Today is International Women’s History Day. Who are the women in your family that you are remembering or honoring today? How did those women change your life?
There is one woman who is very special to me and inspired me to continue moving forward in a time of great change and sadness for me. Her name is Virginia, or Ginny. Ginny married my cousin, Flying Tiger Robert Brouk, in November 1942. Three weeks after they married, she watched him die in a plane crash as he trained pilots in Orlando, Florida. After Robert’s funeral, no one in the family knew what happened to her. When I began researching Robert’s story, I posted a message on the Flying Tiger message boards in 1996. In 2005, nine years later, Ginny emailed me. The rest is history as I wrote Robert’s book and then others before my marriage collapsed and I became a single mother.
I visited Ginny for the first time, a few months before I moved and started my new life. We spent only three days together, but we laughed, told stories, and only cried a little. Listening to how she coped with life after Robert’s death and moved forward, rather than giving up, inspired me. I wasn’t planning on giving up but in moments of great change and emotion, a lot of things run through your mind. Ginny gave me strength to move forward with less fear.
In 2013 I started writing my book series, “Stories of the Lost.” I asked Ginny if I could write her story, so it could inspire the world. At first she was hesitant because she told me she didn’t do much. She wasn’t [a man] on the front lines with a gun. I responded that she DID make a difference. Her choice to join the Women’s Army Corps (WAC), like many others during the war, allowed women of future generations, including mine, to have more choices in life than to be housewives, nurses, or teachers, all common life paths in the 1940s for women. She gave women of future generations the choice to join the military and serve their country. Ginny contributed to the war effort just as everyone else did and her service should be remembered.
I also explained what LOST meant in the context of my books. Not that you’ve lost your mind or your car keys, but you lost something important that could not be recovered. She lost her husband after three weeks of marriage. All their dreams of the future were gone. My grandfather came back from the war changed and spent the rest of his life in a VA hospital. He lost seeing his boys grow up. My grandmother, his wife, lost her husband in a sense and became a single mom. My cousins who were in their early 20s and died in the war lost their futures. No love, no college, no adventure.
Two books were written and published by early 2014. Stories of the Lost and The Tiger’s Widow. Stories of the Lost contains four stories of my family members who died in service. Robert’s story is in this book. Ginny’s story continues in The Tiger’s Widow, in which we hear a little of Robert’s story and move through Ginny’s experience. It is a good idea to read Robert’s first so you understand everything that happened.
Ginny’s book, The Tiger’s Widow, begins with the following, which illustrates how souls can help and heal each other. The one thing I never expected when I wrote her story, was to end up as part of the story. You’ll have to buy the book if you want to know what happens.
Five Hearts Joined Together
Love knows no boundaries of time and space or life and death. It exists forever in our hearts as we remember and honor those who have gone before us. Through those memories we pass life lessons on to the next generation. We teach others there is light after darkness, hope after despair, and love is the glue that puts shattered hearts back together. This is a story of five hearts separated by time and space; hearts which would meet in the perfect moment. It is a story about never ending love that lived on even after death.
A famous pilot met a young beauty and the two fell in love, Robert and Ginny. Their love soared with the eagles. Their time together was brief but they lived so fully in love in the moment, it is as if nothing but death could have broken them apart. Then death knocked on their door and a plane fell from the sky in a fiery ball. One heart silenced on earth but lived forever in death. One heart shattered into a million pieces.
A year later on another continent, two brothers fought a war, Harvey and Fred. The boys grew up as orphans and wanted a heart to come home to. Fred flew a bombing mission over Austria and was lost, listed as missing for a year. Harvey feared the worst and waited for word which came a year after Fred went missing. A brother’s love lived on after death.
Less than a year after Fred went missing, Ginny found Harvey. A chance meeting and two hearts became one. Pieces of Ginny’s shattered heart started to glue back together, slowly at first and then more quickly. Harvey’s heart had finally found its home with Ginny. He was no longer an orphan or alone. They found each other during a time of war when the world around them collapsed in chaos. Together they created a new world filled with joy, love, and the memories of those lost before their time.
Almost 65 years later, another heart emerged. A young woman trying to start a new life after her heart was shattered. She and Ginny, now a widow for the second time, connected. Little did they know the impact that meeting would have.
Five hearts separated by time and space that met in perfect time, would change the lives of all they touched. Their love would span decades. Their life lessons would provide hope to others in the future.
Five hearts joined forever.
© 2017 World War II Research and Writing Center