Deciding Our Future

Posted in Letters After R&R | 8 comments

Upon waking the next morning, I reached behind me for Frank, but he was not there. I felt a deep panic inside me as my eyes searched the room for Frank.

Had this all been some dream, and he was not home yet? Jumping out of bed, I grabbed my robe and put it on, and then I could smell the aroma of bacon cooking.  Frank was not only home but in our kitchen cooking bacon.

I happy-danced down the hall to the kitchen, and when I entered the room, Frank said, “Good Morning, wife.  How do you want your eggs?”

With a smile as big as Texas on my face, I answered, “Over easy with lots of husband’s hugs and kisses.”

Frank smiled at me with his “big ole dimples,” then pulled me into his arms as he hugged and kissed me.  For some reason, at that very moment, I did not even care about eating breakfast anymore. Still, he would not let me pull him away from the kitchen, so I decided to release let him out of the bear hug I had him in then get the eggs out of the refrigerator for him.

While Frank finished cooking the bacon, then taking it out of the frying pan, I made toast in the toaster while he fried our eggs.  We fixed our plates and then sat down at the kitchen table to eat.  We were like two giddy lovesick kids again, talking and laughing, as we ate breakfast.

While Frank was in Vietnam, we had made get-away plans to go to my Grandfather’s farm, but those plans had to be changed because it was hunting season. Since many others could be there now to hunt or might show up at any time, we decided to start driving north in the Volkswagon without a plan and see where we would end up.

After we cleaned up the kitchen together, we showered, got dressed, and loaded our bags back into the Volkswagon, then off we headed to places unknown.  As we headed north, taking the back roads through lots of little towns and stopping to look at interesting things along the way,  we talked about everything.

At lunchtime, we stopped at a little grocery store, bought soft drinks, bread, lunchmeat, cheese slices, mayo, and chips.  When we came upon a small rest stop on the side of the road, we stopped.  We sat at the picnic table, making sandwiches, laughing, eating, and talking.  Once we finished eating, we cleaned up our mess, then headed back on the road again with “our-trip-to-anywhere-as-long-as-we-were-alone-and-together.”

When evening came, we stopped at a motel to spend the night.  We took our bags into our room then went back outside to sit on the grass behind the motel so we could watch the sunset.  I don’t remember the name of the town or the motel, but I remember that the motel set on a hill. The thing I do remember was sitting in front of Frank, leaning back against him with his arms wrapped around me as we sat there staring at the sky.  For the first time that day, we did not talk; we just sat there in silence, watching the sun go down.  I will never forget the peacefulness and feeling of love we shared in those quiet moments.

The next day after a trip to a store to buy donuts for breakfast, we headed out on the road again, stopping only for gasoline and another noon picnic.   As we traveled down the highway, we were making plans for our future, talking about all of our options until we came up with a fantastic idea, which was doable if we worked hard together.  As night fell, we ended up in Lubbock, Texas, where we stopped at another motel to spend the night.

Frank and I had a friend who lived in Lubbock that we had met in Okinawa.  He was one of the single GIs who would spend lots of time at our home.  We looked him up in the phonebook then gave him a call.  He was excited to hear from us.  We made plans to pick him up in the morning then drive to Palo Duro Canyon, located between Lubbock and Amarillo, Texas.

Picture of Palo Duro Canyon

Palo Duro Canyon

It is sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of Texas and is the second-largest Canyon in the nation.  We spent the day walking around in the canyon, and then we took our friend out to eat in a restaurant in Lubbock that evening before taking him home then returning to our motel room for the night.

The next morning Frank and I headed out on a different path, and the new direction was south.  We headed back to Van Vleck, but we would not travel south the same way we had gone north.  We saw no fun in that.  Texas is a vast state, so you can always find a different path to take.  Frank and I had made our plans for our future on our trip north, so our trip south would be one of looking at the scenery and more picnics.   We would also make a quick stop in College Station, Texas, to pick up some forms from the college.

Believe it or not, after five days on the road, we were ready to get home to our little white frame house in Van Vleck.  It was early December, and we had lots of people to see and things to do before Christmas.  Our last Christmas together had been one full of fear and trying to deal with the separation from each other that was ahead of us, but this Christmas would be one of thankfulness, clinging to each other, and celebration.  We could not wait to put up a tree, spend time with family, and celebrate together.

