The homecoming of people who we haven’t seen for long lead to a tear-jerking moment. We do not feel much different since the pandemic and lockdown blocked our roads to meet our people at a distance. Here’s an emotional war story- The Best Homecoming, that celebrates the love of Betty and Harry, separated by war.
The Best Homecoming
An Emotional War Story
The war was on when Betty Parkinson moved to the suburbs of Liverpool with her in-laws and two children. Their home in London was ravaged and shattered by the pounding of German warbirds. They had no other options but to leave with their belongings and run to a place less likely to fall under enemy raids. And the new place was perfect. It took them plenty of time to adjust to the new but pleasant environment and the unfamiliar Irish accent of the Liverpudlians. However, the Irish accent wasn’t a problem at all!
The real worry for the Parkinsons was Harry’s absence. The youngest but only son who stayed to take care of them and later joined the Royal Air Force (now a Sergeant). He was on duty far away from home at the war front, unaware that his lovely abode stood torn apart, and his family had moved to a new place. In a hurry, they forgot to write to him about their decision to move from the city of London. “Will he ever come back from the blazing and burning war front? If he does, how is he going to find us all?” They wondered.
Betty would take good care of the old couple and would reinforce their hopes at times but she herself was desperate. She was a part of WAAF (Women’s Auxiliary Air Force) but she hung her uniform soon after she married Harry. Betty kept Harry’s letters in a tin box. It was only Harry’s regular letters that would tell his family that he is still not devoured by the War God’s insatiable appetite. But that too had stopped since the devastation of their home in London.
The new city was quite pleasant; bright green meadows under the sunny sky, white clusters of clouds like cotton candy scattered over blue canvas. Sometimes the humming of warplanes would fill their hearts with anxiousness but there was nothing around their place to tempt any aerial raider. It was just that the enemy or friendly planes that passed over. There was literally no threat to them.
Betty first met Harry on a train to London. At first, she was greatly impressed by him which sparked conversations between them. They talked about the war, the regimen, their flights, the politics, and of course the force but as soon as the question of worthiness and toughness of women soldiers came, their contrasting opinions failed to resonate. Since Betty was a feminist, she believed the WAAF girls would outperform RAF blokes. Harry didn’t agree to this. This shocked Betty a little and she faltered as she felt uneasy. She just wanted to hit him with counter-arguments but realized that proving it at some point in the future would be rather impactful.
With the awful end of their first meeting they weren’t expected to meet again but look at God’s miracle! They did. The second meeting was quite a pleasing experience for both and it was slightly apologetic too. They met several times thereafter. At the eleventh meeting, it was obvious that they were in love and couldn’t live without each other. They tied the matrimonial knot thus welcoming a myriad of good wishes and heavenly blessings. Soon after Betty quit WAAF and dedicated herself to the service of the old Parkinsons (Harry’s mum & dad). And Harry left for the eastern front after his stint.
Ever since they moved and Harry’s letters stopped reaching them, Betty would take out any one of the old letters sent by Harry addressed to her and would read them out in solitude. Yes! Harry wrote private letters to her too as there were things he would say to Betty that he couldn’t share with other family members. She believed he will be back someday and they will lead a normal and happy life. Betty remembered how she and Harry often joked about who will miss who the most and that the day he returned would indeed be the best homecoming.
A year passed without any sign of his wellbeing. Betty would visit the war office in London regularly only to seek disappointment as the officials would reiterate “Information not found, inconvenience caused is deeply regretted”. But she would hold on. She didn’t let go.
On Harry’s birthday, the twenty-fourth of September, she forced the old couple to put on their best clothes and prepared the best meal for them. She wore an olive green gown which Harry gifted to her on their first marriage anniversary. He loved to watch and admire her in that gown. She believed that he might drop down on his special day to surprise all of them. She expected Harry to return that night, see her dressed in that gown and hold her in his arms again. It didn’t happen!
Yes, that night of loneliness and sorrow would crumble the mightiest of all hearts but her faith in God and her conviction was strong. Another year came round the corner and they celebrated Harry’s birthday in a similar manner. But again the gates left open for him dusted emptiness on their hopes. The old couple broke down as they couldn’t see Betty suffer silently due to the false hopes she would give to herself. They cried that night and left the world a few months later.
Their last words, “Dear Betty we see you suffer every day under the gloominess of time that cheats you time and again. It is indeed not wise to put yourself to such tormenting. Go back, dear! You have a lot of life left in you. Live them to the fullest as it doesn’t seem that our son is coming back. Maybe, your “best homecoming” is never going to happen!”
Betty was now all alone now. She adopted three orphan children and took care of them and their education. The next year came shambling and she continued with the custom of celebrating Harry’s birthday. She wore that olive green gown again, cooked the best meal for the kids herself, and decorated the house. The door was left open and a chair remained unoccupied in memory of Harry.
The children went straight to bed after dinner. Betty collected cutlery for cleaning. A strange emotion struck her mind. She glanced at the empty chair, which they left unoccupied for Harry. A mere glance sent chills down her spine and she felt a strange romanticism in the air. She went upstairs but just couldn’t sleep due to a strange kind of excitement. Her door was knocked at midnight by the kids who told her that a tall guy in a shiny uniform was waiting at the doorstep to see her.
Betty’s heartbeat paced and she sprinted down the stairs to see her love, Harry, sitting on the table sipping at the leftover soup. There was a natural smile on his face and he spoke, “Didn’t even wait for the birthday boy to end the party eh?”
Harry rose from the chair to let Betty wrap her arms around him and give him the tightest hug she could give. For all these years she struggled to keep her hopes alive. She went through the worst and there she was embracing the best gift of her life. “I always said, I would never let go”. Several kisses followed and Harry committed to never ever leave her again come what may. The couple and the kids danced and played all night. And that was the best homecoming the people of Liverpool know of.
What did you think about this homecoming story that celebrates togetherness, love, and happiness? Let us know what you think of it in the comment section below!