Joyanna Adams

Nobody's Opinion

Nobody Remembers: The Beautiful Lady From Dresden

Nobody Remembers

“It’s no use.” Ruth said, as she came inside the public bathroom after our swim at the local pool.

Ruth

Ruth

“You’re STILL ugly, and you always will be!”

I was combing my wet hair out, and her comment stung me to the core. I had only been introduced to Ruth that day…and I was the new ‘girl’ at the adult swim class. I loved to swim, and thought it would be a good thing to join up. Most of the woman, were older than me, and had been swimming at noon, every day in summer, for a good twenty years. She said it with such seriousness, I could only assume that she meant it. Did I take it wrong? No, I told myself, this woman really hates me for some reason.

What did I do wrong?—I thought to myself— I tried so hard to be nice to everyone, introducing myself, and everyone was nice, but this Ruth lady. She looked mean. She talked mean to me—always throwing insults at me. No matter how hard I tried to talk to her, she ignored me or insulted me.

“Oh, that’s just Ruth” said the other women. “She’s just like that.”

One night I was telling my husband, how bad I felt. “Why does she say such mean things? ” I decided to stay away from her. I started to REALLY dislike her. She was sort of the silent leader of the cocoon ladies of the pool.

And then one day, she said to me…”Do you want to read a book?”

Out of the blue. “Sure! I said.” And she brought me the story of Dresden, her home town. How it was during WWII. It was an old book, one that was out of print years ago. From Wikipedia:

The bombing of Dresden was an American and British attack on the city of Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony, that took place in the final months of the Second World War in the European Theatre. In four raids between 13 and 15 February 1945, 722 heavy bombers of the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and 527 of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) dropped more than 3,900 tons of high-explosive bombs and incendiary devices on the city.[1] The bombing and the resulting firestorm destroyed over 1,600 acres (6.5 km2) of the city centre.[2] An estimated 22,700[3] to 25,000[4] people were killed. Three more USAAF air raids followed, two occurring on 2 March and 17 April aimed at the city’s railroad marshaling yard and one small raid on 17 April aimed at industrial areas.

That started the friendship. With that book, I understood Ruth. Who she was. WHY she was so…hard.dresden three

After I had read the book, I asked her about it. She went on to describe the day the bombs fell in Dresden. When the allies destroyed the whole city. They had heard the bombs dropping when she and her mother and sister were in the kitchen. Her father worked at the railroad station, loading food and guns for Hitler’s army, so he wasn’t home. They ran out the back door of her house, and when they turned around they watched not only their house go up in flames, but the whole city block. Fire was everywhere. She was 16. She had only the clothes on her back—so they ran, and ran, and she was told to go find her father at the railroad station by her mother. She never saw her mother or sister again.

That was one swim day’s conversation….I couldn’t wait to hear more.

And then she stopped. Like bits and pieces of a puzzle, she left out pieces…her story would stop. As if, the memories were too painful. Later on I learned that she had a friend that roamed with her through the streets, trying to find food… but then, the Russians came in. And every woman they saw, they raped. And they raped you in the most horrible way. Two men would hold on to your arms, and two men would hold your legs, and hold you up against a wall…and take turns. I’m not sure how many times Ruth was raped, but the anger…was still there.

Dead German girl, killed by Russians.

Dead German girl, raped & killed by Russians.

The Russians took her and her girlfriend to a far off Russian prison camp. She said it was in Russia, so she had to walk, and it was cold, and their feet froze, and she had a coat, but no more. She said they were in the prison for a good six months, but they ‘dug’ their way out. Under the dirt. It took them a long time to dig the hole, and they dug it with their fingernails…but they got out and walked back to Dresden to look for her dad.

She found her dad. He was still at the station, but the trains were destroyed.

When they got back to Germany, she said the allies MADE all the German people pick up the dead Jews and carry them to their graves. She had to write all the numbers on all the arms. It was some of the hardest work she had ever done, and she had to do it day after day, she said.

Germans Help.

Germans Help.

