Sunday, July 2, 1944

As is usual on Sunday afternoons, I usually stay at Hank and Martha’s for tea and snacks or sometimes stay longer for early supper. I call it my adult conversation day as compared to my daily barn yard talk with the animals at the farm. Hank and I usually exchange ideas, talk about the weather and take a relaxing time reading the newspaper. When I stay for supper, I would mostly end up playing cards with the boys. I can’t help wonder how much the boys had grown this summer. Hank Jr and Chester do remind me a lot of Daniel and I, except that they are less troublesome than we were at that age. I think Martha had learned not to repeat history by regulating her boys. It’s not that we were totally ill-behaved lads but we did have the run of the farm. Our age gap was not a hindrance to our fun, we somehow just complemented each other with it. I think the freedom we had was what had made Daniel the outgoing type and I turned to my usual reserve as the protective older brother to him. We have plenty of good memories between us and because of this, we were the tightest of brothers till the end. I hope that Martha’s boys will have the same devotion to each other as well.

Today, I sat with Martha and Hank around the table having tea. Tea is somewhat of a tradition being that Mama and Pa used to do this many a Sunday afternoons at home, we somehow found a need to keep this going after they passed on. Over tea, we would have Mrs. Pratt’s cake of the week. I still wonder why she bakes me such a huge one practically every week. I’d share it with Martha and still have plenty left to take home.

My niece Ruth, who is the oldest of the brood and growing up very much like Martha these days, have started to join in our conversations as well. Being the firstborn child and first niece of the family, she’s quite attached to me and I to her. Wasn’t it just yesterday that she’d sit on my lap and carefully color her book I got for her from the general store while I have tea with Martha and Hank? Well now she’s sitting beside me trying to be part of our conversation. Excitedly she asked me:

“Uncle Ray, can I be a bridesmaid at your wedding?” I was quite stunned by her question.

“Uh- a bridesmaid?” I must have sounded like a deaf person even when she had asked that 10 decibels higher than normal.

“Ruth, you can’t invite yourself to be a bridesmaid, don’t be rude baby” Martha interrupted Ruth’s statement.

I looked at Martha. I guess my eyebrows shooting up made her realize I needed an explanation.

“Ruthie here had overheard us talk about the wedding the other day and so now she is just absolutely thrilled about your getting married soon.” Martha clarified. “Believe me, you won’t hear the last of this, she can’t stop asking about who your bride is going to be, what she’s like, where she’s from, -“

“Yeah Uncle Ray, who is she? Did I ever meet her before? How old is she? –“

All her other questions were a blur, I didn’t quite expect that she would find out so soon or that how many people might also know about my arranged marriage before it actually happened. How am I to answer questions like these? I was suddenly in quite a panic, I stood up and went to the stove to fetch some more hot water.

Martha had shushed Ruth and asked her to go check on her brothers. She left the room quite disappointed, I somehow felt bad seeing that look on her. I guess I’ve always had a special spot for her in my heart.

“I am sorry Ray, I know you didn’t expect that, I was surprised myself. I thought it was best to let them know after the fact but it was an accident she found out. I’ve talked to her about this being a secret for now. You don’t have to worry about it going outside of the family – unless if you don’t mind…?” Martha was sincerely apologetic.

“I was caught unaware, yes. I guess I didn’t really think about this until now. I myself do not mind it but I tend to think that we should be careful for the sake of Olivia, who might not like the idea that the town knows she’s been arranged to marry me.” Martha and Hank nodded in agreement.

There was a long silence, we all were contemplating on any unfortunate consequences. Hank broke it by volunteering to assist me in any way he could around the house. He’s coming over to help me start the bathroom repair. It’s great to have some help for I need it for the weeks to come.


Friday, June 30, 1944

It’s the last day of the month. Time flew, I barely have two weeks left. I haven’t been able to write since I started my preparation for the coming of Olivia. The days and nights have been long, I now wonder if I’ll be able to finish them all before her arrival. I am only able to work on the house after my day at the farm and I look forward to this weekend when I can devote more time to this.

I came from town to buy the materials for the bathroom renovation. The last two days I’ve spent moving my parents’ personal things to the basement trying to clear the house down to the basic necessities. I did not realize how much work this was going to be for I had filled up a few boxes already and these were just from my parents’ bedroom. Add this to the time spent down memory lane when I discovered that my Ma was indeed the subtle collector. She had things hidden in many a nook and cranny. I felt like I was ten years old again, digging up treasures and making up a story behind an object. I wonder if she did that on purpose. It’s a shame that it took me this long to find these, once her special possessions, because I’ve been quite diligent dwelling in my own grief these past few years.

