Never Judge A Book By Its Cover…



excerpt from: the little girl with a bow in her hair



1939: The Second World War was declared in Europe. Anne was now 5 years old and learned that her father would be signing up immediately to go overseas. Like many children at that time, marriage and family life would never be the same. Her father was accepted and would be shipped off to work as a cook on one of the many ships overseas. One of Anne’s most prized possessions was a photo that was taken of her and her father in full uniform just prior to him shipping out. She would keep that photo inside the edged framed ‘calendar’ photo. She would not see her father for the entire 6 years, but would receive letters from him periodically. Josephine would be forced to find a job where she ended up working a 12-hour day 6 days a week in a bakery. She moved back in with her family in order to survive and make ends meet for her and her daughter. The house was crowded as not only were Josephine and Anne living with her parents, but also Josephine’s younger siblings and their spouses with a cousin for Anne to arrive shortly. Josephine took everything in stride, as was her personality, while her daughter worried and cried often, missing her father for the next 6 years. During this time, Anne was raised by her grandmother who only spoke Ukrainian, and taught Anne how to communicate in her language. In May 1945 the war ended in Europe and Jack made his way back home to Montreal Canada. The happy reunion between Jack, Josephine, and Anne would not stay happy for too long. Anne was now 11 and Josephine became pregnant almost immediately. Anne was excited to know that she would have a little brother or sister.

Nine months later Josephine would give birth to a little baby boy, who sadly, was stillborn. One can only imagine how devastating it was for her, but just like Josephine, she grieved alone and quietly. Years later she would discuss this time in her life as if it befell to another person. Josephine spoke how her and her sister ‘Helen’ were pregnant at the same time, but Helen’s pregnancy was not going well. Helen was given bed rest in her final months. Josephine on the other hand was strong and healthy; she tended to Helen and assisted her daily to and from the washroom. On one of the many trips to the washroom, Josephine felt a twinge, but ignored it. This is where everything may have gone wrong. Josephine went into labour quickly, and as soon as the baby was delivered, it exposed the umbilical cord unattached. The Doctor could not say when this unfortunate circumstance may have occurred, but Josephine was certain she knew the exact moment. And that was it; she had detached herself and memories from this overwhelming experience. Anne had dealt separately. Anne would recall the ‘baby’ funeral years later to her daughter. The family wanted Anne to say goodbye by encouraging her to approach the casket and give her brother a kiss on the cheek. Anne was not ready to take that step, but was pushed by family at the time. She recalled that she viewed this beautiful fully formed baby boy with pennies on his eyes. She leaned over hesitantly and kissed his cold cheek. This was a memory that would not go away, and she would only speak about it once.

During this chapter in Anne’s life, she attended primary school where she found a new friend in ‘Mary’. Mary was one year younger than Anne, but that didn’t matter, they were ‘besties’. When Anne was to enter grade 8, she begged her parents to let her stay in school with Mary who was one year behind. Her parents not knowing what to do with Anne, as she could be quite persuasive, allowed her to stay with her best friend Mary in grade 7. Times were tough, Josephine was still working and a year later became pregnant again. In 1948, a healthy baby boy was born when Anne was 14. The marriage between Josephine and Jack was never the same since he returned from the war. Eventually, they would separate and Anne would lose her father again. It was at this time Anne began to display what some people may have called an obsessive-compulsive trait. She would make sure her room was neat and clean it daily.  She never left the house without looking impeccable. Helen once said ‘Anne knew if I had been in her room as she would repeatedly notice something moved an inch. With Anne everything had to be perfect!’

Jack moved out of the house, but stayed in Montreal, where Anne would visit as much as she could by bus. Time marched on and at the age of 14, Anne began to work in a dress factory, there would be no more formal education for the little girl with the bow in her hair. Anne worked hard and saved her money so that she could buy herself new clothes. Her lovely little black velvet dress was her favourite and it showed. She wore it with grace and style. Time marched on and Anne was now a grown woman at 19, who, although she never wore a stitch of makeup, was a classic beauty. She continued to visit her father arriving by bus, and never could have imagined in her worst nightmares what would happen next.

1953: ‘Till I Waltz Again With You’ sung by Teresa Brewer was a hit and one of the artists that Anne would grow to love. Music was always important in her life, it was her way to escape at the end of a long day. Anne had dreams of some day walking down the aisle and enjoying a dance with her father to that song. At 19 she had big dreams and her entire life ahead of her. The phone rang and her world immediately stopped turning. Jack Macfarlane (her daddy) was found dead in his apartment. The cause of death determined; carbon monoxide poisoning. Jack had carefully turned on the gas stove, placed his head inside the oven, and waited. Why? What was the reason? Was there ever a good reason to leave this earth? Did he suffer from mental illness? Did the war change him so much that he could not cope? Could he not handle the marriage breakup? Did he not think of his daughter and son? Or did he do it, because of his daughter and son? Questions that only one person can answer, and he was gone. Anne lost her father once again, but this time, for eternity. Families have always had secrets, and this was one the family wanted to keep quiet and to themselves. At that moment and into the future, his death would be explained as a ‘heart attack’. Anne would keep that secret deeply routed inside, and live the lie for years to come, as she quietly cried herself to sleep every night and wondered ‘why’?


© 2014 Paula Bilz. All Rights Reserved.


2 thoughts on “Never Judge A Book By Its Cover…

  1. Simply brilliant Paula.
    Please keep me in mind as one of your first customers, once you have finished this wonderful story.

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