When we returned home, we visited with our families, and if asked what our plans for the future were, we told them of our thought out plans.  No one questioned our decisions. I think they knew that we were very firm in our choices, and we would not change our minds.

We had stopped in College Station on our way to Van Vleck to pick up a form for married student housing.  It would take at least a full semester for us to get approved and into married student housing.  Frank would attend Wharton County Junior College for the Spring semester of 1972 on the Gi Bill, which would pay for his books and tuition with some money left for living expenses.  We had saved quite a bit of cash while Frank was in Vietnam and knew we could live off of it for a while.   Knowing how to cut back and spend very little money had been part of our life together since the day we married.  Early on in our marriage, we had made some costly mistakes, and these mistakes were still fresh in our memories.

Frank did not want me to work, and we argued about that in private, but he would only agree to me substituting at the schools in Van Vleck.   Before Frank registered with Wharton County Junior College and arranged his schedule, he made a trip to Phillips 66 Refinery in Old Ocean, Texas, to apply for a job. Still, they were not interested in hiring a Vietnam Veteran even though Frank had family that worked in the plant.  Having served a year in the unpopular Vietnam War/Conflict made it hard for soldiers returning home to get a job because of the unfair baggage that the war attached to them.

Wharton County Junior College was a thirty-mile trip one way from Van Vleck so, Frank would need the car to drive back and forth to school most days, but he could also catch a school bus in Bay City, which was provided by the college. Since we lived only a couple of blocks from the Van Vleck schools, I could walk to substitute teach.  On days that I needed the car, we decided I would take Frank to Bay City, which was six miles from Van Vleck so he could catch the bus.  The problem with Frank riding the bus was that it only ran once a day to Wharton in the morning and once a day to Bay City in the afternoon.  Depending on his schedule, it could be that he would have to sit and wait for a class to begin or wait for the bus to arrive in the afternoon to take him back to Bay City.

Christmas time was so beautiful.  We bought a live tree, decorated it with lights, ornaments, and icicles. We cooked together, making fudge and cookies. We went shopping with our folks, and we went to Christmas parties at Uncle and Aunt’s homes. We spent many nights lying with pillows and a blanket on the living room rug, listening to our Reel to Reel and holding each other tightly, sometimes actually sleeping there all night.  Frank and I would not have gifts under the tree for each other that year because we had decided that we already had the best gift we could ever receive from God, and that gift was, we were together again.

Christmas Eve, we spent with Frank’s folks, then at the stroke of midnight, we drove six hours straight to get to my Grandmother’s home in Hico, Texas, to celebrate Christmas Day with my folks.  This drive would be our first all-night drive to celebrate with both our families, but it would not be the last.  We would do this exact thing every Christmas, only alternating which day we would spend with our folks.  We enjoyed the drive together and looked forward to it each year.

Frank and I rang in the New Year together, and it was extra special for us.  January had always been the month when Frank would be telling me goodbye at the airport in Houston but not in 1972 or any other year for the rest of our lives together.  The next time Frank and I would go to the airport would be to fly together to Oklahoma City on a company business trip, probably fifteen years later.

Frank enrolled at Wharton County Junior College and looked for weekend work, while I substituted at Van Vleck Schools. Soon, Frank got a parttime job working Saturdays only with a flying service located right outside of Wharton. At night I helped Frank with his college Algebra, which he had decided was some foreign language that had nothing to do with real adding, subtracting, and multiplying.  Math was just not Frank’s subject, but History, Health, Government, English, and Spanish were right up his alley.  Frank never forgot anything he read, and he read all the time, on the other hand, Nancy Lou was not gifted with that kind of memory unless she was interested in what she was learning, but numbers were her thing.

Now, we had a routine going at our home in Van Vleck, and we loved every minute of it.  When the Spring Semester was over, the flying service offered Frank a full-time job for the summer, which was awesome.  Frank had decided not to take Summer Semester classes at the Wharton County Junior College to save his GI Bill because he had been approved and accepted for the Fall Semester at Texas A&M.  Also, our married student housing was approved, and we would be able to move into our apartment right before the Fall Semester began.  We were so excited.  Our plans were happening just the way we had dreamed they would.

