The “Greatest Generation” is fading from sight. The remaining few are dying, and most of them are at the end of their ninth decade. Their parents grew up in 1930s, and they survived the depression. Then came the world war.
My father was raised on a farm. His chores included milking the cows, and finishing his chores. After his chores, he’d dress for school. He wasn’t a stellar student but followed his older brother to college and pledged the same fraternity because that’s what his dad wanted. On December 7, 1941, while lounging in the lounge with his fraternity brothers, a man ran into the great hall and declared that the Japanese had destroyed Pearl Harbor.
My mother was in high school when I met her in December 1941. Her mother was a judge’s daughter and a mayor. She was her only child. He was a “big deal” in her hometown, but he died the year before from a massive heart attack. When that terrible day occurred, my mother was listening to radio while at home. Pearl Harbor was attacked, announced the newsman.
After finishing his freshman year, my dad enlisted with the Marines early in 1943. He asked his girlfriend for her hand in marriage before he set off to Camp Pendleton. He presented her with a family ring, which she happily accepted.
My father was in Maui the following year, getting ready for another assault on an island. The couple had some downtime, and a letter was sent. He received a letter from his fiancé. It contained happy news, which he opened anticipating. Instead, he got his “Dear John” notice. He was in love with another man and decided to end their marriage. He was a flyboy, and she found another man. Her new lover was a flyboy – a pilot, and she had fallen for him. My dad was informed that they were planning to get married. He was happy to return the ring. Of course, she was very sorry. And so was my father. Like so many soldiers fighting a war, another state-side guy had stolen a wife, a girlfriend, or fiancé of a guy fighting a war.
A few months later, my mom was scrubbing the floor of a sorority sister’s bedroom. She wasn’t happy (about scrubbing floors). She was looking around the room and noticed a photo of a young man and asked her sorority sister who was “that boy”?
“That’s my brother. He’s overseas. Why don’t you write him? He’d like that.” So she did. And he wrote back – infrequently. He didn’t “know” her. He wrote his last letter to her in October 1945. My dad had been in China as an occupying force and was about to sail home. He was eager to meet his penpal.
His father returned home to see him in December 1945. He then traveled to his childhood hometown, the family farm. It was his first time seeing his father in tears at the station. He drove to his farm and met his penpal. My mom and dad were married in my mom’s hometown on April 6Th,1947.
Four children were raised by them. They had some bumpy roads and also experienced good times. Their fourth child was and remains a hellion, a “catholic mistake” and general pain in the butt. This would be you. At 26 their daughter was killed. They remained faithful to one another through all this.
On April 6,ThTheir 75th anniversary is celebrated.ThWedding Anniversary. According to government statistics, 70-year-old couples are the most successful.ThOne-tenth to one percent. There are no statistics for reaching 75 years married, because it’s so rare.
They have never lost their love for one another. Happy Anniversary, kids!