Our Hearts Are Broken

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Our Hearts Are Broken

After nearly two years of living together in Okinawa, late November 1970, Frank and I returned to Van Vleck, Texas.

We tried not to think about the short time we had left together but it was always in the back of our minds. In less than Forty-five days, Frank would fly back to Okinawa for two weeks then transfer to Vietnam.

Before leaving Okinawa, Frank and I had sat down and made plans for what we wanted to do when we got home. We wanted to have a place of our own where we could spend time alone together before he left for Vietnam.  It was also very important for us to have memories of living in this new home together and be able to picture each other there together.

Frank knew that I was a very private person when it came to displaying deep emotions.  He wanted me to have a place to go and be alone with my emotions privately. So Frank and I rented a little white house in Van Vleck.

Not having any furniture to furnish this new home, thanks to our parents, we quickly acquired some.  We were given a couch, a chair, and my antique bedroom set (you might remember this bed from another chapter).  Since the house was furnished with a stove and refrigerator, we did not have to buy those two appliances.  We had stored most of our things at Frank’s Folk’s home before we went to Okinawa, so we had everything else we needed.

Frank and I had decided in Okinawa that we would need a car and what kind of car we wanted to buy.  We bought a new Volkswagen Super Beetle in Freeport, Texas a few days after arriving home.  I was going to apply for a job and work while Frank was in Vietnam. We would need a vehicle to drive while Frank was on leave and for me to drive while he was in Vietnam.

After settling into our new home, Candy and Homer, our cats, finally arrived in Houston but had to be quarantined. Finally, Frank and I went to pick them up.  They had been quarantined for two weeks before we could get them and they were as happy to see us as we were to see them.  Our small family was finally all together again.

Christmas and all of the beauty of what it means came.  Frank and I bought a Christmas tree and decorated it with lights, ornaments, and silver colored icicles.  Candy and Homer did their best to climb the tree and bat off the ornaments but we didn’t mind.  We laid close to each other on a plush rug on the floor while listening to music on our Reel to Reel that we had shipped home before we left Okinawa.  All seemed peaceful in the world but the days were passing by way too quickly.

Christmas came and went then it was January of 1971.  Frank and I celebrated the New Year together but we knew that time was growing short until he would have to leave on a flight back to Okinawa.  There was so much we wanted and needed to say to each other and we talked a lot but not about how to say goodbye.  The thought of being separated from each other for a year without knowing what the future held for us was totally overwhelming and we just chose to not talk about it.

On January 7, 1971, Frank and I were driven to the Airport in Houston by family.  We rode together in the back seat of one of the cars.  We were lost in our own world, sitting as close to each other as we could, holding each other, saying “I love you”, staring into each other’s eyes, and trying to memorize each other’s faces.

Once we got to the terminal where Frank would load the plane for his flight, I can remember feeling weak in the knees and trembling. Frank checked in his duffle bag then we went to the gate where he would board his plane.  It was not long until his flight number was called and it was time for us to say goodbye before he would board his plane and my heart felt like it stopped.

Frank and I embraced each other tightly, looked into each other’s eyes while saying, “I love you.” then we kissed.  We tried to be strong for each other but nothing could have prepared us for our goodbye. After the second call came to load the plane, Frank released his arms from around me then walked toward the gate but turned around at the entrance to the tunnel to wave goodbye then saw me standing there in tears.

Frank had tears in his eyes as he quickly walked back to me, hugged me, kissed me as he wiped away my tears while telling me how much he loved me. My heart was breaking and I could not breathe much less speak but as Frank turned to walk back to the gate, I ran after him, embraced him telling him how much I loved him then we kissed one more time not wanting to ever end our embrace.

The gate person came to Frank and told him that he must load the plane, then he gently took Frank’s arm leading him away from me. I watched Frank walk down the tunnel then disappear as he loaded onto the plane.  One of our family members gently guided me away from the gate to the windows where I stood and watched Frank’s plane leave.

