It took six decades, but they finally found each other again.
Love has caught a widow and widower in a tender trap of surprise. At 79 and 77 years of age they find themselves surrounded and supported by family, friends, and fond memories of successful marriages. Life is more comfortable than the World War II era of their youth. Their generation was fighting a war and both their families had economic challenges.
Donald Lee, of Greensboro, N.C., was 18 years old and stationed by the Naval Air Station in his hometown of Olathe, Kan. Betsy (Armstrong-Phillips) Warmington, of Independence, was 16 and working at a neighborhood diner.
He was taken back by her beautiful face, dark hair and sense of humor, but thought he was too poor to have a girlfriend. She liked his kindness and thought he was a really nice guy. They became sweet innocent sweethearts.
He would take her for rides on the handle bars of his friend’s bicycle. They played cards with her family. Just like kids today, they both liked comfortable clothes. They talked about getting married someday and having children that they would dress in dungarees and T-shirts. They spent as much time together as possible and he invited her to stand guard duty with him from 8 to 12 p.m. His comrades in arms brought sandwiches for them to eat, while they talked till midnight. Her mother would have killed both of them, if she had known.
They became separated when his unit moved out. He says he wrote, but her mother moved often or maybe family members thought that she was too young to become serious. She remained in the Kansas City area. He returned to his home state of North Carolina at the end of World War II. Whatever the reasons, their lives continued on without any contact for 60 years.
One day she was reminiscing with one of the circle of friends associated with her late husband. She mentioned the name of h
er long-lost friend and thought nothing more about it. Several days later she was visited again, and apparently some creative Internet or telephone searching had taken place because a call was made to North Carolina from her kitchen phone while she was out of the room. She was surprised a few days later to receive a return call with her caller ID showing a familiar name.
Out of curiosity she picked it up and had a conversation with someone who seemed to be the brother of her long lost friend. The caller talked about his brother and said that he had been a widower for seven years. She asked if his brother was available, but was told he was outside. He thought his brother was talking with a new girlfriend.
Several days passed while she contemplated the coincidence.
She had not considered looking for him and thought he was probably happily married as she had been. It had not occurred to her that a third-party reunion had been set in motion.
Eventually all the pieces of the puzzle fell in place and he called stating that he was looking for the girl that had held a place in his heart for 60 years. In some ways the last 60 years melted away and they were enjoying each other’s company as though they were teenagers. The telephone lines started to sizzle with the joyful chatter of long-lost friends. A reunion was planned, and coincidentally her brother and sister-in law offered to extend their scheduled driving trip to include North Carolina.
They were all pleased with the outcome. He and she found they still had a lot in common, including music. More visiting was encouraged by both sides of the family who liked what they saw. Her family noticed that she was looking prettier and her sense of humor was in full force. More telephone talks revealed that his former kindness was still alive and appealing.
With the congratulations and blessings of their families, they continued to visit and be amazed that they were only a few phone calls away.
If you are young at heart and can blend the past with the present in positive ways, love could show up when least expected.
Don’t Miss the Boat!
WEDDING VOWS WERE EXHANGED Oct. 17, 2008, in Kansas City.
Susan Armstrong Marinois a professional counselor in Waynesville, Mo. www.sharewhatworks.com