A true love story
"So, was it an eyes-meet-across-the-room-thing and you knew you were destined for each other instantly?" I asked my Mom. "No," she laughed, "it was a swinging-door-thing and once we met, then we knew it was destiny."
It was 1946 when my parents met in postwar Oldenburg, Germany while working for British Intelligence. Dad (a.k.a. Peter Russell) had survived WW II after being in many challenging battles. He was a "frightfully English chap" who grew up in the south of England. Mom (Blanche Moore - a.k.a. Pat Russell) had experienced the war in a different way. One of the many bombing raids on Belfast, Northern Ireland had demolished her family home.
It only took Dad one week after he saw Mom going through the now infamous swinging door into the Intelligence Offices, to make sure he was introduced to her. Once they met, they were inseparable and spent many hours dancing at the Officers Club in Oldenburg. Mom and Dad were known for being fabulous ballroom dancers and other dance participants would frequently stand aside and watch them together as they swirled around the dance floor, eyes locked on one another.. Dad was a lean, good-looking man of 6' and he was handsome in his British Intelligence Uniform. Mom was and still is a petite 5' 2" pretty Irish woman with twinkly eyes and a penchant for laughing a lot.
As they danced together, Dad would sing (in German):
"Do you remember the precious time when we came together for life,
My heart sang a little melody for you day and night.
Do you remember that beautiful time?
Even though youth will fade, songs of love will always stay.
Should fate ever darken your happiness,
My song will always light it up for you."
They were the first British couple to be married in Oldenburg after the war. They were transferred to the village of Brake on the Weser River in Germany as a husband/wife team with British Intelligence specializing in political and counter intelligence. Dad had a network of agents under his supervision. He and his agents contributed to the break up of the Communist party in that area of Germany. "Peter and Pat's" cover for being in post war Germany was the interrogation of returning prisoners of war from Russia.
But at night their real work would begin. Dad would direct and rendezvous with various agents in the field. Another agent, would cautiously make his way back to Mom with stolen documents. This home rendezvous would usually happen after midnight with Mom waiting nervously for the agent to arrive. She would then translate and type the information immediately, so that it could be sent to the head office of British Intelligence in London, England. It was a tense and nerve wracking time.
"Do you hear my secret calling
Open up your sweet loving heart,
When you have longingly thought of me tonight.
Then I will be with you in your dream
Let me look at you once again
Show me your much loved face
Then turn off the light
My heart will not forget you
Please go to sleep"
Dad died in 1989 in Salmon Arm, seven years after retiring as a Special Agent for the Canadian National Railroad Police in Prince George. As well as being named Citizen of the Year in 1972, he was also the recipient of the Governor General's award for his contribution to the youth of that city.
In the years since his death, Mom had searched for their special song. She wrote to CBC radio, and she had asked people she met who were of German descent if they had heard of the song. She was nearly ready to give up until eight months ago. She was in "Styles on Mane" in Vernon having her hair done, when a gentleman came in to have his hair cut. As he had a German accent, Mom asked him if he had heard of the song. He said he hadn't, but promised to look into it for her. (His name is Julius and he is the neighbour and good friend of the owner of the shop, Cynthia Robertson)
One month later, Mom went to her weekly hair appointment. As she sat down, Cynthia turned to her friend Julius who was in the shop and said, "Julius, I forgot to turn on the radio today. Would you turn it on for me please?"
Soon the beautiful words of the song "Do You Hear My Secret Calling" were being played throughout the salon. Julius Topf had contacted friends in Germany and with the help of a popular newspaper columnist the song had been found on a CD of hit songs from 1934 to 1943. Mom was completely overwhelmed with happiness when she heard the song again after 50 years.
My parents shared the special kind of intense and enduring love alluded to in this lovely song. It was their heart song. Now she can close her eyes as she listens to the music and from her memory bank, imagine that she is back on the dance floor, being tenderly held in the arms of her beloved as he sang to her.
"Just as autumn and spring will always be,
So will sorrow and joy forever change the earth.
Every hour of sadness is followed by a day of sunshine,
Every parting is followed by a new embrace.
Storms in life will pass as long as we will understand each other.
When your heart fills with sorrow, quietly sing my song again."
Carole Fawcett is a published free lance writer and owner of a stress management and laughter therapy business. http://www.afunnybusiness.ca She is the founder and trainer of therapeutic clowns in the beautiful Okanagan Valley, in B.C., Canada