Once I clear their things away, Olivia will be able to put her own personal touch to the house. I just hope that she will respect the fact that it was once my parents’ home. Hopefully in time, I’ll be able to share these with her.

I found my father’s watch the other evening and I had unconsciously wound it. The ticking somehow gave me comfort. I so miss Pa. There are certain things that I can’t put in a box for now.

There are times when I can’t wait for the day that Olivia and I will meet so I can quell the anxiety that plague me everyday but there are also moments when I feel I’ll be leaving this part of my life, my parents and Daniel, their memory prematurely reduced to boxes stored in our basement. Most of the time I fear what lies ahead for me. How will life with her be for years to come? What am I putting myself into? Olivia grew up in a different environment than I did. She studied extensively and had a lot of schooling, I wonder how I am going to balance this difference in lifestyles. The farm may not meet her expectations but I hope she will approve of its humble existence. For now I should not expect so much from her. I doubt my parents would have predicted the way I would be married and I wonder what their opinion would have been were they still living.


Tuesday, June 27, 1944

Even before I had expressed my consent to Reverend Case and during the week that I was contemplating the proposal, my mind had been making a mental list of things I needed to do in preparation for Olivia’s arrival. It seems that subconsciously I had already known in my heart that I will accept such an arrangement even before my mind had made rational thoughts and laid out an explanation of what I am about to embark on.

Yesterday when I came back from Martha’s I had sat down and started to put down the things I had thought that needed attention in the few weeks to come. First off my list is to install hot and cold water inside the house. I’ve never minded this type of amenity when I lived on my own but thinking how Olivia might take the lack of what may be a city-bred necessity may also not bode well for a pleasant start to our married life. I’d have to make another trip to town to get the materials for this project. I went upstairs to the bathroom and surveyed the walls and planned for the improvement. I am glad that when Hank had installed theirs a few years back, I had learned what needs to be done to accomplish this task. It is also a big help that we have indoor plumbing to begin with and I figured this will probably take me a week to do considering the amount of work I have in the farm as well.

I went from room to room to inspect what needs to be done in each one. I have not made any changes to the house. This house pretty much is still my parents’ house, everything and anything in it are still where they have left them. I’ve not bothered to move or store anything of theirs nor Daniel’s, the presence of such material things belonging to them gives me an inner assurance that they are here with me even if they’ve gone on to the next life. It also gives me some kind of normalcy amidst their absence and it’s a constant reminder of their existence and love for the farm and family.

Downstairs, I really do not need to do much. I doubt that I can put fresh paint on the walls. I am sure my laundry list will not allow me to have the time to do that. I’ll probably just be able to give it a good wipe down to make them less worn looking. Indeed now that I actually looked, I’ve noticed that I’ve neglected the state of the house for years.

My work at the farm is quite tedious and coming home to an empty house does not encourage me to be bothered with cleaning on a regular basis. Besides, how much mess can one person do to a house anyway? Well now, I realized that I have turned a blind eye to domesticity all this time, now that I’ve appraised the condition did I realize how badly the house needed some care. It’s good that I am getting married for the house really needs a woman’s touch to it.

I went out to the front porch and saw the sad state of what used to be my mother’s flower bed. It’s overgrown with weeds, grass and dried plants and the soil is in need of watering. I shook my head and thought –“So you call yourself a farmer, Ray?”

The list is still growing. I am glad I have workers to help me at the farm. I am indeed blessed with an able foreman this year that I rarely have to supervise or watch their progress. I have learned to respect the Japanese group of men and women who come to the farm to help. They are not only hard working people but also possess a very strong work ethic inspite of their condition caused by the war.

Tonight I can’t help but create a mental picture of how Olivia would look like and how she would belong in this house. I’ve pictured her homely but smiling and good at cooking and keeping the house. I hope being a Reverend’s daughter would also indicate that she have a strong faith in the success of our marriage. I am quite afraid of what’s ahead for us but at the same time I can’t help but feel some anticipation in my heart.


Monday, June 26, 1944

I’ve never woken up feeling so sure about a decision. In bed last night, I had thought about Olivia – quite a lot. The problem was that all this time I’ve been thinking about how I felt about this arrangement but never did it occur to me that I am not the only one involved in this situation. There is another person who also had feelings and opinions of her own. I do not know her now or her exact feelings about this but thinking from her perspective may have been the sign I’ve been praying for all week long. I am no knight in shining armor or a champion who saves her from all her troubles but I do feel this was given to me because I can do something about it.

