It was a typical summer’s day, as if anything was “typical.” Since the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, Sally’s mother, Altie Blaine, usually suffered silently, trying to be stoic in her approach to life.  Two of her sons had served in WWII. One had driven to the house in Bible Grove from Kansas City, and the other lived nearby, so it was easier to drive up to see her. She and Sally’s father William had sold the farm and moved into a tiny clapboard house in the little village of Bible Grove. Then, William had died suddenly, probably of a heart attack. Altie’s youngest charge found him lying inside the shed. There was no ambulance, so Altie called on neighbors and friends to help get William in somebody’s truck and head for the nearest hospital. But Altie already knew that he was gone. She could tell, holding his head in her lap, that there was no movement of him, no rhythmic breathing, nothing to expect hope in this situation. She and her youngest child would be alone in the house. Altie had lost one son in WWI, when he contracted a fever at boot camp. Now, word was the Americans and Filipino soldiers might come to this camp to search everything. Altie tired not to think about her daughter, squalling around in a filthy POW camp…sometimes just preparing a meal for each of them……brought peace and calm. By then the Blaines had soldiered on, literally, and gone about their business, perhaps sending up a prayer or two for Sally’s safety, simultaneously with dark thoughts that things would never change, that the world would be at war for a long time.

The mail came, this day in late summer, so Altie wiped her hands and went to greet the carrier at the front door. The look he had on his face was won of loss and deep sorrow He handed Sally the letter; he knew it was bad news but he was still hopeful about a prison swam or something to rescue both men and women.

With shaking hands, Altie opened the letter with great care, but she dreaded reading it. Suddenly, a neighbor stood beside her. “Do you want me to read it, Altie?” the woman said.

Altie shook her head up and down.

The neighbor read the contents, which turned out to be a telegram. It read, “Mrs. Blaine, your daughter Ethel “Sally” Blaine is confirmed to be alive and incarcerated at Santo Thomas University. You may write her there. Your most current address has also been obtained by the Japanese.”

Altie could not hold back her tears. The neighbor surrounded her in a big hug, which surprised Altie. But she hugged her back. Altie cried on the neighbor’s shoulder while the woman continued to fill that void a bit when she prayed for Altie and for Sally.


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