Continued from October 25, 2016
Rosa stirred from her half-sleep on the train as it pulled into Minneapolis’ Milwaukee Road Depot. Tired, confused…but she’d long ago grown used to such feelings. She gathered what few belongings she had—a Polish newspaper, a worn leather purse she’d found in the trash at the Chicago train station, and her carryall. She found the ladies’ room and washed up, as best she could.
She sat on a bench and pawed through her carryall for the note a priest in Chicago had given her, important information she needed if she were to find a place to stay.
Her heart began to pound with the growing sense of panic; where was it? She could not possibly have lost it.
The small corner of a piece of paper distracted her frantic search. It poked out of a tiny slit in her carryall, a slit she’d not noticed in the over-stuffed bag. Carefully and with great curiosity, she pulled it out.
“My dear Rosalia,” it read.
It was a letter from her mother who must have hidden it in the carryall her mother had brought up from the barn almost a year ago.
Rosa ignored the commotion of people rushing for their trains. She was deaf to the beggars who approached her for change. The only thing she heard was her mother’s voice in the year-old letter.
“I do not know when you will find this. Perhaps you never will. Perhaps I will never see you again. You will be so far away that I am afraid for you. I was so angry when you left. How would you live? How could you be safe? You know no one in America. But I understand. War in Poland isn’t far away. There is so little future for you here. Be safe, my daughter.”
Passersby stared at the young woman who sobbed as she bent over a letter.
“Can I help?” asked a young man in heavily accented English.
Rosa looked up but said nothing.
“No,” she answered; “just very old news.”
He squeezed her hand as she got up and gathered her things.
“I am Stanislaw Koziol,” he said.
Rosa slowly looked up. “Rosalia…I mean Rosa Lukaska. Can you tell me how to get to the trolley?”