Love in the time of war

By Donna Grizzle, MSCM, Activity Director

As an employee of Presbyterian Manor, I often only get to hear one-sided love stories. The majority of our residents are widowed women. I’ve heard stories of dancing and going to the picture show. Dancing and going on a picnic. Dancing and going on a drive. Admiring the neighbor teenagers when you were a little girl as they go on dates and longingly waiting for your time to be swept off your feet just as they are.

Many soldiers never came home to their loved ones.

Usually, these love stories do involve dancing, and what a romantic time that must have been—they certainly knew how to do it back then. One of the most heartwarming stories that sticks out from our current residents involves love during the war.

One resident, who for privacy purposes we will call “Presley,” recalls when she was young and she was in love with her best friend. He was going away to war, and she intended to wait on him, but he had other plans. One late night he picked her up and away they drove. He was taking her to elope. The plan seemed spontaneous and romantic, until a few hours later it was dark and they still hadn’t reached their destination. Feelings of worry about disappointing their family came over her. On their way, she asked that they stop at her grandparents for the night and continue on in the morning.

Maybe it was just because it had gotten dark. They woke her grandparents up and her all-knowing grandfather came to the door. “What is this we have? Do your parents know you are here? Come in, come in.” They told him of their plan. “I see” he said. “Well, nothing to do tonight but go to sleep. You, go upstairs to your grandmother. You, you are staying down here…with me.”

Presley went upstairs as directed. Grandfather sat with the young man the rest of the night. Grandfather talked him into doing right by Presley and not putting her through the worry of waiting on him as a newly married girl. What if something happened to him? She would be widowed. Why not make a promise, come home, and have a proper wedding when her momma could be there? Those sensible words sank into the heart of the young, waiting soldier.

In the morning, he drove Presley home to her momma. He went away to war. This was the time when one would go for very long periods of time without hearing from loved ones. Presley kept busy with school, doing things for her mother, crocheting and cooking and learning from her soon-to-be mother-in-law. Time went on. When the war was over, he never came home. He was never found. He would be forever missing. And Presley would be forever faithful, still waiting on her best friend and love of her life to return to her, knowing that she may not have gotten to spend a lifetime with him here on earth, but that she will spend an eternity with him one day.