I saw the banner on the front page -- the photo of a yellowed telegram -- & whimpered a soft, "Oh nooooo."
Over the past few months, the Globe has been running a series called, "Dear Sweetheart: Letters home from a soldier" -- a wonderful collection of letters home during the Second World War, written by a Toronto soldier named David K. Hazzard to his wife, Audrey, & two daughters, Anne & Karen. Every letter began "Dear Sweetheart;" every one ended, "P.S. I love you." David wrote vivid descriptions of training camp, life in England, and then being sent to France as part of the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Saturday's story was the end. David was killed shortly after he arrived in France on July 5, 1944.
I don't know why I -- who should know better than anyone that stories don't always have a happy ending -- was so shocked. Somehow, I just assumed he made it back home & lived to a ripe old age.
Along with his final letter, there was a feature story, an epilogue, with photos, about what happened to David's family, titled, "'He never left my mother. Ever. Ever.'" Audrey lived to be 90 & died in 2004. Anne & Karen, now in their 70s, recently made the trip to France to scatter some of their mother's ashes on their father's grave, with a Globe photographer present. As far as they can recall, she only went on two dates after their father's death, and only many years later. "She said, ‘If you have found the best, why bother?” Karen remembers."
My loss was so very different from Audrey's. But boy, can I can relate. What a perfect description.
“She made a good life,” says Anne, on a July afternoon, poring over old pictures with her sister in the basement of her Pickering home.
“It just wasn't the life she wanted,” Karen adds.
It's a sad, but wonderful story. Go read it.