Home For Christmas Again

She told the story every year with a warm smile on her face.  Sometimes her eyes got a little bit misty.

“It was 1943, and the War was on, and your father was in the Navy, on a ship somewhere in the Pacific.  We never knew where he was.  Like all the other boys I knew, he was in danger every day.  We lived for the mail, we were terrified of unfamiliar visitors in uniform.  A telegram sent us into a panic.  And ‘I’ll be home for Christmas’ had just been recorded by Bing Crosby.  It was Number One on the Hit Parade.”

That’s how Mom started the story every time.

Of course I’ll Be Home For Christmas was Number One that year.  Everyone, or just about, was hoping that someone they loved would, in fact, be home for Christmas.  That all the boys would be home for good.  But all too many people were disappointed.  I doubt there were many dry eyes when that song came on the radio that year or for the next few.

Mom and Dad got engaged right around Pearl Harbor Day, but the War lengthened their courtship significantly because Dad enlisted shortly after the attack.  It was to be a long war, and a long engagement.  But Mom was in love with her handsome man.  But Dad was even more so.

Mom, Circa 1943

Mom, Circa 1943

 

My Dad was drop-dead gorgeous, and I have heard that in his single days, he was a bit of a ladies’ man.  Every girl in town, it seemed, had a crush on Dad.

Dad, Circa 1943

Dad, Circa 1943

 

In fact, my Aunt Sally once told me that she had been manning a booth at a church bizarre one Saturday in about 1995, when an elderly woman came up to talk to her.

“Are you Freddie E’s sister?” the woman asked Aunt Sal.

“Yes I am.  Do you know my brother?” Aunt Sal responded.

“I did,she sighed.  “I haven’t seen him since we graduated from high school in 1935.  Sixty years ago.  He was,” she stopped to think of just the right word, “… He was dream-my.”

“He still is,” Sally quipped.

One day not long after after Mom had passed, Dad and I were looking at some pictures I hadn’t seen before.

“Dad,” I told him with wonder looking at a particularly good shot, “You should have gone to Hollywood.  You’d have been a star.”

“Nah,” Dad said.  “Mom would never have gone with me.  And once the war was over, well, I wasn’t going anywhere else without her.”

Dad circa 1935

Dad circa 1935

Dad never quite got over feeling lucky that he had Mom.  And he never stopped loving her.

But back to Mom’s story.

“It was Christmas morning, 1943, and I went over to visit Dad’s mom and dad.  Grammy E’d had symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease for seven or eight years at that point.  She could still move around (she was later, when I knew her, almost completely paralyzed), but she could barely talk.”

Mom continued.  But your Dad’s mom was singing ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  Well, she was trying to sing it, any how. She kept repeating that one line, over and over again.  ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas.’  I thought she was crazy.”

“You see,” Mom would say, “Your father had somehow managed to get Christmas leave – he was coming home!  He wanted to surprise me and wouldn’t let anyone tell me he was coming.  He was expected any minute, and there I was, trying to leave.  But I couldn’t stay.  That song made me cry; Freddie was so far away, and in so much danger.  I couldn’t bear hearing it.”

So Mom left after a while, she had other people and her own family to see.  Later Dad caught up with her and they spent most of Christmas together.  Both of them always smiled at the memory.  Dad was home for Christmas that year, just like in the song.  It was a magical year for them both.

Mom was always touched by Dad’s surprise and by his mother’s loving gesture in fighting back the paralysis that was taking over her body to try to get her son’s girl to stay.  To sing when she could barely speak.

“I’ve always wished I’d stayed.”

We lost Mom on Easter of 1997, and Dad really never got over her passing.

The song and Mom’s story took on an even more poignant meaning in 2000.  Because on Christmas of that year, Dad joined Mom again for the holiday.  He went “home” to Mom for Christmas again, joining her in the afterlife.

Even through the sadness of losing Dad on Christmas, I always have to smile when I hear that song.  Because I can just see the warmth in Mom’s eyes now as she welcomed Dad home.  This time, I’m sure she was waiting for him with open arms.

***

I re-post this story every year, because it makes my heart feel a little bit merrier.

