The Accident
The girls will be away for the holiday, so Lina’s staying with me the whole week. Then we’ll share Christmas dinner with her family. I’m glad she doesn’t mind that I’m younger; she even clowns around with me like a kid herself We still must see what comes of the holiday, though, with Roman’s discomfort. Aunt Mary has him sleeping upstairs now so he won’t have to face people traipsing in and out. I feel bad for him and hope he lives through Christmas. > Lina just met Felix, and he says he’ll be around for Christmas, so she informs him we’ll go to her sister’s home for dinner. “I won’t impose then.” “You won’t be,” she assures him, “I’m sure the family would be glad to have you. He still insists he won’t tag along unless he’s personally invited by Aunt Mary. Aunt Mary told Lina she expects me and my boyfriend to come to their holiday dinner. Since Lina likes Felix, I hope he'll grow interested

in her and let me alone. > It’s Christmas, and we’ve brought fruits and goodies to add to the Aspectos’ gracious table. “Roman is worse,” says Aunt Mary, “but he’d be glad to see you.” When I go upstairs to find him quite ill, he manages to smile and whisper, “Hi.” He doesn’t say much so I promise to check on him later. If there’s anything you’d like, we’ll bring it to you.” He thanks me, and before I even reach the stairway, he falls asleep. Back in the kitchen, as usual we feed the men first. Then after everyone’s eaten, we sit to chat. ‘Felix is so handsome,” they rave, “don’t let him get away.” I’m thinking, how stupid, but we have a good time visiting. Since Lina, Felix, and I don’t work tomorrow, we return to Pasay to visit on my porch. Then when she and I retire at one-thirty a.m., the people downstairs are still partying. Anyway, Christmas is over, and soon it will be New Years. 184 > Lina treated Felix and me to New Year’s Eve dinner here at the Chinese restaurant where she’s a waitress. Since it’s a big night with

live music, she suggests we stay to watch others dance. So we listen to this band play Hawaiian music and special requests. When I spot the family that owns and operates the local theater, their son makes his way to our table. “Haven’t I met you before?” I nod. “You’re the guy who owns the movie house, right?” “No, my father owns it, but I greet customers. That must be where I saw you--good to see you again.” “The same here.” Once he’s gone, I notice Felix’ strange expression. Lina does also and begins telling him about her family and how Roman’s dying of tuberculosis. Her other brother lives in La Union but occasionally visits. “I like my job,” she continues, “tips are good, and our boss doesn’t hold back a percentage. Yes, I’m doing quite well.” Evidently, customers prefer her service and will wait in line if necessary. Their claim is that she puts them at ease for a more enjoyable meal. At this moment, some patrons arrive to ask if she might wait on them tonight. She’s quite thrilled that they commend her service. “This is my day off. But if you return tomorrow, I’ll be here and be glad to serve you.” I feel good to be out with my friends, but Felix is tired of people stopping to say “Hi” to me. Also, since it’s nearly ten o’clock, he wants

us return to the apartment soon. I think what a wonderful evening this has been. Even with city challenges, I know God’s blessings have been tremendous. I’m still not used to this life though. Things are much simpler back in the province. And although farming is hard work, we take time to know others out there. Most people here are more sophisticated and proud and rush to come and go. Of course we each have different abilities, but nothing ought to be so grand to make someone conceited I accept people for who they are and enjoy what I do to survive. Working hard with my hands give me satisfaction. > It’s now January 1947, and Mr. Sadler again says he hopes his wife will arrive soon. One daughter, Isabel, is planning to marry after 185 college, and their eldest girl has a three-year-old child and a six-monthold baby. I speak about Carmen’s plans to marry in July. “She hopes I’ll be there, so I’d like to go if that’s all right with you. I’ll try to find someone to take my place while I’m gone.” “That won’t be necessary,” he returns, “your job will still be here when you return.”

