Delia Anne and Walt’s Love Story
The background love story about Delia Anne Mays, a character in Restoring Grace.
“Grand, I’m home.”
“I’m in the living room. I put a snack for you on the table.”
Viviane put her book bag down and grabbed the celery and peanut butter before moving to the living room. Bring a small plate, she sat down next to Grand on the couch and began to munch.
Grand looked over, surprised to see she was so quiet. Usually, Viviane came in talking about her day or what she had learned in school. “You’re awful quiet this afternoon.”
Viviane only nodded but didn’t speak. Grand waited her out. She’ll talk when she’s ready.
After her snack was gone, Viviane set her plate down and turned to face Grand. “All of the girls are pairing off with boys. It’s crazy at school. I never know who’s dating who or who’s angry at who because of a recent breakup. I’m only in middle school and can’t believe this is happening.”
Grand chuckled, “Only for a few more weeks, and then you’ll be a ninth grader. Plus, you just turned fourteen. It’s that time.”
Viviane started blushing, “Grand. Not the birds and bees talk. That was awful.”
Frowning, Grand thought, It wasn’t that bad. I had pictures and everything!
Ignoring Viviane’s comment, Grand said, “Not everyone can be like your Grandpa and me.”
“OH? You’ve never told me how the two of you met.”
“Well…” Grand started to fidget. “You see…”
“Grand, you said it yourself, I’m fourteen now.” Hands on her hips, Viviane tried to look older.
Grand watched her granddaughter through new eyes, She’s growing so fast. I wish her parents and my Walt were still alive to see her growing up.
“I was fourteen when I first saw your Grandfather.”
“Fourteen, good grief! I’m fourteen!”
Grand smiled, “Yes, which I still find hard to believe. It seems like just yesterday I saw Walter for the first time.”
“Well, go on…” Viviane moved her legs under her, turning her head to move her black bangs out of her eyes.
Grand settled in her seat but seemed to stare off into space and time as she started her story. “It was April 1957, and my cousin was getting married to Walter’s older brother.”
Soon Viviane was lost in the story.
“Delia Anne, where are you? The bridal party will be lining up in a few minutes. You need to go out to the lobby.”
“Yes, momma. I just wanted a sip of water before…”
“You didn’t get anything on your dress did you?”
Delia Anne’s mother smiled, fixing her daughter’s bow and then tucking a stray dark lock behind her ear. “Good. Your cousin will be here in a moment. Hurry up. The whole wedding party can’t wait for the flower girl.”
“I’m too old to be a flower girl. I’m fourteen as of Thursday.” Frowning, Delia Anne looked down at her dress, thankful it wasn’t pink, but a pretty green that matched her eyes. Her cousin had been nice to let her wear something fitting for her age.
“I know, but you’re the only other girl in the family. We had to improvise.”
Delia Anne frowned, crossing her arms. “It’s still dumb.”
“Go on. It’s too late now.”
Delia Anne walked toward the front of the little church. She knew better than to stomp because her mother would only tell her, ladies don’t show their anger. Rounding the hallway, she stopped abruptly to avoid some of the ushers helping the last few tardy guests find seats before the ceremony started.
“Over here, Delia Anne.” A redhead called, waving a gloved hand to catch her attention.
Walking to stand in line, she started to talk to one of her cousin’s friends when someone bumped her from behind. “Oops. Say, miss.”
Delia Anne turned but froze to see the brightest blue eyes she’d ever seen smiling down at her. Mumbling, “It’s okay.” She didn’t have a chance to speak before the tall, teenage boy continued helping a maiden aunt down the aisle.
Turning to the redhead, Delia Anne asked, “Who’s tall, dark and gorgeous?”
“Oh, that’s the groom’s younger brother.”
Delia Anne watched him continue down the aisle and then moved to stand in line with the other groomsmen. Laughing, the young man straightened his tie, and even from the back of the church, Delia Anne was mesmerized. “I’m going to marry him someday!”
“Delia Anne, are you crazy?”
Delia Anne turned to face her friend, “No.” Frowning, she continued, “I’m just stating a fact. I’m going to marry him. You wait and see.”
“You don’t even know his name.”
“But I will.”
Delia Anne didn’t have time for any more conversation as her mother rushed up to line up the bridesmaids and start the ceremony. During the reception, she was able to learn the young man was her age, only a month older. His name was Walter Mays and he had the best laugh that lit up his bright baby blues.
“Grand… are you saying you knew you were going to marry Grandpa at first sight?”
