We#039;re made up of many layers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 17, 2002

I went out for lunch with Vera Hill and Marvin Repinski a week ago. Vera was the woman who wrote that she didn't like me writing about butchering chickens and geese. Marvin wrote a week later to the paper and suggested we meet for lunch. We three met at the Chatham Street Caf for lunch. Vera doesn't like to read about chickens being butchered because she is not fond of birds. She had to collect eggs as a child and the hens pecked at her. She accidentally locked herself into a chicken coop once and had to stick her head out the little door where the hens ran in and out to yell for help to get out of the coop.

"I don't like birds and their sharp beaks," Vera said cringing and shaking her head.

Vera was born in Czechoslovakia and her family was forced out of their home country during WWII. They were Jewish and the family went to Holland. Vera and her mother went on to England. She and her mother almost did not get out of Holland because of the Nazis. Her father escaped to England later after the Nazis tortured him. All his teeth were knocked out and he had holes in his back.

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Vera said, "My dad hollered in his sleep for years and had terrible nightmares because of what happened to him."

The family's financial status changed considerably after they were forced out of Czechoslovakia, going from being well off to her mother having to work as a maid. Her family had to learn to speak English and adapt to their new life.

Vera was later baptized in the Catholic Church. There is much more to Vera's saga and I am not clear on her whole life story, as we had only one lunch together, but I have great respect for her and all that she has gone through. She has a sharp wit about her, is comfortable with herself and is not afraid to speak her mind. She took care of her mother until she died, when she was in her 90s. There is much to admire about Vera Hill.

Marvin Repinski is the pastor at the Methodist Church. He teaches a creative writing class at Riverland and is kind to writers that do not have deep pockets. He has been through protests of the Vietnam War and he too likes to state his opinion. Marvin said many people have been kind to him in life and he likes to reciprocate kindness to others.

During the hour lunch we uncovered a few layers of each other's stories. We are all made up of many layers and I don't think anyone can uncover all the different layers a person is made up of. I do know that I won't quit writing about my chickens and geese and Vera will continue to not like reading about them. When I write my column, I am alone with my thoughts and it was great to have Vera and Marvin's reaction.

There are so many interesting people in our area with open minds and great goodness within them. I like it when someone doesn't agree with what I write and I get a reaction, which means I am getting read and that's the best compliment.

Sheila Donnelly can be reached at 434-2233 or by e-mail at :mailto:newsroom@austindailyherald.com