I now have peace of mind to attend the wedding and incentive to save money. It’s going to take a whole month’s pay to get there and back. I'd like to take more than a month to visit people who helped me before I came here and try finding some families who worked for Mom. I also must speak with the landlord about paying him a few months rent. Then if I’m delayed, I’ll still have a place to come back to. Yet I doubt I’ll be away that length of time. > May is nearly over with Carmen’s wedding drawing closer. I haven’t told the Aspectos where I plan to go, so maybe I’ll surprise them and tell them all about it afterwards. God willing, I’ll get to Ilagan and back safely. I’m really excited now. If it turns out to be better in the province, I may go back for good Lina and I haven’t been able to spend much time together, but she says the doctor believes it won’t be long before Roman passes away. So the family watches him closely. I’m sad about the whole thing because he’s always been concerned for my welfare. And now he lays gasping for breath. I can only pray God allows his death to be painless. Now that there’s little over a month to go, Felix considers visiting his parents while I’m gone. That would be good since he‘s gotten to the

point where he visits me every day he's off work. > My landlord and his wife appear genuinely happy that I will attend my friend’s wedding. They even offer to hold my belongings in case the girls move out while I’m gone. I don’t own much other than my cot and bedding. So I thank them graciously and say I’ll pay for several months rent before leaving. It’s pretty hot when I return to the porch to enjoy the breeze. I’m so excited to the point of not only counting the days but also the hours. It’s difficult to picture how big Carmen’s wedding will be. Her uncle will probably give her away in marriage. Yet the more I think of it, I’m 186 happy for her but do hope she loves the guy and isn‘t marrying for convenience. > It’s July third! and my rent’s paid for three months. Now I’m outside trying to flag a jeepney to carry me to the bus station. The one that pulls up is already full with eight other passengers. Therefore, there’s no other choice than to sit next to the driver. We take off fast before I grab the bar in front of me for dear life. I also tighten the handles of my purse and small suitcase about one arm.

Along our way, traffic gets heavier with motorists impatient to arrive at work or other destinations. We arrive at a crossroads and stop. Common practice is for the first vehicle approaching the intersection to flash its headlights and then proceed. Others go in like order. From an adjacent corner, another operator motions for us to go. But as our driver floors it, another bus flashes his lights and rushes the intersection, too. The screech of skidding tires suddenly fills my ears, and someone screams. Then I gasp when an army truck thunders through the junction straight for us. > I feel as if I’m suffocating while lapsing in and out of consciousness. Voices are terribly faint as I sense people poking and prodding me. Then their drone weakens even more and I fade into blackness. How much time has passed I don’t know, but now I’m aware I’m situated in a hospital bed. Then nurses administer a shot while murmuring how it will ease my pain. Warmth envelops me, but my chest still hurts so badly. I know my body is seriously injured because each time I attempt to speak, the pain

is too great to breathe. So I lie in a numb state and wonder exactly what happened. > They have me hooked up to this intravenous line, so I must be doing fine. Yet my head hurts with scary images flashing through my mind. I’m with a group of strangers, and we keep colliding with something. It’s the last I can remember. 187 I now hear I’ve lain in this bed at least a week. I try to speak again, but it’s such an effort to get a word out. Forget it. It hurts too much to breathe. > My nurse, Maria, is the nun taking care of my daily personal needs. It’s the end of July 1947, dear. Nearly four weeks have passed for you here in San Lazaro Hospital.” She pats my hand, but I don’t have it in me to speak. “Would you rather I tell you what was printed in the newspaper about your accident?” I nod to hear details. She says our bus was thrown off the road after being struck by an army truck. The official report states how our vehicle flipped over twice before landing on its side. The driver and most of the passengers were

killed. Only one man was discovered alive after I was found pinned under the bus with my purse and bag still in my arms. “You were pronounced dead on arrival here.” She witnessed my being parked to one side of the Emergency Room as doctors confirmed the others’ deaths. And after working on whom they believed to be the only survivor, they tried to decide what to do with my body. They searched my belongings for identification but found none. Whom could they contact about me? Four hours later, one doctor heading out of the room happened to glimpse some sign of life. Maybe my finger twitched. Whatever it was, he grabbed hold of my wrist. Then he called out to the staff, “I feel her pulse! She’s alive again!” The other attendants hurried over, and sure enough, they confirmed I had life. They were quick to cut away my blood-saturated dress to set to work on me. I was critically injured with a deep gouge in my forehead and a large gash to the back of my head. Bruises covered both legs, and my knees were tom open with one cap especially exposed. Glass shards were removed from my left eye with more fragments from my right knee. They patched what they could with one doctor predicting I’d never walk properly or see out of that eye again. Despite all the blood loss,