I am never the person who puts everything to chance. My way of life requires that I plan for the future and prepare for any curveball that may come my way, of course not without plenty of prayers as well. However, these past few years, we’ve been plagued by death in the family. It’s something you cannot predict nor plan for. It’s devastating and confining that at times you feel the light will never come back to your world. I think it’s time to breathe some life back to it. The baby needs a family when it enters this world, I believe it should be given a chance for a promising beginning and a happy future.

As for Olivia, it’s difficult not to paint a picture of how she will be as my wife but I cannot help wonder at times. I try not to expect too much. I attempt not to dwell with the fact that she was slighted by the fellow who put her in her current situation. I may never know the reason but I hope to God that we’ll both strive to make it work between us. I am in this for the long haul for I know now it is God’s will. Just the reality that we somehow were arranged to cross paths notwithstanding our distances and our way of lives are already short of a miracle on its own. It is also encouraging to note that even at this time before we even meet, we already have something in common in that we both lost someone very dear to our hearts. That alone is the sign that is worth making this positive decision.


After working in the fields today I drove to town and met with Reverend Case after supper. I wanted to save him the trip to my farm tomorrow to accept his proposal. This way, he wouldn’t feel like he had pressured me into agreeing to a favor but that I have come to it on my own accord. He was very pleased and so was Mrs. Case. She couldn’t stop smiling. They offered that I stay for supper but I declined. I am glad that everything is moving forward now. I stopped by Martha’s on my way home to tell them the news. Olivia is coming in three weeks’ time, I have so much to do to prepare for her arrival.


Sunday, June 25, 1944

I went to Martha’s and we all went to attend service. Mrs. Pratt gave me all her usual attentiveness at the potluck. She handed me a lemon cake made from the basket of lemons I gave her the other week.

I also met Dennis, an old time friend from elementary school. He runs the local pharmacy in Wilson. When we were in school, he always excelled in all our subjects, he could have been a doctor if their finances only allowed him to pursue it. I’ve always thought him an academic and that he’ll never settle down till he was old and gray. He came back from active duty a few months after Daniel died in Pearl Harbor and met a girl in California when he made a lay over there on his way back to Denver. The girl, now his wife, came here last fall and they are now expecting a baby. They look so happy together that I felt a pang of regret for not securing a life like theirs at my age.

I had an excellent time. Sundays are usually the only day of the week that I get to mingle with my friends and neighbors. I’ve lived here all my life and these people are now like family to me. The war had brought the residents closer and we have shared our hopes and fears. It is comforting to know that even if the farm is situated at the far end of town, I’ve never felt isolated here. However, I now feel that the farm is too big for one person and I do need someone to help me run it.

Until I spoke to Reverend yesterday, she has occupied my mind more so now that I have her name - Olivia. The name itself holds me in fascination. How does she look like? Why didn’t she get married? Was she not worth marrying? Will she be a willing party to this marriage? Will we be compatible and learn to know each other willingly? I have so many questions I wish I can have answers before I come to my own decision. It’s not that the Reverend gave so little information, in fact, I probably know about her and her family more than what Olivia would be willing to divulge in my presence. I realize that I alone will be able to provide the answers to these questions, not even the Reverend can provide me the assurance that I want.

I think I know what my answer will be but I’ll give it one more day. I’ve been praying hard for this and I’ve been writing in a flurry this past week. Writing my thoughts down does help me sort my thoughts out. My mind’s been cluttered but yet I wonder how Olivia is feeling at this very moment. Is she as unsure and scared as I am about this?


Saturday, June 24, 1944

I think my mind had been so bothered lately that last night I had such a vivid dream. It was so clear and bizarre that I am writing this before I forget and before I make my morning coffee.

In my dream Martha was with child once again. I am laughing as I write this for she’s always said that three was her number, just like we were. That is why I know it will be almost an impossibility that she will be in the family way again. Yet, in my dream it was not anything close to strange but it felt so normal there. We were at the Sunday potluck when her water broke. I immediately sprang into action as though I’ve delivered babies all my life. I got Mrs. Pratt to boil some water and I had ripped all the cloth covers from the tables for Martha to lay down. I instructed Hank through the process while I soothed and assured Martha that all will be all right. The baby was born and then the scene had changed. Suddenly, the Reverend was handing the baby to me. We were all in church. Martha and Hank were there. Martha didn’t look like she just gave birth. They stood like they were godparents to the child I was carrying in my arms. It felt like that, without anyone telling me, I knew the child was abandoned by her parents. They all gave me consoling smiles. The child now depended on me, it was all up to me to take care of her and give her a future. I felt complete and I felt she belonged to me all my life. I cannot describe the exact feeling but I knew then when I saw her that she was meant for me, that I waited for her and this was how it was supposed to be. I fell in love with her, she gave me contentment and the happiness I’ve never had for such a long time. I woke up light-hearted and since had caused an indelible smile on my lips.