35 Comments

Filed under Adult Traumas, Christmas Stories, Cool people, Dad, Family, Heortophobia, Holidays, Humor, Love, Missing Folks, Mom, Mom Stories, Peace, Taking Care of Each Other

35 responses to “Home For Christmas Again

  1. You just made me cry 😭 What a beautiful love story. Thank you for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You post it every year. I read it every year. It always always touches my heart the same way it did the first time I read it. I consider reading this a Christmas Tradition now.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You did it. I’m crying. Beautiful story and beautiful parents. I love old black and white pictures. There’s nothing like’em. Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. And it makes me smile and tear up at the enduring steadiness of love each year. Love…the one thing we can count on in such troubled times. Thanks, Elyse

    Liked by 1 person

  5. That was a beautiful story about two very beautiful people. It was especially poignant to me, because my dad is in hospice. I went to see him today, well, technically, yesterday as of 10 minutes ago. It was my birthday, and I hoped he could say “Happy birthday” to me one last time, even though he is having a lot of trouble verbalizing. He did say it, and I got a birthday kiss on the cheek. He probably won’t remember it tomorrow, but I will remember it for a long time.

    I hope you will post this lovely story every year.

    By the way, you could have looked like either one of them, and you would have come out a winner.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh Nonnie, I’m so very sorry that he is in bad shape. But I am so glad he wished you a happy birthday — you will be ably to hold onto that for the rest of your life. It is a hard time of year to have sadness.

      My mother couldn’t speak after a stroke. But I know that when I last saw her and was saying good by, she said “I love you.” I don’t know quite how, but she did. And it means everything to me.

      Wishing you happy birthday (belated) seems odd. But I hope that you find strength in the love you feel.

      Big hugs, Nonnie.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for the birthday wishes, and once again, thank you for your beautiful story. I told you this morning at a few minutes after midnight how it was so poignant to me. It is ever moreso now, because my dad passed away in his sleep just hours after I had posted that comment. I thought he had a few more weeks left, but I guess he decided to exit on a high note. Thankfully, he had no pain, and he looked so peaceful when my sister and I saw him this morning. I put the gel I used to have to order for him online for his hair (being in your 90s doesn’t make you any less vain) and combed it so he would look nice. My sister and I sat with him for about an hour until they came to take him. We kissed him goodbye, and I thought to myself that I hope my beautiful niece would be there to greet my handsome dad with his neatly combed hair, just as your beautiful mom was there to greet your handsome father.

        i read your new post about your friend Ray, so I guess we will be exchanging condolences. I am so sorry for your loss. I know that Ray was a lot younger than my dad, and she did not go peacefully, so it is much more tragic. I hope she is at peace now.

        Much love to you, Elyse.

        Liked by 1 person

        • And much love to you, Nonnie and to your family. The only positive thing is that your dad was loved. We all go. But to go with one’s hair styled? That means you were loved.

          May your dad find peace. And may you soon learn to think of hi, with more smiles than tears.

          💔

          Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s easy to understand why holidays are such an emotional time for you. Sweet story. Thanks for sharing. 💘

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That is such a touching story. I love love! To hear you tell about how much your dad loved your mom, it brings tears to my eyes.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. what a beautiful story.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I enjoy hearing this story. Your Dad was very handsome but your mother was also a beauty!

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I thought I read this post already, and I was right. Just the same, tears fell .

    Liked by 2 people

  11. That’s a sweet post, Elyse. Your dad indeed was a handsome devil. Same age as mine, it would appear (class of 1935). Thanks for sharing. – Marty

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Oooops !’!!!
    Rephrase:
    I’m praying we DONT have another war like that..

    Noooo .. I really don’t !!!

    Liked by 3 people

  13. It is a really beautiful story about two people who were lucky enough to find each other and clever enough to cherish each other. I wish there were a lot more stories like this. Thank you s much for sharing

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Peter. I love how you phrased that — lucky enough to find each other and clever enough to cherish each other. Sums it up perfectly. I was terribly lucky to have them both.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. To me, this is a nice Christmas story to repeat. The best thing about Christmas, in my view, is when family and loved ones get together after not seeing each other for a while.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Wow 😳..
    so touching..
    and I’m praying we get another war like that…

    Merry Christmas 🎁

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I’m in tears. But they are the good kind.

    Liked by 1 person

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