thank God, a transfusion was not needed. They also took X-rays revealing fractured bones throughout my body. The worst fractures were along my ribs and back. So they bound me stiff in a body cast to reduce movement. Maria continues talking while she bathes the exposed parts of my body. “Up to this point, we know of no one to contact about your condition.” 188 I don't want to have visitors now anyway. I’m discouraged about life. Since I have no one, I don’t respond to the daily question of whether I have family. I guess I’m just lying here, hoping to either die or get better quickly. It’s terrible to possibly die in a hospital with no one to know of it. Yet I suppose I ought to be grateful. I’m blessed with such fine people caring for me. One nun in particular who visits patients is genuinely kindhearted. She just arrived to sit by my side and ask questions about my family. I don’t have the strength to speak yet, so she prays I’ll soon be on my feet. She also prays for my quick return to my family. Little does she know, I don’t have any to go back to. I’m alone in this world now. But I manage to whisper, “Thank you for praying for me.” She barely touches my hand so as not to add to my

discomfort. “I’ll be seeing you again.” My lips form the words, “Thank you,” before she steps to visit others around me. I’m able to see that our room holds about twelve people. Those patients aren’t as bad off as I am since they’re up and moving about. They even come by to say “Hi” to me now and then. > Maria washes my face each day along with whatever else isn’t hurting. She also changes my dressings. With one leg especially bruised and swollen, she checks for proper drainage on either side of it. At least the infection hasn’t grown worse. So this is how it feels to get run over. Each day, I receive shots of antibiotics. There are also painkiller shots intended to ease each session when the doctor scrapes out flesh from my damaged leg. I do grit my teeth each time they move my other leg with its botched up kneecap. That would also be completely unbearable if they didn’t shoot it full of a painkiller. I’m still having a time of it struggling to breathe. But since I’ve motioned for them to elevate my head some, it helps. Of course, I’m still unable to move, so someone must often reposition me. I want to do all I can to get better, but it’s difficult not to become depressed with my condition. But I’m trying.

I’ve been here a month with no outside visitors. In a way I’m glad because I wouldn‘t be good company. It‘s enough to concentrate on breathing and healing. But I do have doctors, nurses, and other patients coming to speak to me each day. I fervently thank God I’m alive and pray to remember exactly what happened. Even with Maria’s details, it’s hard to recall the facts. 189 > The doctors took another X-ray of my body and are thrilled to report they’ll remove this body cast off me. Since my bones are healing well, they’re eager to begin me on simple exercises as much as I can endure. > Two nurses help me to stand each day but must start my legs moving to lead me down the hail. Lying in the bed so long wasn’t good for my muscles. I lost most of my strength. Thank God I can be walked although my legs still tremble. I just hope the nurses don’t have to help much longer. I’d like to be able to do it alone since the pain can be discouraging, along with the need to depend on others. But I’ve promised myself to cooperate all I can to help speed my recovery. My doctor now has great hopes that I’ll regain my strength and eventually return to work. He’s thrilled to see me walking around with

the bad kneecap since he believed I’d lose the use of that leg. It’s a miracle of God how both legs are mending well. My eye is also not as tender. “Who’s the lucky guy?” teases Maria. Noticing my ring, she assumes I’m engaged. “Just somebody.” I don’t want to give anyone ideas to search for Felix and bring him here. Well, one good thing is that my rent is still paid up for another two months. My place will be secure to return to. Yet I can ‘t imagine what the girls will say after hearing about this. One of the staff has kindly offered to make sure I get home safely. Also, some patients still come back to visit me after their release. They’re overwhelmed with the fact that I was pronounced dead on arrival. I thank God for their concern. The doctors still want to be sure I can do well enough on my own before releasing me. They keep an eye on me since I still have trouble breathing sometimes. “After you leave, keep us posted,” they say, “and don’t forget to return for checkups.” I’m thankful for all these people who display such kindness. I also keep wondering about Carmen. Maybe I can contact Hedy’s parents to

see if she's finally married > Once in a while I feel dizzy while they walk me. I don’t know whether it’s due to the injury or simply because I’m getting back on my 190 feet. So after I mention it to one nurse, she remarks that I’m coming along fine by the looks of my X-rays. She’s probably right. I do walk better than a week ago. “You’ve come a long way,” some staff say. They cheer me on to keep up the good work. I’m sure looking forward to the day I can return home and go to work. But the doctor suggests I take it easy for a while once I’m discharged. Thank God the money I had tucked in my belongings is still all there. I know that anyone could have easily taken it. My little suitcase is still intact, too. Everything is preserved by God just as He preserved my life. The Lord knew I'd need money when I get home. It’s funny how everyone still calls me “Miracle.” They just never bothered finding out my real name after I could speak again. Yet since I told them, they still address me as Miracle. > A couple doctors tell me I can go home in a few days. If at all

