My parents fell in love as teenagers. World War II interrupted their wedding plans but they wed on his return from England, so many years later. A lot of the airmen overseas and the women left behind, took up with others, the relationship not withstanding the time and distance. Dad certainly had a score of beautiful women present opportunities to him, from what my uncles who served with him said. But he came home and immediately married my Mom, after years apart.
He himself, tells few stories of those times. All I have of those lost years is a stack of letters, carefully held together with a ribbon.
I wrote of that in Book Two: Saving Grace:
There underneath the photos lies a stack of letters. Mom and Dad wrote to one another for four years while he was overseas, not returning Stateside once during that entire time. Reading them feels a little like eavesdropping, as you can almost hear the words as they formed---heartfelt, intimate. I opened one; it was just one single page, and I thought of the way their day stopped at the brink of it. In these letters bridging the time and distance they had to be apart, there was talk of how much they missed one another; of how their families were faring; of good coffee and how Dad missed vegetables from the farm; of burning heat and a cold on the field that would murmur to your very bones. There was playful affection, there was unstated passion and stated promise. Some was in Mom's flowery script, the rest in Dad's meticulous, indomitable hand. "Is everyone there well?" Mom would ask, and Dad would reply that they were, though some were now only well beyond Lamentations.
Dad never imagined that he would not come back, he never told himself that they would not be married, would not have children, would not make a life. Even in times of great battle, he held the final prize in his hand, never doubting that it would come to be.
He watched over that dream as our Father in heaven watches over us, his creation shaped out of the primal absolute that contained nothing and all, knowing we are equally as capable of being ruined and being saved, but believing we will be saved, as to believe anything else is to perish.
We all have our dreams, just as we all have our fears. My husband was, and is, a gifted musician, a prodigy as a youngster. He performed with a symphony orchestra in Austria before he was 18, offered a scholarship to study music.
He wanted to be an engineer.
He still plays, well enough to make me cry. But his passion is creating---inventing things out of form and void, and steel and noise, things that touch his brain and his heart---for what the heart holds becomes our only truth.
I talk to my father every night, there in his dwindling days. He has done a lot to be proud of: Golden Glove Boxer, retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, a manager in a large industrial company, past Secretary and President of the Lion's Club, a Freemason and father. I asked him if he had any regrets, things he wished he had done. I asked, not to remind him of regrets, but to see what in his mind's eye is important, looking back almost 100 years.
What he said was his regret was. "that time in my 20's I spent $5 on hair tonic to grow hair from the bald barber", and he chuckled.
What he said he was most happy for surprised me, until I understood what it means.
Dad had a wonderful marriage with my step-mom in his later years. We all thought the world of her, and he genuinely loved her. But as he nears his end days, it's the photos of my Mom that have come out of drawers and sit on the table by his bed. So I was at first taken aback when he said "I'm glad I loved and lost Gracie" (my mom)
But it was not because he was the one that physically remained after she died, but because he was glad that he had followed his heart, not his good sense. Because if he had not, she would not have become the one he had to grieve over, because he chose to abandon the idea of them.
Those of us who have lost our precious furry family members understand. Though we hate that deep hurt of loss when it is their time to leave us, we have no regrets about the months or years with that soul, if offered a choice now to change the experience. So many precious memories, so much love, we would not have experienced if we'd not dare to dream that dream, of making them part of our lives.
So as you look around your life this day- think to things you'd like to hold onto, picture flesh and blood, wood or glass, cat or dog, paper or plastic. Do not think about all you will risk to get it. Do not think about how long it might take, or even if it will be what you expected. Do not think about what happens if you get it and lose it one day. Do not ask if others will like it--- but only that you will like it.
I look at a photo of my parents on their wedding day. Dad in uniform, my Mom wearing a beautiful dark suit. They look both innocent and immortal, even if slightly amazed to be saying those vows. Best friends since sixth grade, they were in their mid-twenties before fate was such that they could be joined.
On my table is a violin, worth ten's of thousands of dollars. I carefully put it away, for in a couple of hours my husband will be home and that table will be littered with all manner of tooling bits and mechanical drawings and plans. They will lie next to a small pile of books to be autographed and mailed for a dog auction and a little journal where I jot down bits for further writing. All of those things are objects that print the often silent mold of our dreams and desires, as easy to be ignored as small fairy feet, when they are magic indeed.
Close your eyes and dream your dream---then make it real. – L.B. Johnson
Title Writer Shed Stories
Writers in this edition: Geralyn Hesslau Mcgrady, Rob Armstrong, Veryan Williams Wynn, Gale Acuff, Juliana Johnson, Nick Young, Jeannine Burgdorf, Cyn Kitchen, Jillian Quist, Barbara Yauss, Suzanne Eaton, James W. Gaynor, Suzy Jackson, Bill Mathis, LB "Brigid" Johnson. Edited by David W. Berner
Genre Short Stories
Publisher Writer Shed Press
WRITER SHED STORIES Vol. 2 LOVE & SACRIFICE is a collection of short fiction, memoir, poetry, and creative nonfiction from authors all over the world. The aim of Writer Shed Press is to offer stories that leave lasting impressions, words that linger long after you've read them. WRITER SHED STORIES is published annually by Writer Shed Press and edited by award-winning author David W. Berner.
And we talked, late into the nights, sipping a finger of whiskey, the sound of the wind chimes he crafted as a hobby tinkling from outside. We did not talk of his days under the ocean as a Submariner or my days aloft as an airline pilot. He talked about how much he missed our Mom and how he hoped Dad would live to be 100. We shared our memories, especially those as we ran as children along the edge of the waters, along the rim of the earth as though we and we alone, were its inhabitants and guardians. We talked of those days along the shores of the water, the floors of the forest, the things we unearthed, rocks and sticks and shells, and even occasional bone and brass. Some of those things found their way home, others were left where they lay, left as future treasure.