In Spite of Everything is a collection of nonfiction stories about women in love. Three of the women had lackluster marriages before they realized that life had more to offer. One couple is African American, another Puerto Rican. Miriam and Rachael met in a Jewish Bungalow Colony in Upstate New York. One woman was a Catholic nun from 1943 to 1948, and her partner, also a devout Catholic, had abstained from contact with women for seven years, trying to please her family. Ann and Faith met in the Navy in 1954 and witnessed, first hand, the cruel treatment of homosexuals and anyone whom the Navy thought were homosexuals. Quilting brought Laura who was fifty at the time, together with Kathleen, who was forty-one. One couple comes from the Deep South and another is Canadian. Five couples raised children together. These women are PhDs, RNs, abuse counselors, teachers, accountants, principals, hair dressers, hospital administrators, home makers, entrepreneurs, and computer network specialists. One thing brings them all together. Each shared a desire so compelling that she left husband, or family, and risked the alienation of society and the anger of a wrathful God to be with the woman she loved.
She wrenched her back and neck and had to be helped into her house.” Mel and Adam sat in the den watching television. The women were in the kitchen. Rachael was in agony even after several aspirin. Miriam asked, “Would you like me to rub you with Ben Gay?” If Rachael had said “No,” it might have taken ten more years for Miriam to acknowledge her feelings for Rachael! Thankfully, when she began kneading Rachael’s neck and shoulders, a little thrill caught in her chest. A warm, pink blush rose to her cheeks. She kept moving her fingers slowly over Rachael’s back and Miriam knew that touching Rachael meant more than therapeutic massage. She tried to compose herself and assumed a casual expression, but it was too late. Rachael had seen, and Rachael knew that her prayers had been answered.
When the summer was over, Rachael picked up her daily routine. She missed seeing Miriam every day. It made it difficult to suppress the longing that had surfaced at the end of their summer in the country. Rachael had waited ten years for Miriam’s touch. Miriam was such a tender, sweet woman, and Rachael knew her touch would heal her of more than her sprained neck. She must make sure of Miriam’s feelings. She remembers, “I had been invited to go out to eat with friends whom I usually enjoyed. We would laugh, have a few drinks, and have a good time. This time, all I could think of was how much I missed Miriam. It was pining that brought physical pain.” Rachael couldn’t even manage to make the right responses in their conversation. A big invisible fist had seized her and started squeezing. “I couldn’t think about anything but getting back to Miriam to talk with her. I needed to ask the question that would change everything, for better or worse. Would Miriam remember what I asked? Would she remember the answer?”
The next day was Sunday, and that meant bowling league. Rachael knew that Miriam would be smoking pot that evening to get through sex with her husband, so Rachael chose that time to call Miriam. “I knew she would be stoned on pot, and I needed the truth. Maybe if she said, ‘No’ when I asked her the question, she would be stoned enough to forget the whole conversation.” After several busy signals, the phone rang. As soon as Miriam answered Rachael asked, “Do you have sexual feelings for me?”
There was a quick intake of breath and then Miriam answered, “Yes.”
There was only a long silence from Miriam’s end.
Leila Peters received her bachelors and masters degrees at Butler University where she met Suzie, the woman she loved. They were both teachers. In their thirty-five years together they traveled, bought a farm and raised Arabian horses, and found a dream cabin in Montana. Until In Spite of Everything became her passion, she wrote magazine articles about the things she loved: farm life, nature, and horses. She has been published in Outdoor Indiana, The Western Horseman, The Writers’ Center of Indianapolis periodical, Flying Island, and Teacher Magagine. It was Suzie’s death that prompted the writing of their story which became the catalist for gathering stories of other women who have been in loving relationships for nineteen years or more. Leila still lives on the farm she and Suzie bought in 1970 and loves to ride and walk over the land. She also spends time at her cabin in Montana in the summer, where she does much of her writing. After living alone for seventeen years she was blessed for the second time with a wonderful woman. Another chapter begins.