Friday, September 24, 2010

The Story of Percival and Rose

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Today’s Blog Post

The Story of Percival and Rose

I think that you need to hear a True Love Story. In this sometimes flaky world that has some strange ideas of what Love and relationships are all about… we need to hear about what real love was some folks.

Get you box of tissue ready… some may cry… fair warning.

The year was about 1915. A friend of Rose told her that she could do something for the War cause by possibly writing to a lonely soldier.

Rose was about 16 years old. She lived in Britain and the War was close by in France. Thousands of men were losing their lives and twice as many families were deeply affected.

Some how Rose received Percival’s name. Percival was originally from Britain, but as a young boy he had moved to Canada with his family. Now as an adult he was serving his new country Canada by fighting in a war that was miserable.

Percival’s job in the war was to drive a team of horses with a wagon back and forth to the front lines carrying armaments and supplies to the soldiers fighting there. There was danger and fear filling every day.

Unlike the tour of duty that modern soldiers have – Percival was doing his part for at least three years.

That is how long Rose wrote to him.

As I sat listening to this fascinating story of True Love, “Esther” spoke softly of her parents, Percival and Rose. “Esther” is in her early 80s now… and most of her family has gone.

When Esther first spoke to me she had told me that she was raised by family members, and she couldn’t remember her parents very well. She remembers nothing of her mother and only a bit about her father. What she tells of now is what she has gleaned over all the years of hearing stories of those old days.

Her journey back to those old days started when she opened an old box that her father had all those years. I believe that she received it after he had passed away. In the box were all the letters that had been kept by Percival – written by Rose. There were three years of letters in the box. Each one was written to encourage a lonely soldier that lived far away in a war torn countryside.

By 1919 Percival returned to Britain on his journey back to Canada. He stopped to see his beautiful letter writer. He had a mere 10 days with her in which they were married. She was 19 years old and he was perhaps 12 years her senior.

After a very short honeymoon he reported to his troop and headed home.

One can only guess the heart ache and the emotional rollercoaster that they must have felt when they parted. Three years of waiting, a marriage and then a difficult goodbye… not knowing when they would see each other again. Times were tough and a journey to a far away country on a Steamship was slow and expensive.

Rose heard in the following two weeks that it was possible for the War Brides to follow their husbands to Canada and begin their new life together in a new country.

Can you imagine what it would be like for a 19 year old girl, in the post “World War One” era, traveling alone, her own parents gone when she was very young and nothing at all holding her back in England? She had never been out of Britain… and only knew of Canada… and a place called Peterborough from her soldier boy.

Boarding the ship about two weeks later she took to her birth. For four solid days she was violently sea sick and never left her small cabin. On the fourth day she was feeling a little better so she got up and headed outside to walk on the deck. She needed fresh air badly.

She stepped on to the deck and looked to the left. Walking towards her was a tall young man… that she recognized… it was her brand new husband Percival!

Something had happened to delay Percival’s departure and he ended up on the same boat as Rose.

What a love story!

They came to Peterborough to begin their life together. They had three children and were doing well. Two boys and a wee girl named Esther.

From what I gathered the influenza that came back with the soldiers from the War… hit the area – or another severe sickness that came their way.

First Esther became very ill and was taken to the Hospital. She was not expected to live. Her little 5 year old body was almost lifeless with this terrible sickness. Next they took Esther’s grandmother to the same hospital. Then Rose was brought to the hospital to deliver her now ready, fourth baby.

The baby was born and then died. Rose died shortly after that. Then the grandmother died following that.

Esther recovered slowly and knew nothing of what had taken place in the hospital.

Her dad Percival never really recovered from that horrible few days. His Rose was gone. His new baby boy was gone. And his mother was gone. The grief was just too much.

Esther never really knew her dad from what she said to me.

At about 75 years old Esther took her father’s box out and read the letters from Rose. She then wrote a book for her own family about a soldier’s love.

That led to a second book and a third… which were published only for her family to read.

Esther looked at me and said, “You need to write your story as well.”

I have been pondering her story and life since hearing her share it with me. I think it may be one of the best stories of love that I have ever heard. WOW!

In Esther’s later years she travelled to England and met with her mom’s relatives that remembered her well. She saw where the 19 year old had lived and heard many stories about her mom… that she never knew all these years.

The love stories were eventually written… but the true love stories were wrapped up quietly in quiet senior citizen that doesn’t say much… ever.

As I listened to Esther, I began to think… how many more stories are there… that I need to hear… and that they need to tell?

Oh Boy…

~ Murray Lincoln ~

1 comment:

Annette Fulford said...

What a poignant story! Thank you for sharing it.