“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”—Isaiah 55:7.
I met Joyce last evening, and as I walked about the house my thoughts raced back to 1922….
Tom and Vera married pompously in the summer of 1922. Ralph was quiet at the celebrations. Tom had an argument earlier in the day and told Ralph he would make his life miserable if his wedding celebrations
did not go as planned. Ralph said nothing, just let it be the way it was meant to be.
A year earlier Tom had graduated High School and as the eldest son of a father he admired, expressed his desire to join the shipyard. Ralph would travel by the buggy – a horse drawn carriage, symbol of the elite, in this quaint little town nestled in the backwaters.
Ralph introduced Tom to the Englishman who owned the yard. Seeing Tom’s enthusiasm to earn and learn, Ralph let Tom join the yard. It was here he met Vera, a sprightly young girl from a poor family and resident of a distant village. At her first introduction she learnt Tom was Ralph’s son. her eyes were now only for Tom. The rest never existed. Tom was smitten by her charm and thought he had found his mate. Someone who would make a good wife and mother. Little did he know the tragedy that was to befall.
The marriage was a grand affair at the Town Hall. All who mattered were present. And then the story began to unfold. As wife, she began to poison Tom’s mind, instigating him to have Ralph retire and take the post. He could then drive his own buggy to work.
It was winter when Ralph fell ill and Tom took this opportunity to meet the Englishman and tell him of Ralph’s failing health and inabilities. Tom presented himself as a natural heir to his father’s chair. The Englishman thought it a good idea and conceded. The Notice next morning announced Tom as the new Foreman of the Yard. It was a month later when Ralph got back to work, found his son seated on his chair. Shocked at this demeanor and more shocked to read of his Retirement.
Family is who we look to. We expect them to always be there for us. They are our blood. When a family member doesn’t live up to our expectations we feel abandoned, sad, alone and angry.
He turned back, and walked out of the office and out of their lives. He knew Tom was played upon by Vera. He could never forgive Tom for this act. In the angry exchange of words, Tom told Ralph, “I will not step into your house again, and will see you next at your grave.”
Now with Ralph out of their lives Vera knew she would have Tom eating out of her hands. Vera’s parents and siblings soon arrived. They were now permanent at this abode. They could never have imagined their Vera would lead them from their single room to this Palatial house.
Tom’s earnings were all squashed in buying expensive gifts for Vera and her siblings. Then tragedy struck. Tom took ill and had difficulty in swallowing. The Doctors attending on him were helpless, as medical science was still in its infancy. Tom lay on bed with a steady gaze at the door and a heavy breath. All had given up on Tom’s survival. But death did not. Seeing his pain, the village elders gathered at Ralph’s home, and asked him to forgive Tom for whatever he had said or done. Ralph agreed to visit Tom.
Next morning as Ralph walked into the room Tom’s eyes went moist on seeing his father. Ralph took a spoon of water and placed it on Tom’s lips. Tom let the water flow down his throat and breathed his last.
The funeral was held later that afternoon. Vera ensured none of Tom’s relatives stayed back. Slowly her brother took charge of her life. The house was sold to an Anglican based in Borneo, and all her belongings shipped to the same village where she had first come from. Her old room was no longer there, and in its place stood a palatial home… ‘Veronicas’