I grew up in the midst of an epic love story. Maybe if you lived it, you would not think it such a love story. However, it turns out there were two in one. Today you just get the first and, in my opinion, best of …
In 1939 the second World War began. J. D. was 14 years old. He was the baby boy of his family with much older sisters and a brother. He had one younger sister, but from what one of his older sisters would relay when sitting around the dinner table in J. D. ’60s was that he was the baby and everyone knew he was the apple of his mother’s eye. I now realize I do not know how old J. D. was when he enlisted or even why. We know that 19 was the age you were supposed to enlist but much younger boys enlisted back then. Technically he could have enlisted at 14 but I’m pretty sure I heard that he enlisted when he was 17 or 18.
I know he was stationed at Fort Polk which conveniently for him was very close to Many. I do not know when this all went down- There are a lot of cracks in the story. I was too young to ask about it when I was a kid. I’ll start by saying J. D. saw way more time behind a flag in the guard walking in parades and in front of the president at the time. the time did come that on Mother’s Day before the war ended he had to board a ship to Germany. While on that boat trip, he said that he was pretty sure that everyone on that boat was having a fair share of his tears while he pilled potatoes. This was the funniest picture for me because JD was a handsome boy/ man and thinking of him sitting on an upturned bucket peeling thousands of potatoes (as that seemed to be the staple food) crying because he missed his momma. Well, that Homesick Boy actually never saw Germany other than from the boat he was on. The day they docked the war was announced to be over. They then decided to turn the boats around and send them home.
JD in his later years only told two stories this one about the potatoes and how lucky he was that he didn’t have to ever pull a trigger to do the things he was trained to do. He said he would have never been able to live with killing someone. I do believe that. He was a kind, soft-spoken, loving man.
Are you wondering where the love story is? Well here it goes, So there was a family of three girls and two boys and they lived in Many. The boys were in the army and the girls were home. The girls went to church with a lot of their friends and family members so on any given Sunday there would be an entire row of girls that either was kin or would be soon.
This particular Sunday there was a girl named Evelyn and her two sisters, a cousin and a good friend all sitting together at church and a bunch of soldiers from Fort Polk walked in. These boys had all come to go to church which was code to look for ladies. Lol… Anyway, this particular girl Evelyn zoomed in on one particular guy. He was very handsome but had that baby-good looks. She leans over and tells the other girls; I’m going to marry him one day. I can just imagine the sister rivalry because Evelyn’s sister actually went on a date with JD first. The story gets a bit fuzzy here but turns out JD had seen Evelyn that day too and soon would begin to court her.
The story goes that he would travel by train or bus occasionally catching a ride with a friend to come sit out on the front porch in the swing with Evelyn. This building was still standing when I left town some 15 years ago but I have no idea if it still does. Every time they passed it JD would say do you remember some young man in love coming there to see you… Well, it came to pass that JD popped the question and they were Married.
My nana and papaw had a lovely love story that kept going …After my nana had my mom, she become sick. It just seemed like every day something else would happen and she would have new things wrong with her. But they lived in Texas and Papaw worked in the oil company they lived a good life with money for all the things they needed. Then papaw started another love story with God. He got called to be a pastor and he took it. The story goes through that my nana did a big part of his homework. Well, at least she typed it.
They then moved back to Louisiana and would not again know what it was like not to struggle. The churches he took were small and could not pay much. However, where ever they were they made the people their family. Those beginning church’s when my mom was young, treated my family truly like a family, you know like the family you actually like.
For years they lived the life of a small-town pastor and family with a big heart. They would see parents and my papaw’s siblings pass, they saw tons of marriages, and losses. They went through many hospitals stays, their daughter gets married, then a few years later me coming into the world, then my mom’s divorce. My papaw would say he fell in love once again with his little perfect “Poochie.” I have no idea where he come up with that idea but from day one that was what he and my nana called me.
I had the best grandfather/father because he filled both roles for me. He taught me to shoot a basketball, ride a bike, hammer a nail, change the oil in the car, whistle, to be loving and kind. He was such a good man and a wonderful papaw. He had a lot of roles actually and I am not sure how he did them all. He was a Pastor, a devoted husband, my playmate, a farmer, a builder of houses and churches, a friend, a volunteer, and everything else he had to feel. My Nana and Papaw were a funny couple. In the later years, you could not have more different two people but somehow, they worked. He never left her side. Honestly, my ex-husband, and I am sure Jeremy as well, feels some sort of way about my expectations for a spouse being too high because I judge them all based on my papaw.
The end of this love story, ends after months in the hospital, my nana in and out of reality… He never left her side for long periods, and the day she passed on he was there. She had been taken to dialysis and because he could not go, he took a nap in her bed. That is where the doctor found him when she went to tell him. Eventually, he stopped mourning but that story is for another day…. IE Don’t be sad this was a love story of the best kind… Long and Real.