Through the wonders of the Internet, tonight I talked with the events coordinator at Truman's Little White House in Key West, Florida. During our conversation, he suggested that someone video tape my parents telling stories of the olden days. Of their youth. Of their time together.
My parents met when my mom was 15 1/2 and dad was 17. Mom had been out with a friend of hers, that was my dad's cousin, Vi. My dad's oldest brother was with the group. My dad went to find them. If I remember correctly, drinking was involved. Dad gave Mom a ride home. He said he kissed her goodnight, and watched her stagger to the door. He was in love.
When Dad got home that night, he told his mother he had met the girl he was going to marry. Grandma asked who the girl was, and when Dad told her Mom's name her reaction was, "The Hell you are!" Seems years earlier Grandpa had been a witness at a wedding, where the bride was very pregnant. The couple getting married had the same last name as Mom. Grandma thought that very pregnant bride was Mom's mother.
Only after Grandma interrogated Mom about her lineage were Mom and Dad allowed to go on their first date, partridge hunting. Grandma's mind was eased, because Grandpa had been witness to one of Mom's aunt and uncle's weddings. The unborn child in attendance was Mom's cousin. Grandma loved Mom too.
After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Dad lied his age to join the Navy. He was stationed in Hawaii, as a mechanic. He has told me he wrote letters to Mom everyday, as a way of being able to talk to her. Mom was still in high school, and she proudly wore Dad's pin in her school picture. It was in one of those many letters that Dad says he proposed to Mom, then eagerly awaited her answer. He knew she would have to talk to her father first.
On September 1st, 1945, my parents were married. Dad wore his Navy uniform, and because of silk rationing, Mom wore a gray flannel suit. The older brother Mom had been with the night my folks met was the best man, and one of Mom's good friends was maid of honor. Dad didn't get discharged from the Navy right away. Mom has reminisced about taking the bus to California, to live with her new husband.
Over a span of 18 years, Mom and Dad had 5 children. When my youngest brother was born, during the Viet Nam war, my oldest brother was in the Navy, on an aircraft carrier. I can still remember him coming home to a baby brudder.
My brothers and sisters have given Mom and Dad 11 grandchildren. Some of those grandchildren, to date, have given Mom and Dad seven great-grandchildren. The tribe, I'm sure, will continue to grow. The oldest great-grandchild is a young woman of 16, the youngest a little over a month old.
Mom and Dad's story is not a unique one, it was repeated thousands of times by their generation. What awes me still is their never ending love for each other. Dad still gets tears in his eyes when he talks of his love for Mom. And she, when the lights are out and no one else can hear, will tell him how much she loves him.