Sixty-Three Years Later.

January 29, 2010

My grandmother’s brother married his wife when they were nineteen years old. It was 1947. I am not going to tell you the story of how they met, or what happened when he courted her. I will however, tell you the reason they are here today, sixty three years later, with two daughters, two son-in-laws, six grandchildren, five grandchildren-in laws, six great-grandchildren, and so much love one could hardly contain it in a sentence.

When he was young, my great-uncle was in the Army during World War II, stationed in Witchita Falls, Texas. He lived with a lot of other men on the base, one of whom happened to be a pilot. The holidays were coming and everyone wanted to go home to their families and girlfriends, but it was too far of a trip. This pilot offered up for debate the idea of chipping in for a small plane along with a couple other guys. Each man would pay something like a hundred dollars (which was a lot in the 1940s), the pilot would fly them home (a few at a time) to the Northeast for the holidays and at the end of the deal, he would get to keep the plane. So my great-uncle chipped in for the deal and a few of them bought the plane. Well it came time for him to be flown up north and for some reason, communication lines were crossed. The pilot thought they were meeting at the little airport and my uncle thought they were picking him up at the barracks. They were both waiting at separate locations for the other, and eventually the pilot gave up and took someone else in my uncle’s place thinking he’d come for him on the next trip up. When my uncle showed up at the airport, they told him that the pilot had left with someone else. Later, he found out the pilot crashed the plane during the flight that would have been his, killing himself and one other passenger, and critically injuring the remaining passengers on board.

I know this story because I visited this side of my family a few weekends ago. One of my cousins just had a little baby named Skyler (the sixth great-grandchild). He is tiny, and oh-so-sweet and we were all gathered together for the special occasion of his bris (a.k.a. circumcision and Hebrew naming). My great-uncle got to talking to me and my dad a little later in the afternoon and he began the story, “You know its amazing how life works”.

When he told us about the plane crash, there was a faraway look in his eyes and he said “Imagine if I had been on that plane,” and he looked around the room and spread his arms “We wouldn’t have had all of this, we wouldn’t have had any of this. I would have been dead.”.

He told us soon after when the war was over, he went home to the girl he had been courting and married her, my great-aunt.

You might be wondering why i’m sharing this story with you, and the reason for that is because love as the whole of its definition is a moving force beyond what any of us can attempt to make sense of. It is in our families histories, it is in the strangers you pass on the street, it is deep in the mountains and far out to sea. Writers have tried to embody it, films have over and over tried to encompass its meaning, but it remains illusive. Romantic love, familial love, everyone speaks its language, and I think its one of the most beautiful and intensely inspiring movements to photograph.

Well now look at that, sixty-three years later. Its amazing how life works.

My great-uncle and aunt when they were married in 1947.

My great-uncle and aunt present day, with me in the middle πŸ™‚


14 Responses to “Sixty-Three Years Later.”

  1. souldipper Says:

    What a fabulous story – capturing the magnificence of the “ordinary”. And thank you for recognizing the significance by writing your uncle’s story. You are a good writer…keep it up! – Amy

  2. Marisa Says:

    Thank you for sharing, Sam. It’s always great to hear these kind of stories, especially when it’s one from our own family.

  3. sherri heitner Says:

    Samie you told the story most beautifully!

  4. Marty Gutherz Says:

    Hi, Samantha,
    I’m your Dad’s cousin. I met you in October at your parents’ apartment when I was visiting New York- I ive in California but am ciurrently on an Asian journey.
    I totally enjoyed your article and the photos- it’s a very sublime, poignant, and spiritually uplifting, and very well written.
    I hope to see you again the next time I’m in New York or at the mega family reunion that your dad is planning.
    Cousin Marty

    • Samantha Says:

      Thanks Marty! I’m sure you’re having a wonderful time on your Asian journey and glad you had a chance to read the post. Hopefully we will meet again when you are in New York next.

  5. Shayna Says:

    Very well written!

  6. Rama Rodvien Says:

    I appreciated your story and that of our family. The pictures were lovely and a pleasure to see. I hope to see all the grandchildren and great granchildren in the near future.
    Maybe you can post some of your photos . Perhaps we can do lunch. Love, Rama

  7. Nathan Annenberg Says:

    I’m a friend of your Dad’s. When he was one of the math consultants on the District 10 team, I was a math coach. We struck up a friendship and since then, we are email pals.

    Your story reminds me how seeming misfortunes are actually a sign that Someone is watching over us.

    The former science coordinator of District 10 – Herb Katz – served in the U.S. Army in WW II. He was in the 99th Division, which was stationed in Belgium in late 1944. Herb contracted a bad case of pneumonia just before he shipped out, and was convalescing when the Germans made a massive surprise counterattack in what was soon the Battle of the Bulge. The 99th Division, lightly armed, and inexperienced, was the first to get hit. Every single man Herb Katz had trained with was killed. What if Herb had not gotten sick?

    • Samantha Says:

      Wow see it is things like that which really make you think about your place in the world and why each one of us is here. I’m so glad that you shared your story with me. That is the whole point of storytelling, to provoke response and deeper sharing and understanding between folks.
      Thanks for reading!

  8. Jenn Says:


    This is beautifully written. My Poppa Izzy is a very special man and you summed up his love for Grandma perfectly. It is very rare a love so true is found, and we are blessed to witness it each day.

    Thank you….
    All my love,

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