My mind kept thinking, “How can I survive if something happens to him? He is my heart and soul.”  Suddenly, while standing there watching his plane taxi down the runway and take flight, I stopped crying, felt a sudden warmth and a growing strength inside me, I realized God was standing by my side reassuring me and comforting me.

Once Frank’s plane was out of site, we all left the airport then headed back to Van Vleck. There was not a lot of talking in the car as we made our way back to Frank’s folk’s home.  Our car was left at their home, so I started to get in it to head to our little white house but they wanted me to come inside to visit and asked if I wanted to spend the night.  Since it was getting dark and I really did not want to go home alone to an empty house, I agreed to stay.

About midnight, Frank’s folk’s phone rang.  It was Frank calling from the Airport in Houston.  He had gotten off the plane in San Antonio, had flown back to Houston, and needed someone to come pick him up.  Frank’s Dad and I got into his folk’s car then headed to Houston to the airport. Frank was waiting outside the terminal by the drive-through drop off when we got there.  Once we stopped the car he put his duffle bag into the trunk, got into the car, and we headed back to Van Vleck.

After Frank got into the car and we were headed back to Van Vleck, I asked him,  “Frank, what happened?  What are you doing?”

Frank answered, “Nancy, I wasn’t ready to leave you yet, so I turned around and came back.”

When we got to Frank’s folk’s house, Frank and I got into our car then drove to our little white house.  We spent all night together talking, crying, praying, and just holding each other tightly then when morning came we returned to the airport in Houston.

Once Frank and I got to the gate to say goodbye, we were strong for each other, we smiled at each other, and gave each other the most beautiful goodbye without tears but with renewed hope in the strength and love that God had given us through our prayers.  We knew that being separated would never pull us apart because our true love for each other was inseparable.  We were of one heart and soul.

Frank was ten hours late getting back to Okinawa then to Torii Station but I’ll let him tell you about it.

January 8-9, 1971

Dear Nancy,

Well, I got into Naha at 9:00 a.m. this morning (8th).  By the time I got signed in it was 10:00 a.m. and I was 10 hours late.  But I got in no serious trouble.  It was a long flight as you well know.

Our friends invited me over for supper.  I’m now sitting at work and it’s 5:45 a.m. in the morning.  Tomorrow is my last working day.  My plane leaves for Saigon at 0950 (9:50 a.m.) on the 16th and I get there at 1640 (4:40 p.m.).

All I can think of is how much I miss you and love you.  But when I get to feeling too depressed, I think about a day about a year from now when we will meet in Oakland and never have to lose sight of one another again.  That makes me happy.  Very happy.  Think about it. I’m sure it’ll make you feel better also.

I’m going to have to close for now.  I’ll write a little more some other time.  Because I have to get to work or else I’m in trouble.  I just wanted you to know I arrived safely and how much I love and miss you. Say hi to everyone.

Sorry about my writing but I’m hurrying before the E-6 gets back.  See you soon and keep loving me as you always have.  I love you dearly.

Yours forever,

Frank

P.S.  372 DLITA  (Days Left In The Army)

Frank was struggling once getting back to Okinawa without me.  We had lived together there for nearly two years.  Our friends were trying to help him out with his loneliness but they lived right next door to the house Frank and I had lived in and moved from 45 days before.  I know that each time Frank saw the home we had shared in Okinawa it played on his heart.

The next letter was written on the back of the one above.

January 10, 1971,

Dear Nancy,

Hi again.  I hope this day finds you well and happy.  Well, I went red Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. (today). Everyone misses you and asks how you are.  I stay in the barracks all my time except to go to our friend’s house when they invite me. 

I’ve been to the club first time today at 8:00 a.m. after we got off work and ate breakfast (35 cents) and I haven’t had a beer yet.  So see there is no need to worry about me.

Nancy, you’re the only one in my life and I’m happy with the way things are.  I need no one else to comfort me or to think about me but you.  Why is it I finally find the one thing I’ve dreamed about and thought about and wanted all my life and have to leave it?  But when this year is up I’ll never leave it again. You’re the most IMPORTANT thing in my whole life. 

