Jon's Love Story

Jon's Love Story

    It was a quiet Sunday morning on December 7, 1941.  Young Army Lt. Robert Bradford Shapland (my wife’s uncle) was taking a leisurely stroll on the beach, taking in the bright sunshine shining down from a bright blue Honolulu sky.  He was smiling.  He knew he would be seeing the of his life, Jeannie, in just a few hours.  Bob and Jean has been united in marriage at Ft. Lewis, Washington, less than a year earlier.  Present at his wedding was his commander, a man by the name of General Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Bob was stationed very near the American naval base at Pearl Harbor. Just before 8 he heard a plane overhead, thinking it was a strange time for his fellow soldiers to do practice maneuvers  

It was only seconds later when Bob realized it was more than a practice run when he witnessed a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a fierce assault. The United States was at war. 

As Bob told the story to our family, the next many hours were a blur as he worked to assist fallen soldiers on land and in the sea.  He was proud that he could help save some but, in the end, 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded.    

Still in shock the next day, after hearing President Roosevelt officially declare war on Japan, he began looking for that love of his life, Jeannie.  The housing unit where they lived on the base had been destroyed.  He feared the worst.  

Two weeks went by.  Every day he asked everyone he saw if they had seen Jean.  No one had.  About to give up, he happened to drop by a hospital on the island where dozens of the injured troops and others were being treated.  He thought that maybe, just maybe, Jeannie had been hurt and might be there.  

He asked one of the staff people at the hospital if anyone had seen or heard anything about Jean Shapland.  To his incredible surprise, one of the doctors said, “Sure, she’s here right now helping us take care of the soldiers.”  

Accompanied by the doctor,  Bob rushed in to see Jeannie.  She had volunteered to help. Help was in very short supply. They saw each other, ran to each other and hugged for what seemed like forever.  They cried together.  Jean said that she had wondered all this time if Bob was still alive.  Bob told Jean he wondered the same about her. 

They were back together again and more in love than ever before.  Ultimately, they moved to a little town in southwest North Dakota where Bob started his own business.  He remained active in the VFW until he passed away in 2005, just one year after Jeannie left this earth.  They were again united.  

A sidebar:  Bob saw the movie Pearl Harbor.  He told the family, it was almost like seeing the story of his life. 

God Bless Uncle Bob and those thousands and thousands of WWII vets who served and sacrificed for our country.   Those vets are quickly leaving us at a dramatic rate every day.  Soon there will be none left.  When you see a WWII vet, thank the soldier for his service.  Most wouldn’t even mind if you gave him (or her) a hug.

-Jon

Colleen and Colleen
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Jena's Love Story

Jena's Love Story

My grandparents, like most, were amazing, loving, caring, thoughtful and always welcomed us with open arms.  About 10 years ago my grandma developed dementia, she knew it and would write notes on all sorts of things, where something came from, who she received it from, who she wanted to have it, those type of notes.  My grandpa cared for her in home for as long as he could until it got too hard.  Her dementia grew into full Alzheimer's and her quality of life deteriorated.  My grandpa put her in a nursing home less than a mile from their house.  He visited her every day at 1pm and took communion with her on Sundays. He rarely missed a visit with her.  It was hard. My grandma was such a loving, vivacious women so to see her lose herself was heartbreaking.  My grandpa was fairly healthy.  He had had prostrate cancer, but got it checked like clockwork and besides the pitfalls of being almost 90, lived a good life.  Him and my grandma had been very active in their late age: traveling, boating, even water skiing, kept them young!  Sadly 2 1/2 years ago my grandpas prostate cancer came back with a vengeance, quickly spread to his bones and organs without little warning.  We were told there was nothing more they could do and he wanted to go home, the home he had lived in for 60 years.  We brought my grandma over from the nursing home, she could no longer speak, only mumbled and babbled and some days didn't even acknowledge you were there.  Bringing her there as tough as it was, you could tell she knew she was home.  She was alert and awake and we sat her wheelchair next to my grandpas hospice bed.  He too was in and out, barely knowing anyone was around....but I know he knew she was there.  That evening after returning my grandma to the nursing home we received a call in the middle of the night, assuming it was my mom telling me grandpa passed, she broke the news....my grandma had in fact passed away in her sleep.  My grandpa passed away less than 12 hours later.  

I struggled with the fact of my grandpa dying before my grandma, I felt like they would both be alone.  I now believe with 100% certainty that they both also knew this and they were in it together, just like they had always been.  They knew exactly what was happening and new it was their love story.  They were married for 67 years. The love and commitment they portrayed will always be remembered.  

-Jena

Colleen Berkowitz
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Jaci's Love Story

Jaci's Love Story

I'm a speech pathologist, and I work with adults who have communication disorders. One thing I love to work on in therapy with my patients is their ability to say "I love you!" to their spouse/kids/grandkids/etc. I believe that expression of emotion provides so much healing to the situation for both parties. 

My son, Jack, has autism. He was diagnosed at 2, but I knew in my heart before that. Around 3 years of age we raised money to purchase an iPad and communication app that I could program to fit his needs. Our hopes were to replace some of his screams with words. The first time he was able to tell me "I love you!" was the first night we worked with the iPad. I will never forget that moment and the healing it began in my heart. Through repeated use of that device Jack started to copy the words and phrases as he touched the buttons. He was also in intensive therapy. Later on we had the opportunity to go to Disney World as a family (those credit card points add up when paying for loads of therapy, and we wanted to do something fun as a family with that - we needed a pause from life!) While we were there something "clicked" with Jack. When we returned home he became fascinated with Disney movies and especially enjoyed watching the "happy endings" over and over. It was during that time that I received my first kiss from Jack. He started requesting "princess kisses" from me (sure to melt any Mama's heart). 

Jack is almost 6 now. He tells me he loves me, and he accepts kisses on the cheek. When watching movies (The Little Mermaid especially) he pauses them exactly on the moment of the kiss at the end and asks Mama for a "princess kiss" to "make a match". It doesn't matter what we went through that day, it melts away when I feel that love.

(Pictured above: Jack and I headed out to see The Little Mermaid play in our town. He loves Ursula, and he quoted all her lines and clapped upon each appearance on the stage. At the end of the play Ariel kissed the prince and Jack grabbed my face for a princess kiss!)

-Jaci

Colleen and Colleen
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Cheryl's Love Story

Cheryl's Love Story

My husband and I met through mutual friends in high school and again in college when we started dating but that's not where our love story started. The year before we got married, after dating for 4 years in and after college, my soon-to-be husband and I were at my mom's house going through boxes of my things that my mom told us she was passing onto us now that we had our own house. It was boxes and boxes of pictures, notebooks, books, yearbooks from my childhood. We sat in her basement for hours going through boxes. At one point, I grabbed a black and white composition notebook labeled 4th grade from my one year at an elementary school in a neighboring town when my family and I first moved to Syracuse. I flipped open the cover to see those little headshot pictures kids trade in elementary school. I had about 20 of them, all girls from 4th grade, except one. That one picture of a cute little boy with tons of freckles was my husband. We didn't even realize we had known each other that one year in elementary school but apparently it was enough for him to earn a spot in my notebook. That's our love story and one I am so proud to share with our girls someday!
                                                                                                   -Cheryl
Colleen and Colleen
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