The GI Bride

The GI Bride by Iris Jones Simantel Read Free Book Online

Book: The GI Bride by Iris Jones Simantel Read Free Book Online
Authors: Iris Jones Simantel
Sunday dinners back home, when Mum dished up the food in the kitchen to make sure each
person got the appropriate quantity, according to their place in the family, and we
shared one glass.
    I was soon experiencing problems after
I’d eaten some of the rich food, especially the heavy German dishes prepared by my
mother-in-law. I had to refuse some, asking if I might just have some toast, and she
would be offended, often bursting into tears.
    ‘No one’s ever insulted the food
I prepared for them,’ she would choke out between sobs. I felt awful about it, but
what could I do? I didn’t mean to hurt her feelings and certainly couldn’t
control my physical reactions. ‘Please, Bob,’ I said, ‘could you
explain to her about the simple diet I’ve always been used to? I can’t just
change overnight. Please try to make her understand.’
    ‘I’ll try,’ he said,
‘but my mother’s a stubborn German and I doubt she’ll be willing or
able to change either.’
    Poor Bob. I remember how frustrated he
became with both of us. He and I had little private time together and even our
lovemaking was strained: we were alwaysconcerned that his parents
might hear and know what we were doing; I mean, did we really think they didn’t
know? Occasionally we ended up laughing at our fumbling efforts to be quiet under the
    ‘Is everything all right in
there?’ we’d hear from next door. It wasn’t easy to sleep in the
bedroom adjoining theirs, knowing how thin the walls were. It had been different when we
were with Mum and Dad: we joked about it through the wall and had some good laughs. I
was beginning to think that those people never laughed. They seemed devoid of any sense
of humour.
    ‘Do you think they’ve ever done
it?’ I asked Bob. I tried to imagine it and ended up giggling.
    ‘Nah, I musta been adopted,’ he
said. ‘There’s no way I coulda come out of those two.’ I was glad he
was different from the rest of his family.
    Bob had told me his sister had learning
difficulties and had attended a special school. He also claimed that his mother had been
instrumental in Roberta and Mike getting together. Apparently Mrs Irvine had worked with
Mike and had arranged the whole thing, even their marriage. I didn’t intend to
allow our lives to be dictated, as theirs obviously had been.
    It soon became apparent that our living with
Bob’s parents wasn’t going to work. I was terribly homesick, which no one
seemed to understand or have the slightest sympathy for, and I began to feel quite ill.
I was constantly hurting my mother-in-law’s feelings by not eating the food
she’d prepared or staying in my room to write letters or read, sometimes just to
cry. The situation worsened when, just a few weeks after our arrival, I received word
that mygranddad had died. I was devastated and inconsolable for days.
My poor husband was at a loss to know what to do. There was no one to share my grief
with so I buried my head under the bed covers and wept.
    At about that time, and perhaps to take my
mind off my grandfather’s death, Bob announced that he was taking me away for a
few days. He had realized that I needed a break from all the stress and we really did
need some time alone together.
    He didn’t tell me where we were going.
It was a surprise, he told me, and it certainly was.
    ‘I need to give my car a good
workout,’ he said. ‘Dad did drive it occasionally while I was away, just to
keep it in order, but it needs a real road-trip to get it in good shape.’
I’d been thrilled to learn that Bob had a car and felt as though I had taken a
giant step up in the world. I don’t remember what make it was, but it was huge
compared to British cars.
    We drove to the neighbouring state of
Wisconsin. First, we stopped to see some relatives who were dairy farmers. There, I
helped gather eggs and learned how to size them and place them in cartons. Although
Bob’s aunt Freda was his mother’s sister, the two women were

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