THE MARINE'S WIDOW: I was sitting in the Air Force NCO barracks, in my own room, when I got a call from the Joint Base Commandant's office to report to the Executive Officer for an assignment for the day. I had just that day had my Tech Sgt's stripes sewn onto my uniforms and was feeling very good about things. But, with my new status and a profound shakeup proceeding in my immediate field, I was left without an ongoing assignment for the present.
So, I was on call for certain trivial duties about base until a regular one in my field or another one came available. The Major welcomed me into his office and congratulated me on my recent promotion. He had been one of the officials that had signed off on it, and I had at one time worked directly under him in the field.
So, he was feeling pretty good too, to see 'one of his own' moving up in the service. But, after he warmly welcomed me he handed over a short paper that described a short term assignment to help a young Marine widow on the base.
The Marines don't usually serve on an Air Force base, but in this case we had a specialized electronic training program that they utilized instead of having to produce one of their own, with the limited number of their members needing it. Since we were not Navy, they had very little to do with us, but were respectful in their on base interactions.
Probably grateful to just do their duty and not have to break up disagreements among the Navy folk. The assignment was for me to give some physical aid to a young Marine widow whose husband had just been lost in Afghanistan. He had just recently graduated from the on base specialized electronics course and been immediately sent overseas leaving behind an only six month long marriage.
And in the field he had been caught in an ambush and died on the spot. I had never met him, but by all accounts he was very honorable and able in his military manner.
And it was reported to me with the assignment, that he had deeply loved his new wife. Some things are just so sad in life, but I knew that I would do anything possible to aid this young widow in her struggle to adapt her life without her loved husband. I drove a Jeep over to the little house that she was sharing with two other wives with their husbands overseas.
I jumped out to move up to the front door and then quickly remembered the reason for my visit and the situation of this young woman. So, I then put on a more somber expression and knocked on the door. No doorbell in evidence.
A youngish woman came to the door, but she didn't resemble the picture that I had and when I announced my purpose in visiting, she called Magna out to take over my presence. When Magna appeared at the door, she had a very shy smile in evidence, but I could detect deep hurt behind it. "Mrs. Stanley, I am Tech Sgt Manson and I have been sent to aid you in any way that you need today.
How might I be of service to you?" "Well, Sergeant, You can help me load up the moving van that will appear shortly and then travel with me to my new home in town to unload it. I would rather have a serviceman handle my personal things than others.
No insult intended, but I am still feeling my loss very painfully and so having a military man about to help me is very much appreciated. Manny was very helpful around the house to me." And with that a cascade of tears threatened, but was cut off with a containing shrug of her shoulder.
I and she got the boxes finally filled and everything ready to load up. I was the usual kind of guy. Often 'Hot to Trot' with any available female, but in this case I contained myself to just a respectful admiration of her courage and brave demeanor under a recent terrible personal loss. I got her look for identification abilities, but not for any female attraction purposes.
She was just a young and grieving widow to me at that time. When the moving men came, we asked them to step aside and we would load up her goods, with them to observe and direct us to the best result. They just nodded and got out their coffee thermoses, presumably with coffee in them, and once in a while directed us to move something to a better place in the box of the truck.
When loaded up, she returned to the small cottage and hugged her two lady housemates, who still had their mates in combat and moved out to my assigned jeep for the trip to town and her new life. As we proceeded through the base and out the gate, she asked me to tell her a bit about myself.
So, I mentioned that I was twenty-five and was an eight year veteran. And that my promotion progress had been somewhat delayed due to earlier emotional maturity issues, but that I was now catching up with where I should be, since there never was any question about my working effectiveness. That I was single and never had had a serious girlfriend, but had dated a lot and very much enjoyed the ladies that I had met.
I did tell her about the sad story of Charlotte, the regal southern girl that I met in New Orleans and the sad for me ending of that. And that I was in the service for the long run. I had no inclination to move out into the civilian sector. I liked the people that I was serving with and the work that I did. She, probably in defense of having to hear any more of my story, told me that she was twenty-two, a widow of a couple of weeks, a marriage of only eight months (correction from mistyping on orders) and on to life separate from her military one for the present.
