Life Interrupted (by WWII)

by Kim on October 22, 2009

My mother and her College friends Fall 1941

My mother and her College friends Fall 1941

I distinctly remember my mother telling me about her life her first year of college at Tennessee Martin Teacher’s College. She started college when she was 16 and was one of the youngest there. She was on the school women’s basketball team and basketball was big in Tennessee. It was played with half-court rules then.  She had many friends and dated many different fellows during this first year. After her hard life in Appalachia, she was at her pinnacle at Tennessee Martin. She was carefree and enjoyed getting to know the young men and women in her classes.

How different it was from her second year there. This was 1942 – the first year of World War II. They started the year all together. But at semester break, war was declared against Japan. Instead of returning to school, all of the men reported to basic training. Her class was one-half the size that it was the preceding year. All of the men were gone. That year the fun and laughter was measured.

Uncle Warren entering WWII

Uncle Warren entering WWII

My mother’s older 3 brothers enlisted right away into the Navy. Her oldest brother Warren was seriously dating a young woman named Dimple (her real name!). And he left for the Pacific Ocean without making a commitment to their relationship. He was at war for three years and returned home to Tennessee when the war was over to find that Dimple was married to a fellow that was excused from participating in the war. As the story goes, my uncle either didn’t write to Dimple during those years or perhaps he did and the letters were not delivered. He was devastated to find his love was married.

A few years later, he married a young lady that he knew from the area and they moved to Indiana. We visited them often as they lived just a few hours from our family. My mother and her brother were very close. After 25 years of marriage, my Uncle Warren’s wife died from breast cancer. He had no family in Indiana and returned to Tennessee often to visit his brother there.

After one visit to Tennessee, he returned to Indiana alone. Almost after the instant that he opened the door to his empty home, the phone was ringing. It was his old girlfriend Dimple. Her husband died 19 years previously and she had heard that Warren was in Tennessee recently. Would he consider going to lunch with her the next time he came to visit his brother?

Uncle Warren, Dimple, and my mohter

Uncle Warren, Dimple, and my mother

Uncle Warren drove immediately to our home to talk to my mother about it. She knew Dimple from their growing up years. He asked my mother if she thought it would be OK if he returned to Tennessee to see his previous girlfriend. My mother gave her blessing and was in fact delighted to her that Dimple was interested in seeing him again. He then drove to Tennessee to visit his brother again and to rekindle the relationship with Dimple that he started 35 years earlier.

Uncle Warren and Dimple married a few weeks later. I wish you could have seen the love that they had for each other. You could observe it with their every action. It was mutual adoration for the 16 years they were married. He would talk and she would tilt her chin up to listen to his words while locking the gaze from his eyes. They would talk to each other and sometimes appearing to be unaware that others were in the room. She was ill toward the end of their marriage and he would cater to her every need. His purpose was to serve her. He did it with joy. They were kind and gentle and sweet to each other in every encounter I saw them have. If ever two people were meant to be together, I believe it was my Uncle Warren and his love Dimple.

Uncle Warren died November of 2000. I traveled to Tennessee for the funeral with my sister and we visited with Dimple who was hospitalized the day of the funeral. She was truly suffering from a broken heart. They didn’t spend their entire lives together. But it wasn’t the number of the years together that mattered. It was the amount of love during the time they had together that counted. How beautiful that they ended up together after being separated by war.

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