Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCXXXIV. Wedding Bells (2 of 8)

I can still see her standing in the subway station.  Her head was covered with a kerchief.  She looked pale and wore very little make-up.  Her most striking feature was her beautiful red hair and the other physical characteristics that come with it:  freckles and a very fair skin.  She was very short and she was thin.

This is what I looked like at the time.  I was wearing my best clothes: a dark blue suit with a tie and a white shirt.  I wore my black curly hair short and brushed straight back.  My dark brown eyes were hidden behind thick lenses.  My face was square with a rounded dimpled chin, a prominent nose, a strong mouth and a serious countenance.  I was thin and of average height.

We had no trouble finding each other, and soon we engaged in small talk.  Of course, at the beginning there was some nervousness, but by the time we arrived at her home, our initial anxiety had evaporated.

Her parents made a good impression on me; simply put, I liked them from the beginning; and nothing in the years that followed caused me to reconsider that initial favorable opinion.

Her mother, Clara, was a lively and kind woman; goodness was written all over her face.

Her father, Hugo, was short like Norma and appeared rather gruff; nevertheless, he managed to overcome his brusque personality and quickly made me feel at ease.

Our conversation at the onset was general in nature.  However, considering the circumstances, I was asked some key questions.  I was here after all to allow them to get to know me better, and decide whether a serious relationship should develop between their daughter and me.

I no longer remember much of what we discussed, except that I gave them an overview of my life so far with emphasis on my first year in Canada.  I told them of my work (I was at the time working for Candiac Equipment), how much I was making, and of my intention to study towards an Accounting Degree beginning next fall.  They seemed very pleased to hear that.

This was not a one-way street.  In turn I asked many questions, for I needed to make my own decision.

My future in laws had left Austria in 1939; they pointed out that they had made it in the nick of time; any delay would have resulted in Hitler closing the door and condemning them to the bitter fate borne by millions of European Jews.

Their early years in America were hard; both having to go to night school to learn English.  During the day, they both worked in physically demanding jobs.  Hugo worked in a leathercraft factory; Clara worked as a seamstress in a knitting factory.  At a certain point Hugo lost his job; Clara approached her boss regarding the possibility of employing her husband.  He could hire him as an apprentice knitter; but he warned her that the work was physically brutal and required precision and a certain artistic talent.  Hugo took the job and in no time at all rose up to the challenge; because of the demands of his new trade, he was able to earn far more than in his former job.

Norma was born when they were both middle age.  The last thing they expected and wanted was a child.  To add to their woes, Clara was very sick during her pregnancy, and Norma was severely underweight; it was touch and go for her for a while; but she was a fighter even then and by the grace of God she made it.

I need not tell you that she was an only child.

Norma would later tell me that having her at an advanced age handicapped her.  Clara compensated by giving her daughter a lot of love.  Alas, Hugo was totally at sea here; through no fault of his he could not meet even the basic requirements expected from a father.

For the rest of her life, Norma would be affected; and that unfortunate situation was a black cloud hovering over our marriage; a marriage that eventually ended in a legal separation 25 years later.

Back to the present.

Eventually, my visit came to an end and Norma accompanied me to the subway station.  We were both more relaxed now that we had met and knew so much more about each other.  We parted with a promise to continue our correspondence and to meet again in the near future.

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