That she was getting plenty of financial aid from the service. She might never have to have a serious job again. But, would probably do so anyway as a legal secretary to keep busy and not sink into a pit of despair over her loss of her dear Manny. Since she was sitting right next to me in the Jeep, with that profession, I reached over to pat her on the arm, unconsciously and then worried that I had taken liberties with her and that she might be offended by it, but she wasn't and gave me a very brief smile in return.
We got to her house and in short order had her things moved in and situated in the correct rooms for her later stowing of them in their proper places.
The moving men were very gracious when they left and before I could go, I asked if there were any other ways that I could help her. Thinking that she would probably say no to a presumed effort to entangle her in my life. But, 'No,' the answer was, "Yes." And she proceeded to inform me that she still had some rights on base, including shopping there and that she would appreciate me gathering her up on Saturday early afternoons for her to do her shopping there.
And any other responsibilities that she might still have on base, too. I told her that I would be honored to do so for her. As I was still assigned to help her when she asked for it, I showed up on Saturday and noticed a small car in the driveway.
Since, I didn't know of anyone living with her, I surmised that it was hers. And when she came out, in a much calmer manner than in our first visit, she admitted that it was hers, but that she was just getting used to it and preferred anyway to be in a military vehicle on the base. Less explaining to do, she advised me. I nodded in agreement with that.
And drove her to the PX and helped her with her shopping and loading of the food and other groceries into the back of the Jeep. It was quite a load as she was still in the process of settling into her new home. On the way home, she revealed to me that she had already found a job in her field in town and was therefore going to stay in the vicinity. Also, that she had a couple of appointments on base the upcoming Wednesday about her legal rights as a war widow and an explanation of her financial rights in association with that.
She asked if I could drive her again, better to have a military driver on base she asserted and I again replied that I would be glad to do so. When we got to her house, I helped her unload all of her purchases and asked if she needed any help around the house.
She said not that day, but that there was a yard to mow and trim and mowers and trimmers were a mystery to her. So, I made an appointment to come and handle that the next day on Sunday to her grateful expression and then I was on the way.
When I got there the next day, she wasn't home and the car was gone. She had left a note on the door telling me that the shed was unlocked and the mower was there with a supply of fuel. Evidently, she had already been introduced to her next door neighbors, an elderly couple who came over to ask my business. I then showed them my military I.D. and the orders that I had on me to aid Magna in any way possible and the two of them advised me of their knowledge that I would be coming and then left me to my work.
I was just finishing up the trimming around the yard when she drove in all dressed up for church and after admiring the job I did around the outdoors, invited me in for lunch, which I readily accepted.
When she asked for my choice of beverage I replied that I drank nothing stronger than root beer and had a case with me, because few ladies that I met had any on hand upon my first visits to them. And so I went out to get the case and she poured some over ice in a frosted glass for my drinking pleasure.
And when I made a move to take the case back out, she asked me if I had a supply at my barracks, and I replied that I did. So she suggested that I leave that case with her for future visits. This was the first evidence that she might be thinking of me as more than a temporary military aid. And so it caused me to take in what I thought of her in a more serious mode. I am quirky about some things, like most people are, and one of them is that I don't date women heavier than HWP ones.
I don't prejudice my actions to them in any other way, but I am seriously not turned on by heavy women. And when I took in Magna's carriage, I couldn't help but notice that she was a bit overweight.
She did have shiny brown hair done up very stylishly, pretty brown expressive eyes, a lightly brown skin and a very affectionate manner about herself. So, I decided that I would give it a chance without building her up too much.
I sure didn't want to be the cause of any more heartache for her, and I deduced that I would cause additional sadness in her life, if I didn't even give it a chance. While we were having a fine lunch, she brought up the idea of us being friends beyond the military services that I was rendering her. I said that I would be honored, but had no desire to trample on the memory of an honorable fallen hero of her life.
