In Memory

Except for my annual Christmas post, I don’t do many reruns on my blog, but I’ve lost a faithful blog follower and feel a need to remember. We’ll celebrate the 94 years of Moran Pope’s life at University Baptist Church tomorrow where preparations are already in place for the expected overflow crowd. Here’s the blog I wrote for Valentine’s Day in 2014.

WWII Love Story

Valentine’s Day would be a waste without a good love story, and one of my favorites comes from World War II. Six decades after it happened, Yvonne Pope’s eyes shone every time I heard her tell it. Her husband Moran could entertain with his own version – and with a matching twinkle in his eye.

Small town Newton, Mississippi girls’ wedding expectations included a white dress extending into a long train before a bank of flowers and candelabra with lifelong friends standing up for the couple as bridesmaids and ushers. World War II brought on adjustments. Moran learned he would be shipped out to the South Pacific upon completion of his officer training at Colombia University in New York City. Yvonne left her original wedding plans behind and boarded a train. They were married in Manhattan’s Riverside Church – #38 of 54 Navy couples on the same afternoon. They would be separated for most of the next two years.

After the war, she and Moran settled in Hattiesburg, MS where they raised their son and daughter. He served as mayor and practiced law. She served as gracious hostess. Both were active in community and church activities.

Yvonne’s story was fed by the abundant love songs of the era, and she passed along her love for the music to her daughter. Yvonne played the piano while Melinda sang along. The passion was contagious.

In recent years, as Yvonne’s health failed, Melinda DeRocker made what she describes as a homemade recording for her mother, picking their favorites to share. After Yvonne’s death, with encouragement and support from her husband Rob, the other member of her own love story, Melinda produced a professional album of those songs dedicated to her parents. I listen as I write, “Gibraltar may crumble – Our love is here to stay,” and picture Yvonne and Moran, both storytellers, recounting their versions of the story. While their young love makes for an exciting story, the better part is that the end of it was nowhere in sight with Yvonne’s death sixty-eight years later.

Still forever young at 94, Moran read my blogs on Facebook and often offered a comment. I was in an OLLI class with him a couple of weeks before his death where he still relished learning something new. He savored life until, like the grandfather’s clock in the song, his heart stopped short on March 2 never to go again. My own heart is grateful for the smiles he brought with his stories and for the example he set of how to live and how to die.