That’s all she said that day…the next day, I asked her about her husband.—Who had died years before.

“How did you two meet?” I asked.

“He just saw me one day…he was an American Soldier, and he was Italian. ”

She told me how far he would come just to see her. Whenever he got a day off, he’d drive out to meet her, and she said she always dressed very proper. She wore white gloves, and her best Sunday dress every time he came.

Her father PUSHED her to marry this young American. Her father wanted her to live in America…so she did.

She lived happily here…had a son, and a grandson. She taught swimming at the local pool. She became an American citizen…but I could tell, at heart…she was still a German. She still thought the Jews caused the war, and she still admired Hitler…go figure. And she was convinced there WAS no god.

Who could blame her? My god. Who could blame her? I’m sure the few things she told me were just the tip of the misery she endured.

After I gave her the book back, she didn’t talk anymore about the war.

She talked about her current boyfriend…and how he had a ranch with horses, and they would stay in the same hotel room and she didn’t care what people thought…they were boyfriend and girlfriend.

I saw them once, drive pass my house. He was in his nineties, and she was driving…and they were just adorable. Ruth was 85. They looked so perfectly cute together, and she talked about him all the time.

As each summer came and went, we started to talk more. We talked about many things, but mostly I just admired her outlook. She walked every single morning, and swam, and belonged to a music group who got together and played each other songs. She kept busy.

They’d learn a new song every week in her music class. Her biggest pride was her $50,000 organ sitting in her living room. Learning to play, “To Dream the Impossible Dream” was a big challenge for her.

Ruth's $50,000 organ.

Ruth’s $50,000 organ.

The swim ladies don’t keep in touch over the winter, but last winter, I called her before Christmas–bad news: Her boyfriend had died. She had fallen in her home. Got a big gash on her head and broke her arm in three places. When I went to see her, she looked defeated. She couldn’t put up her Christmas tree. It was just too sad. I would have done it for her, but I kept thinking…where is this family of hers? Where is her son?

The death of her boyfriend did what the Russians couldn’t do…break her spirit. After all…she lived alone. So, I went to see her again in March. She sounded so upbeat…she said she was driving again, and going back to her music lessons, and going to parties…she sounded fine. No…she sounded great!

And so, when I’d heard she died in April, and didn’t show up at the first day of adult swim, it was…the feeling that you always get: I should have gone more often to see her…I should have this, I should have that…but now, it’s too late. Oh Ruth.

One of the ladies, (Chloe) who had been her friend for over twenty year came today. She didn’t even know that Ruth had died.

It was the only thing she looked forward to…because she was taking care of her husband who had Alzheimer’s ..but he had bought her a pool pass because he AWAYS remembered, how much she loved to see Ruth. She is…88. She is not going to ride her bike anymore because her doctor told her that older people who break bones, usually die within 6 months….and Ruth just proved the theory now, didn’t she?

You know, we all think life in America is so bad, but Americans have never had to go through what Ruth went through, and what many people are going through right now all over the world.

To hear some idiot complain that some business refused to bake them a cake, or some feminist whining that their company didn’t want to pay for their contraceptives, …it makes you wonder….what in the hell happened to people? Don’t they realize just how good they have it?baby angel

No..

I’m so glad God introduced Ruth into my life. She was brave, smart, confident, and lived life as it should be lived…to the fullest each day. Ruth made me appreciate MY life more. What a great gift.

I will miss her. To me, she was a real somebody. She might not have believed in God, but God believed in her, and I was so lucky that he shared her a little bit with me.

I don’t think it has really hit me yet. …you know how that goes.

Now, that painful memory of her calling me “ugly” is now….one of my most favorites of my life. And she was right: Her kind of beauty I could only hope for, and I could never even come close to.

Funny, isn’t it?

 

 

 

May 29, 2015 - Posted by | History, Uncategorized | ,

1 Comment »

  1. What a wonderful (wonderful and sad) story. Thank you for taking the time to write it and post it.

    Like

    Comment by snopercod | May 30, 2015 | Reply


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