Mom, memories, and the miles between

JCJ_Column_Published_Jun_10_2015Published in the Jersey County Journal
Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Over the last year, nearly 800 miles has been put between my mom and me. My mom, the single most important woman in my world, still resides in Jerseyville while I have made my way to another small town out in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia. And although my husband and I seriously want her to come join us, we haven’t been able to convince her…at least not yet.

So the number one priority on my bucket list has been to keep building memories with Mom until I can’t anymore, no matter what the distance.

One such memory I continue to build upon with her over all these miles is the shared viewing experience of the movie, “The Lost Valentine.” If you haven’t seen it and you don’t mind stories about lifelong love, loyalty, and patriotism, it’s worth a look. Maybe even more than one.

The storyline unfolds at the start of World War II. When the war calls, separating a young couple on their one-year wedding anniversary on Valentine’s Day 1944, Navy pilot Neil Thomas makes a promise that he isn’t sure he can keep to his expectant bride as he boards the train—to return safely to her.

A Western Union telegram later delivers the news that the Navy pilot has been declared missing in action. A young Caroline, holding the son his father never met, says to the messenger, “He’s not dead…I mean they don’t know. Missing isn’t dead. My husband’s not dead…missing is not dead.”

And over the next sixty years, Caroline Thomas (portrayed most excellently by Betty White) keeps the promise that she had made back to him when he was leaving; she waits each Valentine’s Day at the train station for him to come home to her.

Eventually a young television journalist (played by Jennifer Love Hewitt) gets the assignment to cover the story. In doing so, she helps bring Caroline’s lifelong love back home to her—on Valentine’s Day 2004—what would have been the couple’s 60th wedding anniversary.

For my mom, it brings back memories of her Uncle Bill, who also went missing in action in World War II. He was never found. She was close to her Uncle Bill, and has missed him ever since. It also reminds her of the love she shared with my stepdad for all their years together and what it’s like for her living without him now.

For me, having married the love for the rest of my life on Valentine’s Day a year ago, it makes me think of what it would be like to live without him. It also makes me think about what Mom must be experiencing now as she moves through the rest of her life without the love of her life to share her “everydays.”

Most of all, it reminds me that memories can continue to be made, even if there are hundreds of miles between them. Lifelong love is kept alive through those memories, despite the distance or the years.

Now if I could just convince Mom that we could make a lot more memories like that much more quickly if she just jumped in the van and came with us…