possible, I shouldn’t return to work for at least a month. “But my bosses are expecting me back about this time.” “Perhaps you can let them know about your accident and why you must take it easy.” They feel if I absolutely must work, I can’t put in a full day. Then they ask who my parents are. “How much family do you have?” I just begin to cry, so one doctor sits comforting me. “I don’t mean to pry, but do you have anyone at all?” I swallow hard and tell him the story of my life--how I was adopted quite young, and my mother died during the war. Then I came to the city and have no one. I’m alone. He’s very sympathetic since he knows many people in the same situation. “I don’t know how I’ll possibly pay for my hospital bill and your time in caring for me.” “Don’t worry, everything will be taken care of. We just want you to be well again.” I softly thank him and thank God in my heart for what He’s doing for me. What else could it be? The good Lord is providing all the way. The doctor mentions how Maria and Cora, the two nurses who’ve tended to me since I arrived, hope to accompany me home. It’s because

they’ve grown to love me. I’m grateful they’ll take me to the only home I know--a room with three other girls. I hope everyone will recognize me because it seems I’ve been gone so long. The girls knew I was supposed to go to the 191 province for the wedding, so I hope I won’t be carried away with all their questions. I’m not really up to doing a lot of answering yet. > The nurses have escorted me home, and the room appears the same as when I left. My cot’s in the same place, but it’s about ready to need replacing. I thank God to be back, and after the women leave, I think of what to do with my days off. I must figure out how to get over to my bosses’ to explain and get my leg checked at the clinic. Much is on my mind, but God knows what I’m ably to do for now. So I pray I’ll be patient to wait for my body to function properly again. My mood is depressed as I wait for the girls to come home from work. But I have time to reflect on how good God has been to me. I don‘t know why He delivered me from this accident. But He brought me back to life, so I wonder what He has in mind for my future. This is a new experience to remember to take medication. I’ve never even

swallowed an aspirin in my life before the accident. But I’m grateful to have these pain pills now that my leg is throbbing. I’m sure it will be a shock for the girls to find me in bed. I’ve never been one to take a nap in the afternoon. Then they’ll probably start asking questions. So I must prepare myself to give some answers. They ought to be here soon--that is, if they come straight away. For now, I lie thinking deeply of my mom. 1 know she wouldn’t have wanted this to happen to me. I could have gone to join her where she’s at, but I’m still here. So I have much to consider about being alone and how to manage. The lives of many people around us are affected by everything we do. I know the manner my friends have been living has affected me quite bad. At least I’ve come to know good people such as Roman. I’ll go to visit the Aspectos when I’m able. They’ll also be shocked to learn what happened to me. Evening is near now, and I have yet to see any of the girls. Perhaps it’s that lady from the other end of the building I hear out there. I reach into my bag. Maria and Cora are such lovely women. I see they ‘ye tucked apples, bananas, rolls, and sandwich spread in here for me. Thank you, Lord. At least I won’t have to get something from the corner store. I don‘t feel I can make it all the way down there yet.

Maybe next week I’ll return to visit them at the hospital instead of going to the clinic. I’m still impressed with their feelings toward me. 192 Since I was instructed to walk as much as I can endure, I head slowly out to the restroom. Then it’s back to the kitchen for a drink of water. I hope some people get here soon. I just now notice the few things left tucked under my cot weren’t disturbed. Then I sit to rest with a sigh. It’s going to be some surprise for the girls to. find me here in the house. > It's now five-thirty, so I try combing my hair, but my head is sore in places from the cuts. At least my hair is finally growing where they shaved it to stitch some parts. Well, no one can really see the cut on my forehead unless they look for it. Thank God my hair covers it. Not that I’m ashamed, hut it looks funny with the hair sticking out like that. The girls obviously walked home because here they come screaming about their feet hurting. One says she can hardly wait to kick off her shoes. Another is thirsty. It seems another has run to the restroom while the last has come to unlock our door. It’s not long before they’re all arguing about who forgot to lock up this morning. “I locked it,” insists Mary, “but the padlock’s not on the door now.”

