See Part One Here
See Part Two Here
I can't pinpoint the exact moment it progressed. Progressed to what, you might ask and I can't still answer that. All I know is love is in there somewhere. And intimacy. And compassion. And passion. I remember little snapshots of our conversations. The reading time became shorter and our conversation lengthened into our time together.
“Can I tell you what happened?” he said out of the blue one day, taking off the thick lenses that shrouded his eyes.
I nodded. I sensed in my bones we were going outside of this room to somewhere dark.
He stood and took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeve. And I knew what it was even though I'd never seen one before. The tattoo stood out stark on his arm. I wanted to touch it and then didn't.
“You've heard of the death camps of Auschwitz?”
“No, yes,” I hesitated, “I haven't heard the names of the camps”. I told him we had quite a few Jewish children in my school in Cork, their parents had escaped death camps. We envied the children as they did not have to attend morning or evening prayers, religion classes or mass or retreats or novenas. Some of us had even asked about conversions to Judaism to the derision of the nuns. He laughed at this. A rich laugh of such delight that I joined in.
“Well,” he said slowly, “I was liberated as a young man from that camp.” he rolled down his sleeve and put his jacket back on. “You will understand I can't speak of what I had to do to survive and the loss of ....” and he couldn't finish. He bowed his head.
“You're expecting a child?” he said, again out of nowhere one day. I had kept it hidden. In those days you could be fired if you got pregnant. In those days you had to tell at a job interview if you even intended to have a child. In those days there was no maternity leave or daycare or maternity benefits of any kind.
“Don't worry, “ he added, “even though I'm your boss, I won't tell anyone. Work as long as you want.”
“My wife is an invalid in a wheelchair. I grieve for her, she loved the opera and the ballet and midnight jazz and art gallery openings and now that is all gone. Between my nearly blind status and her crippling disease we don't go out anymore. We enjoy the radio together. You must listen to CBC.”
Every time he used “must” to me I would later make a note in my small notebook. He introduced me to CBC and its delights - “Morningside”, “As it Happens” and classical music programmes and radio theatre of all kinds along with the jazz and folk music shows.