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An Unusual Love Story

February 26, 2022

Another Way for week of February 18, 2022

An Unusual Love Story

How did the way your parents live influence you own path? What stories come to mind? Did they have a positive or negative impact?

Last week I shared the story of where my mother got my name—and the unusual spelling she used. Wouldn’t having a name like Mary been much easier? Maybe, but it wouldn’t have this inspiring story behind it.

The book where mother got my name.

Mom read a story Unspoken Love in a weekly magazine for youth back in the 1940s, Youth’s Christian Companion. It is actually the true story of a family whose son went off to fight in World War II kind of on a whim. Millard, the oldest son, had a difficult relationship with his father, and after yet another misfire of communication, ended up signing up for military service one day in a nearby town when an officer enticed him with all the advantages for Millard at age 18. He would be paid much more than what he earned by “working out” as was common in the ‘40s—young boys and girls hired out to neighboring farms or homes and receiving room and board free as part of their wages. They usually had to turn in part or all of their pay to their parents. In this case Millard at first was making $2.50 a week, which he turned in to his father. He, like many others, quit school after eighth grade.

Milliard truly felt unwanted by his father at his home for reasons which become obvious late in the novel. Christmas Carol Kauffman, an avid novelist of the time (and one of the few Mennonite female writers then) was told this story and given letters young Milliard had written home as he served in Europe, Africa, and Italy. She had also lived through the war and knew some of the history, but did additional research for the novel. Young Millard never had a girlfriend like most of his cohorts in the army, although he was infatuated with a young woman at home, Melodie Ann. She, too, admired him from afar, but knew that Millard had never become a Christian. Eventually he became a genuine Christian (and not just the foxhole kind) and was hoping to get home to begin a relationship with Melodie.

I won’t go into more detail here to spoil it for other readers, but I wish I had read this book before my own mother died last fall. I had a copy, but just never felt like digging into a World War II era book. Mom had often told me about the story appearing in a magazine from her church, and wished I could read it because it was where she got my name, Melodie Ann. She read it in serial form and didn’t know that years later the book was published in hardback. Several years ago I found a hardback version and bought one, but never got around to reading it. The ways that Millard’s family relationships changed, after his father finally decided to become an active Christian, are inspiring.

My mother and father also lived through WW II. As a conscientious objector, Dad worked in forestry, conservation projects, and in a mental hospital. He often told us stories from the mental hospital and emphasized that he would have volunteered to serve as a non-combatant in the army if he had been allowed to help both sides. Like thousands of other couples, they got married at the end of the war.

In the book, Melodie Ann Brooks was a girl with a sweet disposition, honest, helpful and beautiful. I cannot claim all of those attributes, especially the last one, although my husband claims it. But now I know that the ways my parents raised me—apart from my name—were life-forming. They guided me into a strong faith. They lived their love by example. I only hope a little of that rubbed off on me—and onto our own children.

Daddy reading the Bible in the small cabin he built for us near our pond. Ok, this is a posed photo for our Christmas card one year, but it was lived out every morning as our mother and father took turns reading scripture and a short devotional before we went to school. L to right: Linda, Terry, Dad, Nancy, yours truly, Mom.

May it be so in our families and communities.

***

P.S. I wrote this of course before the war in Ukraine broke out. I’m sad–my heart breaks–for all those suffering and stressed and shivering in fear and cold. The scenes on our screens are disturbing. I stay in prayer for a quick end and relative peace to return. The war depicted in Christmas Carol Kauffman’s book brought the terror and the suffering closer for me.

***

What are your thoughts? What do you remember from parents or grandparents speaking of World War II and U.S. involvement? Share prayers and hopes here if you wish.

***

You can find Kauffman’s book Unspoken Love at Amazon and other used booksellers online. Send comments or your stories to me at anotherwaymedia@yahoo.com or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of nine books. Another Way columns are posted at FindingHarmonyBlog.com a week after newspaper publication.  

3 Comments
  1. This is a lovely tribute to your family heritage, the origin of your sweet name, and to our views about warfare. As my memoir reflects, I remember male relatives referring to “Old Joe Stalin,” which they pronounced “Sta-leen,” a name especially odious as we observe Russia’s hostile takeover of Ukraine this week. Because loved ones there are affected, It’s all I can think about these days.

    • I think I remember people saying Stalin’s name like that. Thanks for sharing your burden here. The photo I’ve shared of our family reminds me that God is faithful and answers prayer and we hope somehow this ugly war can soon be resolved. It is indeed hard to think happy thoughts about anything.

  2. Yes, I’m old enough to remember Youth’s Christian Companion. 😀

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