Did you know there are paramount romances that never win an academy award? Unsurpassed stories of undying love that never grace the NY times bestseller’s list? Why? Because they are lived.
The story of Dale and Cathy:
He stared down at the enlistment papers. A sober feeling weighted his soul.
“You don’t have to sign.” Frank placed a solid hand on his son’s shoulder. “You can graduate first. Get your diploma and then enter flight school.”
But Uncle Sam needed him. He never considered himself patriotic but the horrific dealings of the Nazis had to be stopped. Had to. And, there was the opportunity…to fly. The very thought made his fingers itch to clutch the stick grip of his own aircraft.
But what about her? She dreamed of him escorting her to the senior prom. Even had the dress. And boy would he miss seeing her in it. Did she understand? Did she know how important this was? Would she wait for him? A punch in the gut seemed more comfortable than the thought of Cathy Ripple on another man’s arm. He could lose her. He could lose his life. Was it worth it?
He heard his dear mother sniffle when he leaned over and signed—Dale E. Karger.
There. No going back now.
Cathy walked home from school in silence, leaving her classmates to giggle in her shadow. Just great. Being reprimanded today in Biology for not paying attention would irritate her parents. But how could she contemplate the anatomy of a frog when his letter was burning a hole in her pocket. More like burning a hole in her heart.
Her daily ritual consisted of storming the mailbox for any news of him and, yesterday, she squealed like a grammar school girl when she spied his correspondance under the Woolworth’s circular. She read it a hundred times over, memorizing passages, sighing over his endearments, wishing he were closer than five thousand miles away. She retrieved the letter from her sweater pocket and pressed it against her chest. This was as near as she could get to him.
Pride swelled when he wrote that he earned his wings, graduating in the first army training class. Before men had to go to college to receive officer status. She smiled. Now he’d be known as 1st Lieutenant Karger instead of the filling station kid. What stories he’ll have when he gets back. Oh, please come back, Dale.
Her insides tangled worse than her mother’s knitting yarn. Everyday, she heard of casualities on the radio news hour. Everyday, she read of gruesome attacks in the Post Gazzette. Everyday thousands died.
She hated it. Hot tears stung as she raced for her bedroom. Behind the closed door, she dropped to her knees, not caring if her new stockings tore. Lord, bring him home to me. She sat back on her heels, as the grief tore into her. What was her prayer compared to the millions pushed in His ear. Who was she that God Most High would listen? At once, she felt small. “Oh Lord, please…
She couldn’t finish for the sobs took over, drowning her feeble voice.
“She’s a beut.” Kenneth ran his hand across the metallic curves.
“Watch it, wingman.” Dale crouched on the right wing. “She’s my girl.” Dale could gawk all day. The sun joined in by bouncing its beams off the silver body. His own P51 Mustang. He couldn’t think of a happier past time than spraying bullet holes in the side of the Luftwaffe aircrafts. Yes, the Cathie Mae was going to do some damage.
“Still can’t believe you named your plane after a dame.” His wingman shook his head in disapproval.
“Not just any dame.” He tugged the collar of his leather flight jacket, shielding him from the whipping air. “When this war’s over, I’m going to marry her.” If their love withstood the trial of war then it would overcome the challenges of a lifetime.
And it did.
Here are some notes:
- The Cathie Mae did perform beautifully in combat. Dale shot down seven enemy planes, resulting in him gaining Ace status.
- He was the youngest Ace in his squadron and third youngest in the entire war.
- After a separation of three years, Dale and Cathy forfeited a huge wedding for an elopement.
Thanks for reading the story of Dale and Cathy. I was going to write this in narrative form, but this was more fun—To bring to life their memories. Love for each other flowed out of the love they had for Jesus. Their marriage lasted for over sixty years before Dale went to Heaven. Cathy followed not long after.
If you haven’t figured it out, I am their youngest grandchild. 🙂 Growing up, Poppy didn’t get into all the details of war-life, though, now I wish he had. This Valentine’s Day would have been his ninety-first birthday.
As for Grandma, she was always small framed, but goodness she was strong. She had a picture hanging in her house that read—Time spent kneeling, makes you stand. God’s faithfulness brought her sweetheart back and kept them together even into eternity.
So Poppy and Grandma, I know in heaven there are no blogs, but I dedicate this post to you. Thank you for showing me what undying love was through your example.
The picture below is how I remember them. (photo curtesy of Lisa Tice Photography)
Do you have an inspiration? Maybe someone who influenced your life for the better? Who showed you what real love meant? Share in a comment below or just say “HI!”