During the Summer of 1972, we took many trips to the beach on Frank’s day off, had friends over for Supper, and spent time with our families.

We had looked into adoption, but we did not have enough money, and it took a long time to adopt a child, so we decided to wait, save as much money as we could, and see what might happen naturally.  We knew that God would decide when we would have a child whether or not it was through adoption or naturally.  God had never failed us in any way at any time.

In late August of 1972, Frank and I loaded up a U-Haul Truck we had rented and was sitting in front of our little white frame home in Van Vleck, Texas.  When we had loaded all of our belongings and furniture inside the truck, we walked hand in hand to the landlord’s home next door to turn in the keys to the house.

Frank got into the truck to drive it to College Station, and I followed him driving our Volkswagon.  As we drove away from that little white frame home, tears ran down my face.  That home had seen many tears, worry, and heartache, but also extreme happiness and true love.  It was the first house that we had lived in together in the states as a married couple, and we knew that we would never forget it.

Not long ago, I drove to Van Vleck to see that little white frame house, but it was not there.  It made me sad until I found out that it is still in Van Vleck.  The house had been bought and moved to the other side of town, so I made another trip to see it.  As I stopped on the road in front of the home, and I mentally walked through it. I could visualize every detail of the inside of the house.  I did not get out of my car and go to the door because I wanted to remember it just as it was so long ago.

As Frank and I pulled into College Station about lunchtime that hot August day, we were ready to get the key to our apartment, unpack our belongings then begin our new exciting journey as Aggies at Texas A&M.  We could not imagine what amazing things we would encounter in College Station.  God had big plans and surprises for us.

<<<Beginning of the first Book | Book Four, Chapter One>>>>









Visits: 296


  1. Another brilliant slice of Reality. I encourage younger people to read the words and between the lines. True Love and Commitment are fabulous Life experiences.
    And many have forgotten this:
    “Having served a year in the unpopular Vietnam War/Conflict made it hard for soldiers returning home to get a job because of the unfair baggage that the war attached to them.”
    Thank you, Nancy for sharing with us your story

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Chuck. Thank you for remembering the plight of the Vietnam Soldiers returning from war and the difficulties they faced trying to get a job. It was such a very unpopular war fought by so many young men, many who were drafted not having a choice and others who join because they wanted to serve their country but then to find out they were basically thrown out with the dishwater to fend for themselves in a foreign land to only come home to so much disrespect for their service.
      God Bless you,

    • Hi Nancy,
      In 1972, I was 12. I do remember the Vietnam War. My cousins on my father’s side had POW and MIA stickers of servicemen. This is my default memory. I read earlier excerpts between Frank and you, and how the year before he was longing to be with you. So glad you got to be together.
      We share a slice of Texas. I lived in San Antonio for 8 years. I am so familiar with College Station and Texas A & M as I had many friends who attended the Aggie college. Really enjoyed reading about your first days together as husband and wife. Thanks for sharing your story and love.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting Amy. We loved Texas A&M. We were actually there when they opened up enrollment to women which made the number of students enrolling nearly doubled every semester for a while. We had so many fun experiences there and I can’t wait to write about them in chapters to come.
      God Bless you, Amy.
      Love Nancy

  2. Wow! Another great read, Nancy. You make your story come alive. (Just corrected a typo but not sure that I shouldn’t have left it–Instead of “alive” I started to type “alove”.) I can relate to your preference of using the back roads and different routes there and back. If there are several ways for me to get somewhere, I’ll find them and eventually use them all it it’s a place I go to often. It is so much pleasanter and peaceful. The scenery is much better than on the major highways and, of course, the traffic is much less and sometimes almost non-existent. Once again, your love for each other shines brightly through your story. Thanks for sharing. God bless you.

    • Thank you so much, Diane. I am now back to writing fun stories without any more letters to share but I feel Frank surround me as I type. I am so glad your computer is up and running. I can’t wait to read more of your blogs.
      God Bless You, Diane.
      I Love You,

  3. I’m still trying to play catch-up and it was good to read your blog again. Love you, too. God bless.

    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting. Catching up is hard sometimes.
      I love you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.