Once upon a time, in a kingdom by the sea, there lived a young widow with her four daughters and little son. They lived happily, if frugally, on a farm in the country and all was well. Then war came to their country. Their simple, happy life changed. Some of the girls went to work as land girls, helping their government in whatever ways they could--sewing bandages, working on farms, raising money through efforts of all kinds.
One day the young widow and her youngest daughter who was seventeen ventured into a nearby city to do some necessary shopping. At teatime they decided to give themselves a rare treat and have tea in a little tearoom in the shopping district.
As they stood in line, a group of young soldiers from a distant land entered the shop. One of them wore his hat at a rakish angle and his blue eyes sparkled as they fell on the fair face of the youngest daughter. She stood closer to her mother and he approached boldly, asking permission to take tea with them. The young widow, unaccustomed to such quick introductions, murmured something that the soldier assumed meant, "Yes." He joined the women at their table and the daughter soon fell under his spell. As they rose to leave, the soldier swept up both checks, and over their protestations, paid for their tea.
When they parted, the soldier asked if he might see the daughter again. "I suppose so," she said. "There is a dance in my village tonight. You may come if you wish." He promised to be at the dance and said good-bye.
It was only when he left that the daughter realized she had not told him her name or the name of her village. With a sinking heart, she knew it was unlikely she would ever meet the soldier again.
She had underestimated his determination. He was angry with himself for being so foolish. Why had he not asked at least where she lived? In desperation he asked everyone he knew if they had heard about a dance to be held that evening. At last, one person said he though there was to be a dance in a small village about seven miles away. The soldier put on his best uniform, mounted his bicycle, and rode quickly to the village.
He found the village with ease, but he had no idea how to find the young maiden he had met at the tearoom. A man walked into view and the soldier approached him.
"Excuse me, sir. I am looking for a beautiful girl with auburn hair. Do you know of such a girl?"
The man looked at the soldier. "Oh, indeed. I know who you're looking for." He leered at the soldier. "She lives in the end house on the next street. You can't miss it."
The soldier thanked the man excitedly and rode down the street. At the last house on the street he dismounted and walked to the door. As he raised his hand to knock, the door opened. There stood a woman with red hair, but this woman was heavily made up and her clothing made no mystery of her trade. Low-cut, clinging red satin draped her figure.
"Hi there, honey, come on in." "No, thanks," the soldier stammered. "I seem to have found the wrong address." He stumbled back to his bike, embarrassed.
He rode slowly back to the main street, thinking he would never find the girl that had filled his mind since their meeting that afternoon. He did not even know where in this village the dance might be taking place. He had been on a wild goose chase, he thought. It was no good; he would never see her again.
It was at that moment a movement caught his eye. Coming down the street was the very girl he had been seeking, walking with her mother and laughing. The young man rushed over and before she could say a word, he said, "Please tell me your name so I will never lose you again."
They married five months later, moved to his country, had thirteen children and lived happily all their years.
He never lost her again during their sixty-one long years together.
Back in her country, her sisters also married and had children. The cousins on either side of the ocean seldom heard from each other except through their mothers, and only saw each other once or twice over the long years. Then a miracle occurred. Someone invented the Internet. Someone invented email and blogging and Facebook.
The long-separated cousins could finally share photos and messages across the miles. One cousin started a blog, and her cousins read it in their distant home, and heard their cousin's voice through another invention called podcast.
The elderly aunt and uncle heard the podcast too, and when one cousin emailed across the ocean to share this news, he became the 100,000th visitor to this blog. And they will all live happily, talking and sharing through their computers, to the end of their days.
Photos of Uncle Ted, Aunt Flo and John (my 100,000th visitor and wonderful cousin) and lower photo of my cousin Les who found us on Facebook and posted these last two pictures on FB. I am pretty sure he won't mind me borrowing them.