Speaking Personally

A Somber Love Story and a Treasured Family Heirloom
This is a love story about a man I have never met: a World War II veteran whose life profoundly affected my family history. Incredibly, his name was Dick Clark, and he was an U.S. Army Captain. Of importance to this story, he was my great-grandmother’s first husband.
His presence in her life left a profound wound when he made the ultimate sacrifice in service of our country. The pain he left behind means that I do not know, and now can never learn, the details of his service or his death. What I can surmise is that he loved my great-grandmother and dreamed of a life with her, only to put those dreams on hold when America joined the world war.
Widowed at a young age, my great-grandmother met and married another serviceman in the U.S. Army, my great-grandfather Bill Carter. They married and had three daughters, the oldest of whom was my grandmother. Marsha and Bill loved and respected each other until my great-grandmother passed away when I was seven years old.
Her first husband, however, remained an honored presence in her life. At this time of year when love is in the air, I sometimes think about this melancholy love story. To me, it has always been a mysterious and romantic story whose ending I know, but whose crescendo I can never guess.
At some point, my great-grandmother had the diamonds from her first wedding ring set into a gold cross pendant. She handed down the pendant to my grandmother, who handed it down to my mother, who handed it down to me.
My mother wore this cross every day of my life, except on my wedding day, when I wore it. She gave it to me to keep this past July. Every time I wear it, I feel the weight of an overseas war that took the life of a man my great-grandmother loved. I perceive the depth of love that inspired her to carry a piece of him with her the rest of her life. And I cherish the legacy of strength and grace that she passed down to me, embodied in this small, diamond-laden cross.

Howell County News

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