Friday, January 29, 2016

Love Heals

Lewis Parker Cardiff

Love stories are not as unique as we like to believe. 

Of course, when I was falling in love with my future husband, it was the love of the century.  The stuff of books, legends, and movies-- that was what we had.

It is only now in the present that I find myself looking back at the grand love affairs that led to my existence.  In looking at my mother and father, their respective parents, and back for generations, one will find a man and woman whose eyes spoke of longing and desire.  Then they fell in love.

My mother’s parents were Lewis and Marie Cardiff.  Their love was always clear to me in the way he patted her behind as she walked by him, even when they were in their senior years.  It was the way she giggled when he did that, blushing a little.  They held hands at the table.  Love.

This is the photo taken of my grandfather before he left for France.

They met near Grandpa’s childhood home, right after WW1.

Grandpa had experienced the worst of the war, the most horrible carnage, unimaginable to those at home.  As a skilled hunter and sharp shooter, Grandpa Cardiff (his father called him "Sam"), and another farmer like himself were assigned to scout behind enemy lines.

They were on the run, sleeping in barns and ditches, and making their way back to deliver information about the enemy troops.

The things he saw, the things he had to do scarred him forever.

 Shortly before he died, Grandpa told my brother some of those things.  Horrible things he witnessed the Germans, taking a baby, bayoneting it. and tossing up to be speared by another soldier.

The major battles, Saint Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne, were and forever would be etched into his mind.**

He returned home a battered soul who just wanted peace.  He got a job collecting milk for the local dairy company.  Along long stretches of quiet green pastures, Grandpa guided the horse-pulled wagon, and collected the milk cans that farmers set out for him early in the morning.
Caroline Marie Shive with her mother and Aunt Daisy.  Wearing a new dress ,. Graduation from 8th grade?  Leaving home to be a home helper for a cousin.  Twist of fate.
A young woman had observed that lonely journey day after day.  Working as a serving girl for a large farm family far from her own parents, Marie was homesick and watched the world go by from the kitchen window.

Barely 18 then, Grandma decided that she needed to be on that road just when he went by.  They waved at each other for days.  Then he stopped and talked for a few minutes. 

Over a period of weeks, they learned about each other through the spoken and unspoken language of love, always respectfully.  Lewis was, after all, ten years older than Marie.  One evening after supper, Grandpa showed up at the house where Grandma was a serving girl.  She went out onto the porch behind the kitchen where he waited, hat in hand. 

He scooped her up in his arms, their eyes meeting.  Grandpa said, “Marie, I want you to be my girl forever.”

My grandfather was a farmer before and after WW1.  He suffered lung damage from the toxic gas used in war.

That was it.  The next day or so, Grandma packed up and went off with Grandpa.  They were married in a simple straight-forward ceremony.  Grandpa had $100 from his army discharge.  With it, they bought a bed, a plow, and a sewing machine.

This was Grandpa and Grandma Cardiff's home.  

A love affair to remember?  Like Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr?  You betcha.  As for the other side of the family, my father's family, you will have to return to learn about them about them.

Lewis Parker Cardiff   Lewis Parker Cardiff
** How did I know all of this?  I was 12 years old, had an excellent memory, and eavesdropped in the bedroom, while this story unfolded in the words of a man who needed to tell this to another human being.


Marty Damon said...

How wonderful to know about the beginnings of our people, before they were just ancestors.

Melanie Schulz said...

I LOVE this story--especially the bum patting part.

Rick Watson said...

Beautifully written stories Susan. I love old pictures.

Zan Marie said...

What a wonderful love story and deep truth you've shared, Susan!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

What a wonderful story! Brought tears to my eyes. I would listen to more if I could. Thanks for this, Susan.

alexia said...

Great story! The romance part at least, sorry he had to go through such horrific stuff in the war. Human beings can do such awful things sometimes, it's shocking.

Deniz Bevan said...

Aww, such a sweet story. How lovely that you got to know so many of the details from the past.