I did my morning chores at the barn and had cooked quite a storm till noon. There will be enough food for lunch and dinner for the rest of the coming week. In the afternoon I found myself standing at the door of the Reverend’s house. I only meant to bring some eggs and milk for them, which I often do, but I must have carried a look on my face then that he smiled and invited me in.

Mrs. Case left us to talk in the parlor. He inquired about the farm and I started to tell him that I didn’t get much from what he said on his last visit. I finally learned that the girl’s name is Olivia Dunne. She is the daughter of his close friend from Denver. Her mother had just recently died and now she found herself inappropriately pregnant. They come from a modest family and her father is a respectable figure in their parish community.

I asked him why he chose me although in the back of my mind I had assumed it is because there aren’t many of us unmarried men here.

“Son, you both have lost someone very dear to you. I thought maybe this was a sign that you two were supposed to cross paths. Thomas could have married his daughter to anyone over there but he called on me and somehow I only thought of you.”

I was fortunate that he did not rush an answer from me then. It is one thing about the Reverend, he does not put pressure on anyone, he lets things fall into place. He even encouraged that I should think and pray about it and that he will understand if I eventually turn him down. Of course I am aware that even if he can wait, the girl’s condition and father cannot. I have determined that I’ll give Reverend an answer by Tuesday, a full week after he came to me. I want to put all this behind me. I think it’s the rightful thing to do. I just pray that I would somehow get some sign and that whatever decision I end up with then will be the right one.


Friday June 23, 1944

I had expected that the end of the week will be such a busy day. I just had the camp workers this week and since yesterday we’ve all worked double time to harvest the beets before the weekend. Next year, with the extra money I’ve saved from the last two years will need to be invested in purchasing a machine that will help the farm harvest beets faster and use less manual labor in the process. If the workers are still able to help next year, I will be able to use them to plant more crops in other parts of the farm. At present, the beets are the toughest produce to harvest but will bring in the best price. I’ll just have to really account for every expense so that even if I do make a big purchase next spring, I will still have some money left in the bank.

I’ve helped in this farm since I can remember and now have been running it solo for three years. It’s been a learning experience the last few years and Hank had been a great mentor for me especially since I have to learn every area of keeping the farm profitable. The operation is so much easier now. It used to be such a daunting task. Although I’ve worked here even before I graduated from high school, running the farm by myself is a different matter than when Pa and Daniel were here. I think now that everything is almost as predictable as the weather, I see myself getting home early and feeling some kind of void in my life.

I know Martha and Hank have been worried about my lack of interest in getting married. It is not only them but some people in our community as well, like Mrs. Pratt and Mrs. Case and of course the Reverend. I know they all care for me. It’s not that this has not crossed my mind. After we had lost Daniel, I have mourned him so much. Between the two of us, he was the one who had the sociable and charismatic personality. If he had lived, he probably would be married and with kids by now. He held so much promise. I now felt all the weight of carrying our legacy and name onwards.

I’ve always admired my parents for the marriage they had and have dreamed of having one just like it. I admit, living and working in this farm makes it almost impossible to find the one person I can share my life with. I do try by going to dances and church potlucks. There aren’t really many of them left since the war started to begin with, they are either committed or already married and of course she can’t be just anyone, she has to be the right one. I still believe that one day I’ll meet her and I will just know it in my heart that she’s the one. I do.


Thursday, June 22, 1944

I have a load of people from the camp who came today to help in the fields. This was the best time to get more supplies from La Junta. The camp people have been a big help especially as the harvest season nears.

The harvest since the war started had been very fruitful and the return the best since. The demand had surpassed my expectations, sometimes more than what the farms can even produce here in a season. Like payment for what was lost, I can’t help but feel that this is the price of losing Daniel to the war. It’s a tough exchange. I still lay awake at night thinking if I had just not agreed to his plan, he would still be here, running the farm. He would have had a future ahead of him, and a better chance to have the best of both worlds.

Then while I was driving to town, I wondered what Daniel would have done with Rev. Case’s proposal. I laughed it off, I think he wouldn’t even have to be in such a situation for he would have been easily married by now.

I came home today feeling the loneliness of the house. It was a bit disturbing that this didn’t bother me at all before, even after all the deaths in the family. I had welcomed the tranquility and the emptiness of it all. It had mirrored and sympathized with what I felt inside. Today the silence was deafening.

