I first saw her in Biology class in the spring ’65. She simply struck a cord in my soul . . . I brought her flowers. Actually – wild flowers for a Biology project . . . just to share, you understand.
That summer she showed up at the little mom & pop grocery store that I worked at to buy an orange “push-up”. . . . all summer long. Fall saw our first formal date . . . January our first kiss on her 16th birthday. The remaining two years of high school simply disappeared . . . . June ’68. Just before the 6 month anniversary of Tet. Much to her shock and sadness I enlisted. Honestly, it made no difference – everyone was getting “the letter”. Ten months later I was bound for Taiwan . . . wondering if she’d wait, if I’d see her again.
Christmas ’70 I gave her and my mom their Christmas present – my request for a direct transfer to Viet Nam had been accepted . . . I wouldn’t be home in April, it would be another year . . . . and still she waited.
May 70 the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel came out – she sent me the lyrics, hand written on blue paper with white dots – her explanation of her love. The letter still sits in the drawer next to my side of the bed. And she waited . . .
April 21st-ish . . . I’m sitting on a commercial aircraft rolling out on the runway at DaNang . . . I’d made my DEROS date . . . Shortly after liftoff the pilot came online saying we were beyond B-40 range . . . . then rifle range . . . . finally SAM range . . . . we were “safe”. What an odd feeling, the relief of that word . . .
4 hours after I left we landed at McChord AFB (International Dateline) for the trip to SeaTac and a 747 headed for Chicago and finally Flint, Michigan. I was in the very rear seat of a 7XX somethin’ when we came to a halt. The stewardess asked where I was coming from, I said I was home from Vietnam. She asked the other folks to let me off the plane first with a nice round of applause from the folks on my way out . . . . across the tarmac . . . and into the arms of the love of my life . . . .
She went to work (yep, she had to work that night!) while I went to find some new clothes – I literally had only the clothes on my back, a set of 1505s. Evening found me at her home, waiting for her to get home. We took a short drive, to say hello, to see if the connection was still there, so she could see if a psyco sat next to her – or if I was still “her” Bill. We ended up at the church parking lot . . . and I had to know.
“Will you marry me??” No hesitation, no delay – a simple “Yes” crossed her lips.
The following day – again at her home – we prepared to go out for dinner, she and I, to celebrate life, love and our formal beginning. This was my lovely wife-to-be, April 1971:
A year later – August 19th, 1972, we stood before family and God and pledged our lives together. It’s been 41 years since that date. Some smooth as glass, some simply ripped us to shreds . . . still, under all of it, and through all of it . . . . our love and life together has survived and thrived.
So, to my lovely and loving wife . . . I can never possibly express what you mean to me, the joy I felt being wrapped in your arms after two years apart, and the comfort I find that being wrapped in your arms feels exactly the same today!
Happy Anniversary kid . . . I love you with all of my heart!