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Monday, 09 March 2009

Sentimental Goodbye

By liloldme

I'm on a train going from Chicago to Seattle - a journey of four days.

My sister and I share a sleeping compartment. The lower berth is fine, but the upper berth is small. It is necessary to insert oneself envelope style into the upper berth and try to sleep on a hard mattress.

We took turns.

When it was my next turn, I went instead to the observation car. It was late, the lights were dim. An old lady sat looking at the ribbons of lights outside the windows of the fast-moving train. She appeared to be weeping.

I approached her and asked if she would mind having company. She dabbed her eyes and told me she would really like someone with whom she might share her story.

"It was 1943,"she said, "I was seventeen years old and like all of us in those days, was doing whatever I could to help in the war effort.

“I was working at the local USO Canteen and I met a soldier. It was love at first sight. I know this sounds silly, but in those days love was far more immediate and intense, and necessary.

"We married without telling his parents who were having a hard time accepting his enlistment. There was no time for planning, presents or parties - just moments in a time of chaos. His folks, like thousands of others, were staggered by their altered world and yearned for the old days, the old ways.

"I'm telling you this," the old woman said, "because it explains this next part."

"Phillip." she said gazing into the darken night. "His name was Phillip. He was given two weeks leave before being shipped out and he wanted his parents to meet me. They were not delighted by his sudden marriage. His mother's smile could not hide her outrage.

When it came time to leave for Seattle where his troop ship was waiting, his parents insisted on going with him to say goodbye. They also insisted I stay home - citing the crowded troop trains, my young age, the importance of a mother's love etc., etc."

"I so longed to go. I begged. Phillip begged, but to no avail. Time," she said, "ran out. His parents boarded the train with him and never even looked back to say goodbye to me. I never heard from them again - or him.

"Phillip died two weeks after he arrived in the Pacific," she said. tears beginning to well up once more.

After a long pause and a deep sigh, she said, "And that's why I'm on this train. I'm going to the pier where once, long ago, Phillip boarded the troop ship that took him forever away. I'm going to say goodbye."

[EDITORIAL NOTE: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. Instructions are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post

Comments

Oh, how very sad. I hope she found peace. And I hope that his parents at some point realized that they did a grievous wrong.

His selfish parents should have been punished for what they did to that poor woman. That she was making that trip alone after so many years shows how she must have loved her sailor. The loss of their son should have made them aware of how cruel they had been, but I am sure it didn't or they would have gotten in touch with her.

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