Man did I ever have a ball tonight up at The Stomp. I met this doll Don Williams: 6 foot tall, light brown curly hair, built real good and he is double fine in my estimation. Just everybody, I mean positively everybody was there that I knew. Don says “Man you sure have a lot of friends here”. He is from Huntington Park. I saw Pinky and positively ignored him, but he didn’t like that so he started bothering me. I says “Leave me alone this is my guy”, and I hug Don. Then Pinky had the damnedest nerve, later when I was dancing with Don, to come over and lay his filthy hand on my shoulder and say “Hey there Vilma!” I says “You damn SOB quit bothering me, get your filthy paws off of me you uncouth person and I told him to shove it up your hynee!” He says “Who are you telling to do that”? I says “Wise up man I’m not telling my Grand Pop”. Then I made a big old U-turn because I thought he was going to hit me, but he didn’t say one damn thing. I went home with lover Don. I didn’t let him neck with me but he kissed me 3 times good night. Real crazy kisses. I have a date with him Friday night to go to the show. I really like him you know that?
Monday February 4, 1952
Man, was I surprised when Bob and a friend of his came over tonight. He’s some guy I met where I work, he quit though. He’s real cute. We went and got Mary Alice for his friend and then went over for a drive. We necked, he is alright but I have so special love for him. They are coming over tomorrow night they say. I got in at quarter after 12pm.
Tuesday Feb. 5, 1952
Bob and his friend Frank came down again tonight. They wanted to go out, but I couldn’t because it’s a week night and all that, and I got home late last night already. So we went over Joyce’s house and Jackie’s house for Frank to meet them. I think Bob is good looking, but I sure as hell can’t see what those girls up at work saw in him. I think he is slightly a jerk. Jackie made some coffee for him and the slop artist slurped it all up. What a vulgar noise! Oh well, everybody can’t be perfect. They say they are coming over Monday or Tuesday night again, that’s the only night Bob is off. He’s a cab driver now you know. But I’m not exactly trembling with anticipation for Monday or Tuesday.
Friday Feb 8, 1952
Well, this little girl got stood up tonight by Don Williams, the rat! Daddy says throughout my life I’ll be getting harder knocks than being stood up. I says “Oh I already know that”. I’ve got harder knocks than that, but I guess I’ll suffer much more than I have before I give up the ghost.
Vilma’s father Michael, who survived through the Depression Era living in New York (and who survived a road trip from New York to California with his wife and his four young kids), usually spoke bluntly and with an air of common sense. He certainly had his share of hard knocks, but that never stopped his joy for life. A man with twinkling blue eyes, a cheerful smile and rosy cheeks, he could often be seen tending to his garden which contained his prized beefsteak tomatoes. These tomatoes were so juicy and fragrant, you can eat them just like an apple picked fresh from the tree.
Now in his young 50’s, his Chestnut brown hair growing white, his worry on this night was that of his eldest daughter Vilma, and the man who stood her up. Instead of saying such calming, empathetic words such as “It’ll be OK dear” or “There’s plenty of other fish in the sea”, he tells Vilma starkly: “Throughout your life you’ll be getting harder knocks than being stood up!” Just what kind of advice is this from a father? Not one to sugar coat reality, he used reality to make an important point. It’s difficult for a 17 year old to see their lives 20 years out, so he lovingly took her down a notch from her fanciful ideas. He taught her a lesson to prepare her for life. He did not want her to go through life thinking there were only rainbows and princes on every corner.
This was a point not lost on Vilma. That old phrase “give up the ghost” refers to dying, which employs ghost in the sense of "the soul or spirit.” Essentially Vilma understands that she will “suffer much more before I die”. Like all of us in the span of life, there is indeed much sorrow, suffering and hardship.
Suffering is a great mystery, not one of us is free from it in this life. However, it is what we do with suffering that makes us stronger and better people than if we never went through these trials in the first place. Life is hard, it is at times mundane, painful, unfair and full of moments of great despair…but at the same time there is the contradiction of great joy and beauty.
Saint Pope John Paul II writes: “An inescapable burden of human existence but also a factor of possible personal growth, suffering is ‘censored,’ rejected as useless, indeed opposed as an evil, always and in every way to be avoided. When it cannot be avoided and the prospect of even some future well-being vanishes, then life appears to have lost all meaning and the temptation grows in man to claim the right to suppress it.” Suffering forces us to reflect, to enter our own solitude and in that to turn to the only One whose good transcends the evil that afflicts us. Revealing the transitory, fragile character of the goods of this body and this world, suffering is an invitation to give our bodies, ambitions, and the very sense of self to the One who has destined us to Himself".