40-Love Letters from Vietnam: In the Gentle Serenity of Your Arms
Index to All Tim and Kate Letters
Click here for Index to all letters from Tim to Kate and Kate to Tim from the beginning of Tim's enlistment to the point of today's posting.
Back Home, Kate Was Feeling...
If you remember from the past letters, Tim and Kate are at a critical point in their relationship. Tim will be home on leave at Christmas time and the intensity of the passion that felt during his last leave is troublesome to the two young people who were raised with strict Catholic values. During the weeks before this letter, Kate had gone to Father Mike who explained that people marry each other and the ceremony is societal to proclaim to family and friends a fact that has already taken place in a couple's minds and hearts.
So at this point in time, 47 ago,(as of 11/27/2016) I was trying to feel comfortable with what essentially Father Mike's "permission" for Tim and I to forgo the ceremony until we knew his status regarding Vietnam and "marry ourselves."
Known only to me, however, are the grave reservations I felt at this time about taking that step before marriage. I was so conflicted that during this month of November, I remember making serious plans to disappear at Christmas time - to totally disappear. I didn't want to disappoint Tim and make him more frustrated by telling him I couldn't follow through with the decision that he thought I had made, but I was worried that if we made love before marriage, I would feel guilty my whole life, and that guilt might have the potential of changing my feelings for Tim. I didn't want that to happen - ever. During these weeks before Tim's arrival home, I remember trying to plan where I might go. I wouldn't even tell my parents where I was; I'd write a letter to everyone and explain that I was safe and not to worry and that I would be back when Tim left again after his leave. I would explain to Tim in a letter how my love for him didn't want to put him through the angst we had experienced the last time he was home. At this point, I was certain Tim would be going to some other base for Officer's Training and not to Vietnam, and that meant we would be buying time even though it still left the question of what would happen for us beyond OCS.
I do know that I loved Tim so intensely that I didn't want to be the source of his continued confusion. It was all so complicated. If you notice, his letter of the 24th refers to me as his "wife." Tim meant by this comment to reiterate Father Mike's point that we were already married in our souls. Of course, how could I not be touched by words such as those and be further conflicted and more and more convinced I was being unreasonable to want to run away? Even thought this was the 60's, I seemed to be the only one who hadn't embraced the sexual freedom our generation was seeming to have been given.
Of course, while I don't remember feeling this additional thought, I wonder now if at the core of my conflict was the question of why Tim was reluctant to marry me. Yes, his future was uncertain, yes he had that engineering mindset that requires everything to be safe and in order before acting, yes we didn't know whether or not he would be sent to Vietnam, but none of that mattered to me. In the back of my brain somewhere, I might have reasoned that if he really, really wanted to marry me, he would. I didn't mean to make this all into some mind game of decision making. I just truly wanted to feel loved enough for Tim to decide that no matter what we faced, we'd face it together as man and wife.
"Thank You For Making This Place Bearable for Me"
19 November, 1969
Well, my love, today has been boring, routine – as a matter of fact, the only good thing about today is that it’s over, and it’s one day closer to the time I’ll be with you. Now that I think about it, that does make it a good day. O my life, how I miss you. As the weeks become few, time seems to slow down. And sometimes when my heart seems to reach through space and touch yours, time stops. I love you, Kate, with a love that grows day by day, a love that sustains me, a love that has become the object of my whole life. You are my life, Kate.
How have things been in Milwaukee? Any more snow? It’s been getting colder here, no snow though, just cold rain. Sometimes it’s warm enough here to go about in short sleeves. But I’d much rather be chilled to the bone plowing my way through Milwaukee snow - that is plowing my way to your door. How’s your lesson planning coming, Kate? Devoting anymore time to it? You probably do more than enough work.
Kate, I’ve just talked to you. How much you give this poor GI. I hope I can return some of that happiness to you, my love. Our talk made it possible for me to face the rest of the week, for Kate, while I’ve been here at Ft.Gordon, I’ve lived only for your letters and our phone conversations. Thank you. Thank you, Kate, for making this place bearable for me. If only I could give to you all you have given me. Take care of yourself, Kate. Give my love to our family.
"Miss McCormick, I Plan to..."
21 November, 1969
Hello my love, how are you? I hope this letter finds you happy, not angry with your mother, lesson planning, and still in love with me. Hmm, I sure don’t ask for much, do I? How’s your day been, my life? Filled with joy, rewards of your efforts as a teacher, peace, warmth, and love, I pray. These are the only things worthy of your gentle heart, my love. I wish I could be there, Kate, to help you through each day, to be what you need when you needed it. Even now, I hope my love and my prayers make life happier for you just as your love makes even the army life bearable.
Well, it’s Friday night, my love, and we’ve just had a GI party in preparation for tomorrow’s inspection. Just another phase of the army’s planned harassment policy. It’s the start of another long, lonely weekend without you, Kate. But in only a few more, I’ll be with you again. That thought alone sustains me. In school, we’ve started the SCAE equipment. Surprised? No AN or ARC’s. It’s a system of airborne miniaturized radios, each smaller than that old band radio you have. It’s a good idea, but unfortunately, they don’t work, which makes trying to study them or repair them a complete farce. The army bought the system before all the bugs had been engineered out – another example of the efficient use of army planning. The only thing that gives satisfaction to their study is the fact that they are the last radios in the course. It does seem to be a fitting way to end this class!
My love, I don’t know as yet what the army plans to do with me. I will know by Christmas though, so we will be able to plan accordingly. I think it only fair to warn you, Miss McCormick. that I intend to make you Mrs. Moreno. All my hope and plans are directed toward that end. If it’s at all possible, and maybe even if it isn’t, I will.
I’d better close now, Kate; it’s getting late.
PS I love you, Kate
PSS I want to wish Mrs. A luck in her encounters with the “holy terror.”
24 November, 1969
How am you? I are fine. See how desperately I’m in need of a teacher? I warn you, I’m a pretty hopeless case. It may take 50 or 60 years before you make any progress. But there’s one thing I’ll never have trouble saying: “I love you, Kate. You’re my whole life."
Guess what happened? We done did it! Ye, we "osted" again, and we "losted" big! We were in second place, but now we’ve dropped to seventh. That is seventh out of a possible 20 positions. But we look optimistically to next week.
By now, you’ve probably impressed those visiting physical education teachers by applying what you’ve learned to the teaching of the deaf. You know, I still don’t have it straight in my mind what “Movement Education” is. Will you try to explain it to me again when I come home. I hope the last minute preparations for the Thanksgiving play aren’t too taxing, and none of the pilgrims get cold feet.
Hey thanks for the mints, Kate, or more exactly, the mint! It was more like a gigantic chocolate covered mint candy bar. It was a little messy to eat, but it was good. Thank you, Kate for your thoughtfulness.
I needed you today, Kate, as I need you every day. O Kate, there were many times today that I felt your reassuring touch. Katie Ann, you are my joy. How I long to take refuge from the mad world in the gentle serenity of your arms. In your arms is the only place I can hope to find peace and happiness. My wife,* how I long to hold you close to me and whisper those three beautiful words over and over again. I love you.
*see Kate's note in today's posting