They continue about how they shouldn’t forget to lock up since someone might sneak in to take their stuff. Lourdes finally pushes the door open to see someone lying in bed. She can’t make out my face though since I’m facing the wall. My body’s covered with my sheet, so she screams, “There’s somebody in our apartment! Someone’s lying in Florence’ bed!” “You don’t think she’s back, do you?” whispers Cincia. “I don’t know--I can’t see,” says Lourdes, “but somebody’s in the bed.” By this time, I feel silly and say, “Come on in girls.” “Why did you do that!?” they cry, “are you trying to scare us? Why are you in bed? And when did you get back?” I sit up on the edge of my cot, but they can’t see the condition of my leg with my pantaloons under my dress. “I got in midmorning. It’s good to see you--it’s good to be back.” They say, “Yes, it’s good you’re back. How is your friend? How big was the wedding?” I’m not sure how to answer, and I break into tears. There’s nothing much to tell them except that I was dead, came to life in the hospital, and now I’m back. “What’s wrong,” they ask, “didn’t you enjoy your trip?”

193 I keep crying, so Hedy sits right beside me. “What’s the matter, was Felix here? You know, he’s been here often to see if you were back. Did something happen with you two?” I realize I’m obliged to answer their questions. “Hedy, may I speak to you alone?” The girls don’t mind and leave for me to tell her how I never made it out to the province. I tell about the accident and how I was pinned under the jeepney after it flipped over. Then I was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital. Her eyes widen. “Why didn’t you have someone let us know what happened?” “I couldn’t speak and had enough trouble breathing. So I couldn’t respond to the doctors and nurses.” I now show her most of my injuries. “This is all I’m able to say for now.” “All right, you rest, and I’ll tell the girls. Since tomorrow’s Friday, we won’t go out.” The following day, I clean and redress my leg’s wound. My knee‘s still stiff but I thank God it’s not as painful as last week When the girls arrive home after work, their arms are loaded with stuff from the market. They scramble around the kitchen area while

Hedy checks on me. I’m okay,” I say. “All right, Lourdes will cook the rice while I make adobo and pockpit. By the way, I told the guys they have to wait on the porch, and we’re not going out tonight.” I’m impressed. It’s the first time I’ve known her to be bossy around here. The girls have surely gone all out, too. Besides food, they even bought soft drinks as if they’re having a big party. “This is supposed to be your welcome home dinner,” Hedy says and then leaves the room. When the girls check on me, I thank them for being so nice. They’re feeling guilty that I was in the hospital and unable to do for myself all that time. They just assumed I was having a good time visiting my friends in the province. I tell Hedy I ought to take my medication so I’ll be able to stay up with them this evening. So she brings water and instructs me to stay put until they finish cooking. Now I smell adobo cooking. I am glad to be back to familiar sights and smells. 194

> ADOBO Recipe (a coconut milk version) I coconut 2-3 pounds pork and chicken, cut up I cup vinegar 1 cup water 1 head of garlic 1 tablespoon peppercorns Salt to taste 2-3teaspoons cornstarch (soy sauce to taste is optional) Instructions: Crack the coconut open and carve out meat. Place coconut meat in a strainer and squeeze out milk. Combine coconut milk with remaining ingredients. Place mixture in cooking pot or wok. Heat on medium-high until meat is thoroughly cooked and liquid is nearly boiled down. Slowly stir in cornstarch one teaspoon at a time to thicken sauce. Ready to feed 6-8 people. Serving suggestion: pour over steamed white rice. > I wonder if the guys heard what happened to me after one makes his

way into the kitchen. “Somebody’s outside--what shall I tell him?” Hedy comes onto the porch as Felix asks the guys if I’m back yet. “We don’t know. We’ve just been ordered to sit out here until dinner’s ready.” Felix also asks Hedy if there’s any news from me yet. “Yes, you have a seat, and I’ll get right back to you.” She comes right back to let me know Felix is here. “What do you want me to tell him?” I know I must speak with him sooner or later, so I agree to see him. She informs him they’re preparing a big welcome home dinner for me. This is why the girls are all busy in the kitchen. She wants everyone to stay on the porch until it’s time to eat. “You’re included for dinner, too, Felix.” He’s awfully eager to see me and asks if I might visit with him for a few minutes first. So Hedy has returned to ask me about it, and I wish 195 for an easy way to let him know about the accident. I suppose I have to pull myself together, get up, and walk out there. Once I’m on the porch, he almost forgets himself and nearly puts his arm around me. But he realizes he can’t make such an appearance to people. So he draws back and reaches to shake my hand. “Were you