It feels good to have a love for someone like the love I have for you.  I pray for your safety and happiness and for the love we both share.  I remember my old graduation theme, “With God for us who can be against us”.  I close with that and all my love for as long as my body continues to breathe.

Your Loving Husband,

Frank

It took at least five days for a letter to get from the states to Okinawa.  So, a letter written to someone asking them a question would take at least ten days for you to get that answer.  Snail mail was slow but it was the only form of communication we had.  No email.  No Skype.  No cellphones. The only other choice we had was communication through shortwave radio operators which included a long distance call.  Of course, that would not be an option once Frank got to Vietnam.

January 12, 1971

Dearest Nancy,

Hello, my love.  Hello, my wife.  Hello, my lover.  I say hello to you.  I got your letter today and I believe it was the nicest thing that has happened to me this week.  You know how to say the right things to me.

You know I can’t visualize life without you.  Not the fact that I’m going to be away from you but the fact that I can’t remember what life was like without you before you came into my life and how life would be now without you.  After loving you and knowing you, life wouldn’t be worth living without you by my side.

People say God has a purpose for everyone and I sincerely believe my purpose is to love you and make a happy home for you and our children.  I want nothing more from life.  The world can have their ulcers, diseases, pollutions, money worries and societies.  I need none of these.  What I need is what I got, a good faithful loving wife who cares only for me.  What more could I want?  My cup runneth over.

I really feel I’m the luckiest person alive.  I’m dead serious.  Sometimes I believe my heart could burst with love for you.  I know you’re lonely but so am I.  But why should we be?  I have enough love in my heart for you that ought to carry me through a year.  How about you?

Hey beautiful, I love you.  Let’s each night say a prayer for each other and tell each other we love each other.  Nancy, we’re strong together.  Our love is too strong to ever fade and die.  I have to go now.  Just never forget that I love you so much and will also do so.

So goodnight for now and my God watch over you.  All my love for you and you alone.

Your Faithful Husband,

Frank

P.S. 368 DLITA

P.S.P.S. California here we come.

Frank had gotten his first letter from me and he was so happy.  Frank and I loved God as much as He loved us.  Vietnam would be the hardest thing that we would face together as a married couple but our true love for each other would only be strengthened by the very thing that tried to separate us.

Frank and I were only twenty-one years old but our true love for each other and our love for God would make us the strongest of love warriors even though we were separated by thousands of miles and an ocean.  Love like ours could not be separated.  We were of one heart and soul.

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6 Comments

  1. What can I say?
    Again, you have shared an example of LOVE we seem to be so devoid of today.
    If men would get off the concept of False Manhood (the Viagra Syndrome) and learn to be MEN our society would be stronger.

    • I totally agree with you Chuck. Nothing says more about a true man than his ability to shed tears from deep emotion and totally say what it is in his heart to a woman.
      God Bless You,Chuck. You have all of the best qualities of a true man.
      Nancy

  2. That is one powerful love story. The Lord was truly with you. But how do people go through times like that without God? I can’t imagine. And I can’t imagine how it felt to know you would be apart for a whole year. It sounds like an eternity and I imagine it must have felt like one. But the assurance of Frank’s deep love for you held a power of its own coupled with God’s love and made you both overcomers. You have built together an enduring and strong legacy for your son and his family. And I pray that these stories will inspire other couples to love with that same kind of love.

    • Thank you so much Diane. God was so important to Frank and I. We loved Him so much.
      That year would have been impossible for us without God’s help and the strength He gave us.
      We had become inseparable by as one heart and soul blessed by God.
      I will add three more letters from Okinawa tomorrow which will end the first book.
      God has a purpose for the writing and sharing of our love story and I pray I am honoring His wishes in every word I write.
      Thank you for reading and knowing how much Frank and I love each other which is an eternal love.
      God Bless You, Diane
      Nancy

  3. Chuck and Diane pretty much said it all…..so touching…..

    • Thank you for reading and understanding, Kim. That was a very hard day for us but with God’s help, we made it. The uncertainty about what our future together held was too much.
      God Bless You, Kim,
      Nancy

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