The Longest Wait by Robert Kurson, Part 6, Burned Letters and Post Randy

Jacquelyn cried and squalled and called her mother, who told her that Randy was trying to say he still loves you thinks you are too young to cope with what life holds for him.  Jacquelyn could not stop crying.  Enoree said, Let’s call him.  Jacquelyn refused – the letter was emphatic and ladies in those days did not call men who had asked them not to call .  Jacquelyn would respect Randy’s wishes because she respected him.

And that was it.

A year after Randy’s letter arrived, Jacquelyn, then 21, married a hardworking, ambitious man 9 years her senior.  He was crazy about her.  For Jacquelyn’s part, the time seemed right since she intended to raise a family.  Before the wedding, she commissioned a headpiece made from a piece of Belgian lace Randy had sent her from the war.  Enoree told Jacquelyn, “I don’t think you ought to do that, sweetheart; it’s not proper.”

Jacquelyn had already burned Randy’s letters at her mother’s insistence.  Jacquelyn would not be swayed in the matter of the headpiece.  She wore it during her nuptials.

Her husband’s practice prospered during the marriage.  They had 3 children which completed and blessed her life immensely.  Every so often though, when she was reminiscing about college or the old days, she would show the framed photo of Randy to her children and tell them, “This is one of my old boyfriends.”  She never told them about the terse letter or the headpiece or that Randy still lived in her heart.  As for her husband, she never mentioned Randy to him at all.

As her marriage evolved, Jacquelyn thought of Randy constantly  Was he alive?  Did he find his way in life?  Did he remember her?  Was he happy?  She need only close her eyes and there they were, hugging, kissing and picnicking, talking about everything and doing nothing, dancing so perfectly even when he was blind.  Her married life was much like that of her neighbors – raising children, homemaking, carpooling, tennis matches, country club lunches.  The marriage ended in divorce in 1981 after 33 years of marriage.

Sometimes when she felt blue, Jacquelyn would reach into her bedroom closet and pull down that photograph and talk to Randy.  She would tell him that she loved him and that she wished he were still with her.  She would hold the frame with two hands and tell him the she wished she had done something different when he wrote that letter and she would ask what he would have done if she had come to him then.  Then she would ask him, Randy, are you all right?

At 55, Jacquelyn was not interested in trying out life with another man.  Instead, she devoted herself to volunteer work.  At a local college, she started working as a reader for a blind teacher.  Then she worked as a Gray Lady at a hospital, the same kind of volunteer nurse who had helped wounded soldiers during the war.  The other days, she played tennis and lunched with friends.

She never stopped thinking about Randy… never stopped talking to his picture.

As the 1980’s became the 1990’s, Jacquelyn became grayer and traded her tennis racket for a walking cane.  She began to accept the idea that Randy might be dead by now…that maybe he had been dead for a long time.  She never considered trying to find him.  He had been emphatic in his letter and ladies did not chase men.

Then in 1995, Jacquelyn’s phone rang  It was Randy’s brother, Jim, on the other end.