sleeping?” “No,” I say, just taking it easy.” Right away, he asks about my trip. If you don’t mind much, I’ll wait until after dinner to tell you all about it, okay?” “I was just so excited to hear, but I can wait.” “Now, Florence,” Hedy interrupts, “you can stay out here with the guys if you’re up to it. I just don’t want you to get so tired, okay? I want you to be able to sit up to eat.” Felix’ expression turns odd. “Is something wrong, Hedy?” “No, I just want to be sure Florence isn’t tired to sit up with us. After all, this is her big night--welcome home party.” Still, his eyes seem to ask why she would make such a statement. That wouldn’t be like the healthy Florence he’s always known. After we all sit sharing a good meal, I can’t figure out if everyone’s quiet because Felix is present or because they don’t know what to make of all this with me. Hedy keeps asking if I’m all right. ‘I'm okay--I’m fine. Thanks for asking.” Once in a while, the others look to each other. But they haven’t anything to say.

Afterwards, I follow the guys out to the porch, and the girls stay to wash dishes. Hedy finally pokes her head out to ask if anyone wants to play cards. Their boyfriends immediately go back in around the table and leave Felix and me alone. It’s not long before I’m telling him how I reached the province. Our jeepney was hit on the way to the bus station and flipped over twice. So I was pinned underneath with the driver and most passengers instantly killed. “I was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital, but I could hear voices. And I wasn’t able to say anything because I was hurting so badly. I could hear scissors going while they cut my bloody dress off to examine all my injuries.” Felix has turned white and grips the back of the chair he’s straddling. He asks why I didn’t tell anyone I had friends who would have cared to know my whereabouts. 196 I wasn’t able to speak and had to struggle to breathe. It felt like my chest had been crushed. Besides, they gave me lots of medication, which made me sleep much of the time. I also couldn’t move with the body cast they put around me tight. I am grateful though for the nurse who tended to my daily needs. Other than that, I wasn’t totally aware of

everything going on.” He’s obviously troubled to hear all this. “I’m so sorry I couldn’t have been there. “It was probably better you didn’t see me injured. You would have been upset. The nurses did ask who the lucky guy was after noticing my ring. But I just told them it was someone.” After speaking a while, I express appreciation for his concern. “I just thank God I’m back here. So if it’s all right with you, I won’t say any more about this now.” “That’s fine. We can discuss it further some other time.” He then says he made it out to the province. He even told his parents he’d given me a ring in hopes of planning something together. “Have you given any thought to your feelings--have they changed toward me at all?” I’m aware he’s fishing to learn if I love him in any possible way. “Felix, I just don’t think of you as a boyfriend. You’ve been nice like a brother. Although I’ve never had a real brother. But you’ve been kind and considerate, which is why I’m thankful you’re the kind of guy you are. You don’t force yourself on me, and that’s why I like you.” “I told my parents I hope you have a change of heart soon so we can plan our future.” “We can always talk about that later.” At this time, Hedy comes to ask if I’m tired.

“Yes, I’m getting there.” Felix agrees to call it a night since he doesn’t want me to have any kind of setback. “I want you to go to bed and rest. But would you mind if I come again to see you tomorrow?” “I think it will be all right,” I answer and wish him good evening. Finally, the girls tell the guys to go home so they can get ready for bed. I feel the night went well but reach for my medicine now. My leg is throbbing after having sat up so long. So I’m relieved to elevate it. Thank you, God, for the time with my friends tonight. He did answer my prayer for strength and little pain while visiting. I just realize I should let our landlord know I’m back. Maybe tomorrow I can make it down the stairs by myself. Hedy’s writing a letter to her mother. “Florence, is there anything I can let Mom know to tell Carmen’s aunt as to why you weren’t at the wedding?” 197 I tell her to write about the accident, so she does and includes a separate note for Carmen’s aunt. I’m glad she’s taken care of that for me. Maybe I’ll hear from Carmen some other time. Come the next day, the girls are kind to take turns making me

