Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A World of Hurt

Never in my life have I felt so sad and lonely. Even when I watched Bob's train pull away last January (which seems like years ago now), I knew I still had my parents nearby in Portland.

It's true my mother and I fought. She thought a "lady" doesn't work in a factory no matter how dire the world's circumstances. And she made only the barest effort to mask her disappointment in my marrying Bob, who is "only" an architect, not someone "important" like a doctor.

Well, an architect would have done no worse for her than the doctor did. Tuberculosis is of course a terrible scourge here in the Northwest, with our cold, damp climate. I've seen the sanitariums scattered around Seattle and Portland since I was little. People seem mostly to go in rather than come out, but there's little else to do for the "white plague."

By the time Mother was diagnosed, the doctor said her lungs were full of holes, and there would have been no point in sending her to a sanitarium. He told my dad that surgery to cut the diseased tissue out of the patient's lungs sometimes works, but Mother's condition proved too advanced even for that measure.

So now another person's gone. At least Bob has some prospect of returning, though I try not to dwell in the perils he's facing. I was so distraught when Mother died, and so worried about Dad, that I considered quitting my job at Boeing. What difference did it really make whether I, among the millions of women and men with war jobs, spent my days riveting aluminum? I could be more useful at home in Portland.

But in the ensuing weeks I've thought things through more carefully. As miserable as I am, if I want to keep my family from shrinking further the best choice is to stay the course. I can't lose Bob, and the only way I know to prevent that from happening is to keep building Flying Fortresses faster than the Japanese can shoot them down.

I try to avoid thinking too often that I'll be lucky to have more success than Mother's doctor did.