Continued from A sense of normalcy returns
Meanwhile, worry gnawed at Herman’s health. Not one to share his concerns or to complain, he grew gaunt. Joan’s liveliness brightened an otherwise dour atmosphere. As the decade closed, Yry was still putting together care packages for the German relatives, but less frequently. The packages now coincided with birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays.
Yry and Joan spent hours imagining themselves into exotic scenes in life-like dioramas in the Museum of Natural History. Or they went to the Zoological Park where Joan giggled as the elephants suctioned peanuts from her open palm. They spent hours together in Central Park; Joan patiently chummed ducks, geese, and squirrels with peanuts and breadcrumbs while Yry fiddled with her Leica, perhaps imagining yet another career possibility. The two of them formalized their outings by creating a botany notebook where pressed flowers and photos of plants illustrated their shared research projects. In my mother’s papers after her death, I found countless references to nature.
I have found great satisfaction in studying nature, as I have great longing for contact with the earth. I think we would all be saner if we would know nature better and understand more fully our place as one small particle in a great complicated and wonderful universe.
During the summers Yry and Joan escaped to New Hampshire or upstate New York where they could swim, pick berries, and ride horses. Occasionally Herman and Norah joined them, but Norah’s severe arthritis and bouts of depression made travel difficult.
Joan dove into the world of language and books. Precocious and well mentored by her mother and grandparents, she was reading by four and by age five she meticulously printed letters to the delighted relatives in Europe.
With her 40’s looming, Yry ignored impertinent questions about her marital status. But school girl notions of love lurked in her heart. Mother never shared stories of her courtship with my father. Given my mother’s melodramatic ways, I mistrusted anything she said about him. Certain facts can be corroborated by my birth certificate, which I didn’t see until days before my own marriage. Others can be inferred from letters and from the numerous short stories that Yry penned, and which corresponded quite miraculously to my birth.
This one was dated May1951.
As I read back thru these pages, I see my faults, I see my groping, clumsy attempts to attain happiness, the rainbows I’ve chased and the ignorance of human nature which led me astray more than once. I see also the ever pervading sense of loneliness, the striving for being loved which runs thru all my sentiments, (a thing I remember from earliest childhood) After being burned and seared and disappointed, I approach the middle years of my life and find that in my heart which I thought had gone dead and barren, blooms a new love. This knowledge like a stroke of lightening, making me tremble with dizziness. At first I was afraid and skeptical. Would love play me false again? Now I am hopeful and happy and very, very humble and grateful that yet another chance has come my way. And I pray, “Oh God, make it right this time. Let him love me. Let me be right for him and he for me. Guide me in the right path to deserve his love and bring good things and happiness into his life.”
The entry goes on to talk of all that her love has brought her: friendship, companionship, and FAITH! Oh, and now she discovers that Judaism holds the tenets of all she has held true.