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Chapter XXIV - Return

It was dark when we reached the point of embarkation. The Queen Elizabeth was late in arriving and we had to meet the ship in mid water. We had to board motor boats to wait for the Queen to arrive. There were not enough seats for everyone, so we were packed in like sardines. I had a seat in the front, close to the rail projecting out, and I felt as though I were in the water. The night was chilly and damp but I was lucky to have a seat. My husband had to stand up three hours for Her Majesty to arrive. It was dark and we could see the lights on the shore. Finally, sailing down the channel, came the Queen bathed in streams of colorful lights. It was a beautiful sight, hard to forget. I was chilled to the bone but, at last, the bridge was lowered, the two vessels were connected, and the passengers, with a feeling of relief, walked into the majestic ship. The ship was very warm and the table was loaded with good food. The comfort we found cancelled the discomfort we had suffered.

Returning home took a day longer than going and the passage was uneventful except for one day.

We came back by the northern route. One night, while we sat at dinner, I noticed the crew barricading the portholes. I asked one of the crew members why he was doing that and he said there were rough seas ahead. My husband and I retired at the usual time. I awakened during the night because there was a loud banging on the outside wall of the ship. My husband also woke up. I said, "What's the noise?"

He answered, "High waters against the wall of the ship." I was in the upper berth and my husband was in the lower berth.

I said to him, "I have to hold on to the rails protecting the berth because I am rolling from side to side."

My husband replied, "Me, too!"

My ears were tuned to the loud noise of the ship when my husband said, "I am going to the men's room." When he came back, he said, "It's horrible. There are a lot of sick people and I am seasick too. I have already vomited."

After a couple of hours I decided to get up and get ready for breakfast. I dressed, washed and asked my husband if he wanted to come, too, but he said, "No, I am too sick to eat."

I left the cabin and in the corridor I had to hold on to the walls because of the ship's rocking. I started to climb up the stairs but felt like a rubber ball going up and down. I managed to reach the dining room and sat at a table. There was only one other person in the dining room sitting at a table. I joined the woman because I wanted some company. The waiter approached, took the order and served the food. As I looked at the food I became nauseated and left the room without touching the food. Somehow, I managed to reach our cabin. My husband said the steward had suggested he eat an apple and had given him one. It worked, so he suggested for me to do the same. I was too sick to take his advice and lay on my bunk for the balance of the day.

The next morning the sun was shining brightly and the sea was calm. The barricades were removed from the windows and people were moving around. Late in the afternoon we decided to go on the upper deck. The door was still closed but one could go out. There were ropes to hold onto. A gust of wind yanked my hand loose from the rope and swung me around. That was enough for me, so I stayed inside the rest of the day.

By now I was eager to get home. The morning of the day we were to arrive I woke up early, dressed and packed our suitcases.

Then we went to breakfast and to look for land. We were to arrive at noon.

At 10:00 a.m. I thought, "A couple more hours and we'll be home!"

I looked at the clock again and, to my dismay, the clock read 9:00 a.m. I had not thought about the lost hour. In order to adjust to our time the clock had been turned back one hour. I resented that last hour. I felt cheated.

Finally the coast began to appear. My spirits rose and I felt elated. What a sweet feeling! Here was the land that had become my land, the land where I had planted roots. I ached to see my home and my family and to pick up life where I left it.

Finally we disembarked and had to go through customs to be released. After the inspection of our suitcases the first person I saw was my granddaughter Carol. She was with her father, my son Tony, who had come to meet us and help with our luggage.

Our daughter Irma and her husband, Danny, had also come to meet us. I rode in my son-in-law's car while my husband rode with Tony.

It was almost dusk when we left New York and a drizzling rain was falling. It was good to be home. The small houses with the green lawns, and the trees dripping with rain seemed to make it more intimate as we approached our home. We had left big cities with large buildings, a sharp contrast to these small suburban homes nestling privately on their lots, some with white picket fences. I loved every street and every house and then I reached my own. The other members of the family were waiting for us to arrive and to welcome us back with a feast. This was home. This was where we belonged, where we had matured and taken roots.

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