12 August 2009

my nana

Sunday night my Nana passed away from Alzheimer's disease, her funeral was yesterday. She was an amazing lady who kept me during the day until I started kindergarten, so I have a lot of memories of her. Here are some great pictures of her. Below is the story she would tell our family most. I shared it yesterday at her funeral in a eulogy that my sister wrote.

I had been in the Women’s Auxiliary Air force (WAAF) for five years. I was stationed outside of North London. One of the most popular places to go in the service when we were off duty was the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden. It had been transformed into a beautiful place to dance and to meet new friends from all over the world. One night, I was there with two friends. I didn’t go dancing every week and I never went alone. The one thing that was unusual about this certain night was that it was the first time in four years that I had not worn my uniform. The reason for this was my friend, Iris, who lived in South London, persuaded me to wear a borrowed blouse and a plain brown skirt. I had felt uncomfortable wearing someone else’s clothes, but Iris wanted me to, so I did. I decided to go to Covent Gardens just to hear the dance music. I loved the orchestra that was at the Gardens. I was a big fan of Glenn Miller and the music was as close as it could be. After I had been there a while, both of my friends had left me to dance with handsome American soldiers and I was left alone to enjoy the festivities. There was a tap on my shoulder, I had no idea it was coming and probably would have seen him if I wasn’t watching the dancing. I turned around and there stood a very tall American with a nice smile on his face, who asked me if I would like to dance and of course the answer was yes, I wasn’t one to turn down a tall dancer myself being 5’8”. It didn’t take long after we hit the dance floor that I discovered that he didn’t know how to dance after all. His name was Husley Reynaud and he suggested we go sit down and listen to the music and he apologized for not being able to dance. He began to tell me how his company had just returned from North Africa on account of his sunburn, which he definitely didn’t get in England; they had a secret bombing mission to destroy a dam in Yugoslavia. They didn’t attempt to get back on the dance floor and instead they sat and talked the rest of the evening. At the end of the night, he told me he wanted for us to exchange addresses. I liked him, he was tall, the quiet type, not flirty or clever acting; I could tell that he was trustworthy.

Husley and I were in agreement that we would make the effort to see each other once a month. This went on for a year and then in 1945, the invasion was a success and the war was almost over. On May 8, 1945 the war ended and we were together that day in London and had a great privilege of watching the victory precision from Buckingham Palace to St. Paul’s Cathedral. We saw the King and Queen, Princess Elizabeth and Margaret, along with Winston Churchill and other great leaders of the war. A couple days after the big event, I returned to my base and Husley to his base. Within a week, I received an urgent message from him telling me that he was being returned to the United States and by July he was home safe in Louisiana. I wasn’t discharged the W.A.A.F. until November of 1945. We kept writing to each other and it was eighteen months later that I made the biggest decision of my life; to purchase a ticket to the ship Queen Mary II and make the voyage across the Atlantic to New York City and from there took a train down to Alexandria, Louisiana. It had been a long time since we had seen each other, but the very day I arrived they were married in his living room by one of his brothers who was a Baptist minister.

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