She said that was not an issue, because Manny had loved her very much and with the danger of his profession in mind, he had instructed her to find another fine man to bless her life, like he had tried to do. And to not close herself up in grief. And she with a couple of tears said that she intended to follow that advice from such a fine man in her life.
And that she had never met another as fine as him until meeting me. I was flabbergasted at that assertion, because I had never viewed myself as anything but average. I was no hero and not unusually handsome, nor rich and would obviously never be so, either. I honestly couldn't see what she saw in me, since all that I had done for her was at the military's instruction.
When I bought this up to her, she understood that, but it was the manner of my services that impressed her the most. I sat back and thought that over, and granted myself that I am basically a happy person and glad to be of help to others. Probably the reason that the Major had assigned this to me. I then mentioned that I didn't want to be part of any backlash to her or me for taking on the widow of a fallen Marine hero. I was concerned that some of his mates might object to a replacement in her life, especially an Air Force one.
But, she just smiled and informed me that she had asked a couple of her husband's closest friends to check me out and they had reported back to her that I was a class fellow and eligible in their eyes to take up Manny's responsibilities to her.
I was stunned at that and considered it the finest thing that had ever been said to and about me. They had also said that they would break both of my legs if I ever hurt her, which caused us to both collapse in laughter. My assignment ran out a week after and we began to lightly date. Somehow she got the message about my concern about her excess weight and so she got a treadmill from the Base Exchange (PX), no less and began to use it in her home every day. Nothing was ever said between us about it, and I never treated her in any way to obviously give this attitude away.
But, I began to use it, too. Despite the fact that I was a young well-toned man already. Maybe that was the clue to her, she never said to me what it was. No, she didn't become a raving beauty with a model's figure.
She just became a more healthy woman, with a even sunnier attitude and an increased affectionate nature. And she could tell that I was very impressed and happy about it, too.
After a month of our dating, about three after her loss, it came to me that under normal situations that I would have had her in bed with me by this time. I was being way more patient for that than ever before. But, I just couldn't make myself do it. I was falling in love with her, like no other that I had ever met and I wanted everything between us to be perfect.
I think that she was chaffing a bit under that. She had no inclination for a 'Madonna' complex. She was a warmhearted and blooded woman and wanted what one of them deserved in life. So, after a day at the beach with me thoroughly impressed with her now toned up body, and elevated spirit to go with it, I asked her for us to be engaged, because I was due for an adjustment in my status again and it could leave me gone from her presence and by this time I wanted desperately to not lose her.
She said that she would think about it and let me know as soon as possible.
This put me on pins and needles as I awaited her answer to my dearest desire in life at the time. The next time that I saw her, his former mates had given their unqualified approval of the match.
They had been lightly observant of us together and totally were on board with us to marry. They even offered to be an unofficial honor guard at our wedding.
Which we took them up on. She was walked up to the altar by the Major and a military chaplain married us. Then she shut up her home off base and moved back on with me in a much larger cabin than she had before. When I got my new assignment orders, I was advised that I would be continuing on this base for up to the next six years and that I had already been approved to a promotion to Master Sgt.
as soon as the time in grade was sufficient at my current rank. And I was appointed to the on base Human Resources Department for my very approved handling of the Marine widow's case. The night of our wedding, I took her into my arms for the following intimacies for the first time in our relationship.
With her wide smile lit up and her tears of joy evident, we melded our bodies together in the purpose of our happiness and permanent relationship. Nine months later she had quit her off base job and delivered our first son.
We named him Manny William Stanley, the second; after one of the finest men that we had ever known. Manny's picture decorated his room and though he was my son, he was also Manny's in spirit. At his christening, there were a lot of grown and battle hardened Marines with tears in their eyes over this.
And when any of their number questioned about a Marine widow marrying an Air Force sergeant, they were set straight that I was very okay&hellip. for an Air Force type. Probably the greatest honor that I would ever get from a Marine.