Olga’s Diary (Continued)
I never knew places like this existed. Matron said I was lucky to be here because this is a Catholic refuge and other girls in my state end up in the workhouse, which, she says, are very unpleasant places and the treatment of the women in them is often cruel and harsh.
“Here”, she said, “they will treat you well and take care of you until you have your baby”.
My room is cold and bare, with an iron bed, a table, a chest of drawers, a large white enamel jug and bowl. On the wall is a big crucifix of Jesus on the cross. I like the cross being there. It makes me feel I’m not so alone.
There are eight other women here, all waiting to have their babies. I spend my days cleaning the refuge or peeling vegetables in the kitchen. When I’m not working I stay in my room and say my rosary. We are forbidden to speak to each other during the day but can talk for one hour in the evening after prayers. But I don’t want to talk to anyone. I feel ashamed. I keep myself to myself.
Why do I dream of the things I can’t have.
Last night it was Cissie’s wedding. I saw everything so clearly.
Father Baker performed her wedding ceremony at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and there were flowers everywhere. Cissie walked down the aisle on Sydney’s arm to the music of the wedding hymn, looking beautiful in a simple white silk dress with a long tulle veil and a spray of orange blossom in her hair. The tots and I were the bridesmaids and we wore pale blue dresses with broad hats trimmed with blue lace and chiffon. Over sixty people attended the service, as well as Dyke’s family and friends and including three of Cissie and Dyke’s children.
After the ceremony everyone went back to Mission House. In the back garden Mammie had arranged for a large booth made of bamboo and coconut leaves to be built and decorated with lignum vitae and pink bougainvillea. This was where all the wedding presents were put before they were unwrapped. There was a table in the garden covered with a white linen table cloth and on it stood the wedding cake with a net over it and pinned in several places.
After the bride, the wedding cake was the centre of interest and the guests had to bid money to uncover the cake. They would try and outbid each other and by the time the cake was uncovered Cissie and Dyke would have several pounds, as well as lots of lovely presents. It was such a happy, noisy day with so much laughter.
I thought about Michael Sales and the pretty earrings he gave me at my leaving party in Kingston and how he said he’d wait for me to return so I could be his girlfriend. But not now… not me Michael. I hope you find someone nice.