Today I am linking with a Mom2MemphisAndRuby for Thrifty Finds Link Party. Hope over and see lots of other great finds…after you read this post and see mine.
My name is Ade Johnson. I was born in Brooklyn, New York on a warm summer’s night in 1920. I am the oldest of four children, three of us girls and my brother, Patrick. He was drafted nine months ago and his last letter arrived in October, eighty-three days without correspondance. My mother sits in her room and cries for hours. My sister’s can’t understand her melancholy, but I know.
Now, I do know.
I met Jim at the spring dance. Every available person under the age of thirty was there. War loomed near and we took full advantage of any excuse for a little fun.
I could smell the garbage on eighteenth street and yesterday’s rotting fish from down at the wharf, but only faintly. Perfume was the smell that whirled around girls skirts, little wafts escaped with every flip of the hair. It was intoxicating.
Well, that and Jim’s blue eyes. I hadn’t ever seen eyes so blue, like the lake in that child’s book my mother read over and over to my little sister Betsie. I got lost in those lakes, dance after dance, until he stopped me to go for drinks. Told me he couldn’t dance another minute, not even with a pretty girl like me, until he had some punch.
I knew that night – I think I knew by the end of the first dance – I would love James Johnson the Third till death do us part.
Only I never figured death as part of our lives. We were too young, too strong, too in love.
We were to be married on May tenth, my father’s birthday. He would have loved Jim, but an accident down at the warehouse took him from us just after Betsie was born. I feared my mother wouldn’t make it, but she clung to Betsie like she was her lifeline, her last connection to her husband of eighteen and a half years.
The day Jim received a letter saying his draft card was pulled is the day I began to die inside. I had a bad feeling, but I kept a smile on face, right up to the time Jim boarded that train. I didn’t let him see me cry. Mother said I should be strong for him. He needed to know I would be well, that I would wait for him.
I tried to convince him to marry me before he left. I wanted to elope, to run far away with him, far away from war and the army, and I never wanted to return. He said we couldn’t do that. He was glad to go to war. Oh, he would miss me, I knew that, but the call of duty was stronger than love itself.
I hate the war. I hate the army. I hate duty and drab green uniforms.
The night before he left, Jim and I sat on the water’s edge. The wharf was busy with activity, day and night, but for us, there were only two people on the dock that night.
He reached into his pocket and pulled a little silver ring out, a promise ring – a promise to return, to love me forever, to make me his wife.
Taking my hand, he slipped the ring on my left ring finger, where my wedding should have been going. He told me that he would think of me every single day and when I started missing him, all I had to do was look down at his heart, the heart I was wearing on my fourth finger.
Our names were inscribed – Jim + Ade.
Right next to our names was the year, 1942. The year we should have been married.
I said it was bad luck putting the year on the ring. 1942 wasn’t the end, only the beginning. Our love would last so many years, as many years as forever.
Jim laughed at me. He didn’t believe in luck, only love.
Now it’s 2007, a lifetime of years away from 1942. I still look down at the fourth finger on my left hand every time I’m missing him. Jim never came home. He was killed in Berlin on February 25, 1943.
I’m so old now. I’m almost glad Jim can’t see me with all my wrinkles and thin hair. My eyes aren’t so good anymore, but in my mind, I still see his blue eyes. Every time I close my eyelids, his blue lakes look down on me. Some days I will my eyes not to open. I just want to get lost in a sea of blue, in the memory of love.
I won’t be around much longer. I never married and have no children. I am not alone in this world though. Jim is with me in my heart. I do hope I am burried with the ring on my wedding finger.
I really hope Jim + Ade lived happily ever after. 1942 may have only been the beginning for them, but I’ll never know. I’ll think of them though. Every time I look down at my hand.
Sorry I can’t get a clear picture of the inscription. I tried. Oh, boy did I try, but I lack photography skills and a good camera, so you’ll just have to trust me.
Did you ever find a treasure and imagine a story to go with it?