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The Longest Wait by Robert Kurson, Part 9, The Call

Randy answered on the fourth ring.  “This is a voice from your past,” Jacquelyn said.

“Brown Eyes?”  Randy asked.

Jacquelyn said, “That’s right.”   She started crying.  “I don’t know what to say,” Jacquelyn said.  “This is overwhelming, Randy.”

He asked her about her life and learned she had been divorced for 14 years.  “You’re free?” he asked.

“I’m free as the birds,” she replied.

And Randy told her he thought that was a miracle.

Jacquelyn and Randy reviewed the milestones of their lives and the conversation was as intuitive and rhythmical as the night they had watched the moon from the gazebo at the Edgewater Gulf Hotel.  After almost an hour, they were exhausted and Randy asked Jacquelyn if he could call her at 2 p.m. the following Saturday.  Jacquelyn said, “Promise me, now, Randy,” and he said, “I promise.”  Then Jacquelyn said, “I love you, Randy,” and she hung up the phone.

The next weeks were wallpapered with phone calls.  At first, Jacquelyn and Randy spoke perhaps once a day for a couple of hours, but before long they were talking several times daily for hours on end, sometimes late into the night.  She told him of her life and marriage, her children, of how devastated she had been by his letter, how she had never stopped loving him.  He told her of years of rehabilitating from war injuries, learning to live in a world with out light, his subsequent life in letters, his wife and children and that he’d never forgotten her.   Randy asked if he could come visit in Montgomery.  “Listen, I’m not that slip of a girl you used to know,” Jacquelyn warned.  “I’ve had 3 babies and you don’t get over that much.”  Randy said he didn’t care.  He asked Jacquelyn if he might bring along Rocco, his Seeing Eye dog.  Then he told Jacquelyn to pick out a ring.

Jacquelyn could barely contain herself before Randy’s arrival.  She resolved not to tell anyone about Randy, then instantly broke her promise when family and friends demanded explanations for her perpetual grin and schoolgirl gait.  “Yes, it’s the man I used to tell you about- that’s the one!” she told people.  While Randy prepared to travel from Carbondale to Montgomery, Jacquelyn listened to a series of audiotapes she had asked him to record, thoughts on his life and times.  Even after 50 years, as his voice came to life on the tapes, she thought, “This man is still the man I loved.”

He greeted her on the tapes,

Dear Brown Eyes, 

I’ve been thinking about us all day.  I’ve scarcely thought of anything else the last month and a half.  

When I really thought about finding you, I had no idea where to begin.  And even if I found you, I rather expected a genteel lady who would only be casually interested in my call.  I knew you’d remember me, but the most I could hope for was a casual memory.

Then you were on the telephone, it was real, it was you, and you said, “I love you,” and my world changed.  I could scarcely believe that was happening to me.  It seemed like years vanished and there we were again, young and in love.  And that’s what we have for the future, whatever the future may hold.  Our love that was unfilled.

Your voice on the phone is so wonderful to hear and when you say, “I love you,” my heart melts.  Human emotion is a very mysterious thing – and how this love could have come back is part of that mystery.  But it’s here; I heard you say, “Darling, I love you.”  So remember, wherever we go from here and what ever we do, you are my last love.

I’tt tell you what the problem was, if you’ll forgive my language for a moment – I’ve always been too goddammed responsible.  And I wouldn’t have taken you away without the resources to take care of you.  

I just remember you, my Brown Eyes.  You may not think so, but you were young and beautiful and you were so dear to me.

Keep loving me and I’ll be happy.  ‘Bye sweetheart.

Jacquelyn arrived early at the Montgomery airport.

To be continued.