comfortable. They even do my laundry. Each time I turn around, they’re helping me as though I’m still quite sick. For a short time, it seems they turned away from their selfish ways. I don’t know how long their courtesy will last, but I’m appreciative. “Thank you all for your help. Last night was wonderful, too.” They carry on while I wonder if I might reach the compound next week. Maybe my bosses would extend my days off I also must get checked at the hospital. Although I clean my leg each day, It’s too painful to do more than swab it. Anything else is unbearable. As for my finances, I can thank God no one took the money from my purse in the hospital. Otherwise, I’d be left with nothing at all. So the three hundred and fifty pesos. I’d saved for my trip are still in my possession. I finally ease my way down to the landlord’s apartment and tell him what happened to me. I also hand him twenty pesos to cover four months rent. He and his wife are sympathetic, and she gives me a hug. “Ouch!” I whisper. “I’m sorry dear, I didn’t know you were in a lot of pain.” They both understand once I explain that many of my bones were fractured. “You don’t have to pay your rent now. You can get it to us after you’re back to work.”

They’re so gracious that I pay them anyway. Then I get back upstairs as Felix arrives. He’s brought fruit and plenty of other food from a restaurant to share with all the girls. Later on, he and I are on the verandah with him pursuing the subject of marriage again. He knows my feelings but wants to marry me because he thinks I need someone to care for me. After pressing me further, I say I may go through with that after the New Year. ‘Until then, I’ll think further on the subject. This is a serious matter we’re discussing.” I now recall having gazed at my ring in the hospital. It sparked me to remember everyone I know, and I often thought why did I agree to wear this? On the other hand, it might be nice to have someone in my life. To date, I still don’t love Felix, and it’s hard to imagine what marriage entails. So what am I to do with this kind of friendship? I know nothing about loving a man. Love to me was basically the words my mother gave me along with her hug the day she died so before I commit to Felix, I must know more about the involvement between a 198 man and a woman. And I pray to come across someone who might advise me well.

> The doctor at the clinic said my leg is doing great. “Just rinse with this solution each day and change the dressing,” were his instructions. Since I’m stronger, I’m on a bus to the compound. The medicine must have helped me heal although I owe this progress to God and friends who‘ve encouraged me. Mr. Sadler happens to be home when I arrive to explain my situation. “See, I was in the hospital all that time and then at home the past three weeks. The doctors told me to rest a while. That’s why I’m here to talk to you. Maybe in another couple of weeks I can return to my job.” He’s compassionate and wishes he’d known about my terrible accident. “Mrs. Sadler won’t arrive until around the fifth of November, so you take all the time you need to get better. We can send our laundry out until you return. Just don’t feel rushed to get back to work now.” I’m grateful to him since it’s been nearly two months since I’ve worked. “Do you have money?” “Yes, I didn’t have any place to spend what I saved, so I still have enough to get along.” “Are you sure?” He withdraws money from his pocket. “Take this in

case you need to buy medicine.” After it’s pressed into my palm, I find it’s the same amount of money I receive for a month’s wages. I’m astounded. “I’ll work extra hours-extra days for this.” “No,” he insists, “that’s your gift.” I don’t recall receiving many gifts, so I’m thrilled and begin weeping because I don’t exactly know how to express myself. “Don’t cry, Florencia, just remember that a lot of people love you and want to help.” Now I sob. I’m overwhelmed to think, how could it be that a lot of people do love me? My mind flashes back to my natural mother and her rejection for me. It’s difficult to put together, but the love of people and God’s goodness seem to make up for what I never received from her. I still love her and wonder how she is and where she‘s at. I do hope that someday she comes to feel love in her heart for me. But I must think positive thoughts since it’s the only way I can keep going in this 199 world I’ll always try to remember people who've been kind to me. Mr. Julian has just come in, so I also inform him of my situation. He’s quite stunned to hear my story, and tears fill his eyes. I’m so

sorry,” he says, “did anyone know you were in the hospital that length of time?” “No, but I had lots of company--the nurses and doctors who watched over me there.” “Oh, dear,” he adds and tells me his wife and daughter will arrive around the end of November. “Perhaps we will have Hedy come work for us. That is, if she’s still interested.” I nod. I’m sure she looks forward to the opportunity to work for you and your wife.” “Send her over, and we’ll discuss it. Of course, my wife may have more for her to do than the housekeeping.” He also asks about my financial status and reaches into his pocket the same as Mr. Sadler had. Then he gives me the same amount I usually receive on payday. “I know that becoming sick might call for medication and money to get back and forth to see doctors.” I can’t believe all this, so I break into tears again. I just cry and cry. Both men tell me they love me and would like me to return soon but not to rush myself so I can only thank them over and over and praise God for continuing to provide since my birth. 200

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