The American War Bride Experience

GI Brides of World War II

Mingle Tears

(An Immigrant’s Farewell)
By Lilah M. Contine

On a fold tide, the ship slipped her moorings as a relentless sea carried her to where the Channel lifted her to it rim, the bow pointing to the Atlantic and its true course. For the young woman who clung to the rail with the heaving deck under her fee, the good-byes had not been so difficult.

For adventure called the tune and danced with her along the edge of danger and into the unknown. True to her heritage, she loved the sea and all that it offered, be it storm or calm.

The gale was full force as they entered the Channel. With her mouth wide open the woman screamed her delight and laughter spun away upon the air, towards the last sight of land that but lately was her island home.

She looked to where the lights strung out along the coast were fast fading. Suddenly, like the storm, the tremendous impact of it all struck her that she would never again find refuge in that cottage she had called home. Nor would she ever again be among the only people she had ever known as family. Those some people that had taken her in as a small child and had been good to her for all of the fifteen years that they raised her. They could not have loved her more if she had been truly of their own blood. Maybe she had been loved even more.

She had not lived with them these last five years. She was away in the Women’s Land Army doing her bit in the war. Each time she came to visit she regaled them with stories of her latest boyfriend, which they appeared to enjoy. She never noticed that anxious looks or heard the tremulous tones in their voices when they asked where did her latest “fellow” come from? She found out later that for them, it always seemed farther and farther away.

Her first boyfriend had been the boy from the mainland; which in their mind was comfortable enough. But he, was followed by a boy from the Isle of Man; then another from Norway. Then it was one from Canada and finally, the one she was to marry; the young Deep Sea Dover, who came from American.

And, not just America, for when a map was brought out and poured over it was the heart of the vast country where she was going to live. It was thousands of miles away from any coast, so it seemed. Their child, for all intents and purposes, was going to the other side of the world.

Oh, how they wished (they had hold one another) it had been the lad from the mainland! Then they could have followed her life and seen the grandchildren that she, in all probability, would have given them. But there were brave. They kept their sorrow quiet.

As the ship plowed on midst gigantic waves, she willed her mind across the watery miles to where her family lived. She picked out (one cottage among many) now with windows lit after six long years of enforced blackouts.

There was every possibility that her parents had earlier gone to the cliff tops to charter the course of this huge ocean liner. It had been converted into a troopship during the war. They would have been able to see it on its way off shore towards the tip of the Isle-of-Wight. And because the war was now over, they could have seen it fully ablaze with lights. And as it faded into the horizon, they would know that is was carrying her out of their lives… forever!

She knew with absolute certainty that after the ship passed out of their line of vision, they would be chilled to the bone and by now they would be crouched before their small fire in the cozy living room. Maybe at this very moment!

She could almost transport herself into that place where the two old people sat with head in hands. Tears that had been so bravely kept at bay that morning, when they had said their good-byes to her, now surely would be streaming down their cheeks.

Turning her head towards the last sight of land, a sudden painful sob tore at her throat. Tears flooded her eyes; so heavily they fell that some of what she shed were born away by fierce winds, towards the land. To mingle, she hoped, in mutual sorrow with those she’d left behind

Ahead the dark Atlantic beckoned.

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© 2005 M. Thomas