All day I kept myself busy and have welcomed all the work that was waiting for me at the farm and had looked forward to my outing into town. I have accomplished so much today at the farm, even seeking out the foreman who worked my fields so we can plan at which part of the fields they’ll have to work on for the next couple of weeks. Keeping busy means less dwelling or thinking about Rev. Case and the girl from Denver – what was her name?

The minute I stepped into the house Martha’s words echoed in my head. I wanted to disprove her claim that I don’t leave the farm even if I knew she meant this not in the literal sense. It troubled me that it took this to make me realize what my life has become. How can I have settled into a solitary life?


Wednesday, June 21, 1944

I woke up today thinking yesterday was a dream. Maybe I had dreamt it all. I value my peace here in the farm but sometimes, living alone has its disadvantages. I decided to drop by Martha’s at noon.

Franklin must have sensed my anxiety and had been following me all morning long. I am glad for the companionship. He is my reliable sounding board since I found myself living alone in my parents’ farm.

Martha didn’t look surprised when I ended up at her kitchen for lunch. I normally come over on Thursdays and today was indeed unusual for me to be at her house. I expected a remark but instead she followed me with her eyes. I thought she was assessing my demeanor today and I gave her a wry smile. I think we’ve both been quiet for sometime. My mind was distracted by a lot of thinking and only when Martha had cleared her throat and handed me my sandwich did I remember that I was not the only person in the house.

“Has Reverend Case been by your way lately?” I heard her start.
“He has, how do you know?”
“I saw him two days ago and he had asked me about how you might react to something he was planning to discuss with you that will affect your future”

So I did not dream it after all.

I guess my silence prompted her to say something. I saw sincere concern in her eyes. Martha has never been the sister who meddles and I thank her for that, however, just this once I am glad that she had said something for I hardly know where to begin. She sat next to me and I can’t help but remember that how she does this reminds me so much of our mother.

“When Rev. Case first mentioned it to me, I cannot make anything of it. I can’t even consider that he would even propose such an arrangement but he is obliged to help his friend in Denver, who I was told was also an old friend of his whose wife just recently passed.” She hesitated and placed a hand on my shoulder. “I know it’s not an easy decision to make and it will be wholly up to you to accept it or not. Do not feel obligated but do weigh the significance and value of what he proposed to you Ray”

“I can’t believe I’d even consider an arranged marriage Martha. Down the line, I know I want to get married, but I’ve been a traditional guy and I want a marriage just like Pa and Ma had. I can’t imagine finding the right person through this manner at all.”

She was silent. There. I spoke what I had in my mind. Somehow my thoughts are becoming more coherent now and I am glad that I came by today.

Something struck me though with what Martha had imparted to me on my way out the door. “Ray, I wonder how you’d find the right person if you hardly even leave the farm, maybe this is a revelation that may turn out to be a blessing in disguise, you never know.”

I never thought to think of it this way – that this could be a blessing in disguise. When I was able to voice out my feelings this afternoon to Martha, I thought I can finally get this behind me but now I find myself contemplating the proposal again. What if? I prayed about this tonight, I hope God will find a way to guide me through this.

Tuesday, June 20, 1944

Today had been a strange day.

Reverend Case came to see me today at the farm. I was in the barn and I heard a sound coming up the driveway. I walked out and saw him getting out of his car. The look and the sight signaled some feelings I have been trying to forget but now it hit me full force and reminded me of the time he came over and delivered to me Daniel’s terrible news. I can hardly remember how I came through that day but Rev. Case’s image was forever imprinted in my brain. Naturally, my heart starting pounding, save my sister and her family, I’ve got no one else to lose these days. Did something happen to Martha? to Hank? the kids? I recited a quick heartfelt prayer that they are fine.

My feet refused to move to greet him, I was rooted to the ground, waiting for the big punch. He came to me with a hint of a smile and it startled me. It gave me some relief for even though he wore a hesitant smile it was still a smile and that it somehow assured me that my initial feelings were not what I had feared. We somehow ended up in my living room and I offered him some co’cola. What happened next I am still trying to put into words here….

He said he had a proposition that he wanted me to consider. He proceeded to tell me about a girl in Denver who needed to get married to save her family’s reputation. This girl, who I hardly know, is being recommended to me by the Reverend to be my wife. I could hardly say a word for I didn’t know how to react to such an offer. I heard him say he understood that I would need time to think this over. I remember nodding but I was trying to overcome the shock that was overwhelming me. Then I heard him say that he’ll be by in a week and we can talk again.

As it is, I am trying to remember what he had told me about the girl after he left. I had worked hard and late today because of the unplanned visit. I am now not only physically tired but also mentally exhausted. I hope sleep will claim me and I will have a better mind tomorrow to think this through more rationally than I am able to tonight.