Have you ever had a “shouldn’t have gotten out of bed” day? I did, just recently—big time blahs.
And then I read a love story, the kind that makes you audibly sigh, dance a little and not feel silly.
Boy met girl in 1944, during World War II. KT Robbins was 24, an American serviceman stationed in France. Jeannine Ganaye was French and barely 18.
One day KT needed to have laundry done. Jeannine’s mother offered to help. And this was how they met, in her hometown of Briey, 75 years ago. They fell in love.
Soon after, Robbins was called to active duty at the Eastern Front. There was a quick and sad goodbye. He took a photograph of her with him. They both dreamed of a reunion. She tried to learn English to be ready for his return.
But they never saw each other again.
After the war, KT went back to the US and was married for 70 years to a wonderful woman.
“But this other thing was still in my heart,” he says. “And yet you know, when you get married, after that you can’t do it anymore.”
But they didn’t forget.
Seventy-five years later, Robbins now 97 and a widower, was interviewed by a French television station about maybe attending the 75th anniversary of the Allied Invasion of Normandy. D-Day.
He showed them the photograph he had kept in his wallet all those years. He asked if someone could maybe find her family, not imagining she could still be alive.
The journalists found Jeannine (Pierson) also widowed, living in a retirement home in a village close to where they first met.
Robbins was ecstatic when they told him: “We found her! She is alive and is waiting for you.”
When they spoke to Jeannine, now 92, she said: “I’ve always thought of him, thinking maybe he was out there, that maybe he’ll come. When he left in the truck, I cried and I was very sad. I wish that after the war he had not returned to America. Why did he not come back sooner? I wish he had come back.”
The Forever Young Veterans Group made it happen.
Their reunion was magical. They laughed and cried all at once; shyly at first, they embraced and kissed, and tightly held hands.
“This is the greatest day of my life,” Robbins told her.
“I always loved you. You never got out of my heart.”
When he went to celebrate D-Day, it was time once again to say goodbye. But the lovebirds are full of hope and have plans for the future.
For 75 years, both thought happiness had passed them by. Now they know that it is never too late for love.
Watch the ripples
A wise man once said, “Be careful of the ripples you make in someone else’s pond.”
We are too often unmindful of how we affect others, and we go about life as if we are the only ones that matter.
Lucila Takjerad’s valedictory speech at the recent Harvard English graduate commencement exercises gives us food for thought.
Born in Algeria in a home without running water, she and her sister learned to hide their hunger so as not to worry their parents. When she was seven, her country was plunged in a bloody civil war.
Then in 1994, Lucila’s life was completely changed by the gesture of a man “whom I never met, do not know, and can never thank.”
The French government was allowing some Algerians to find refuge from the war. All you had to do was to write your name on a list. Her mother wanted to sign up, but she was illiterate and just walked away.
A man noticed and ran after her. He got her name and wrote it down. Soon after, they immigrated to France.
Lucila wonders, why did that man run after her mother? That simple act of this stranger gave their family a new future.
“He will never know that from the small seeds of his goodness have grown fruits of prosperity for my family, myself and everyone whom we touch.”
Her speech moved me.
Let me share parts of her speech.
“You never know how these small gestures can affect people’s lives. But I can tell you, they do.
“Do the most you can do. Your education and legacy demand it.
“But also do the least you can do. Because the least you can do might turn out to be the most significant.
“To that gentleman in Algeria, I say thank you. God bless you.
“And to each of you today, I ask: What is the least you can do, now, to make the world around you a little better?”