Grand turned slowly turned to face Viviane, forgetting that she was even in the room as she remembered that first wedding from so long ago. Smiling, Grand nodded, “I looked into his eyes, and knew.”
“Did you talk to him?”
Chuckling, Grand said, “No, actually. Not at the wedding anyway, but his brother did marry my new favorite cousin. I saw him at her house a lot, and for holidays.”
“Did you start dating?” Viviane moved closer to Grand. Caught up in the tale, she forgot what she had been upset about.
“No, we only talked the few times we saw each other at my cousins’. Honestly, it was never longer than a few hours, but I knew each time we talked, he was the one.”
“So, what changed?”
“I got a letter in April of 1960. I was seventeen.”
“A letter? What did it say?”
Picking up her story, Grand continued, “I received a letter from my cousin. I was in Savannah visiting friends for Spring Break and she wrote to tell me Walt was leaving for California to join the marines.”
Grand patted her hand, before saying, “Yes, and the worst part was he was engaged to get married. His fiancée was going to meet him in California to marry before he went left for training.”
“Get out. You’re making this up.”
“No,” Grand said shaking her head.
“What did you do?” Tucking a lock of black hair behind her ear, Viviane waited for Grand’s reply with bated breath.
“I did the only thing I could. I went to stop the wedding!”
“You did what?” Viviane yelled, her jaw hitting her upraised knee.
Grand laughed, and continued, “I got on a bus to California to stop the wedding.”
“Good grief, no wonder you waited to tell me this story!”
“I still don’t want you getting any ideas,” Grand said, eyeing her with sharp green eyes.
“I promise, no jumping on a bus to run off with a practically married man.”
“Hummphh. He wasn’t married yet.” Grand stared out the window but continued her story.
“I was able to get on a bus mostly full of servicemen that would take me straight there after a very nice soldier said I could be his daughter.”
Grand smiled thinking of the kind men who helped her get food and kept her safe on the long journey. Most all of my money went for my bus ticket. “When I arrived in California, I went to the address where Walt was staying. I don’t know who was more shocked, him or me. It had been almost six months since we saw each other.”
“Delia Anne?!?! What are you doing here?”
“Can I come in, Walt?”
“Yeah, sure.” Walter stood back, frowning as she walked past, her heels clicking on the linoleum.
Delia Anne walked over to the couch in the living room and sat down. Now that she was here, she was unsure how to start. I practiced the whole bus ride, telling the servicemen my story and how I need to confess my love before he marries the wrong woman, but now… I can’t remember what I was going to say.
Walt watched Delia Anne smooth her knee-length navy skirt, deep in thought. Over and over, she ran her hands along imaginary wrinkles. Walter ran his hands through his own hair but stopped when he realized he didn’t have much left after the military haircut he received a few days ago.
“Delia Anne is everything alright?”
Delia Anne looked up, smiling into his blue eyes, missing his long hair for just a moment. He still looks dashing even in only jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t remember him this muscled before. “Yes, everyone’s fine.” Taking a deep breath, she gushed out, “I hear congratulations are in order.”
Walt looked down at his bare feet, “Yes. Umm… We’ve known each other for years, and when I saw her…”
“You can’t marry her.”
Walt’s head jerked up, staring at Delia Anne now up on her feet, her long dark hair falling from its braid. “Excuse me?”
“Walt, I know this seems to be coming out of the blue, but you can’t marry her.”
Walt didn’t know what to say, shocked, he moved to sit on the edge of a chair in a fellow marine’s apartment, baffled by the conversation he was having with her.
Starting to pace, Delia Anne walked back and forth in front of the couch. “I had this all planned, and I rehearsed it with the guys on the bus just to make sure I had it right…”
“You did what with what guys?!?”
Looking at him, Delia Anne huffed, “I told them what I was going to tell you when I saw you.”
Eyebrow raised, he asked, “And that was?”
“That you shouldn’t marry some other girl, but marry me… instead.”
Delia Anne froze in place, unable to move while she waited for his reaction. Please don’t let him start laughing, Lord.
When he didn’t speak, Delia Anne began the speech she had prepared on the long bus ride. “Walt, I know we’ve never dated, or even spoken about love. But I do love you and I knew you were the one since the first time I saw you at the wedding. You’re kind, sweet, and funny. You make me laugh when no one else can. I never doubted that we wouldn’t be married someday and well, you can’t go marry some other woman.”
Falling into the chair, Walt stared at Delia Anne, watching her grow more confident as she spoke.
Pushing her hair out of her face, Delia Anne continued, “I don’t believe in divorce, I believe in a marriage of three strands- you, me and God. If you marry that woman you’re making the wrong choice for both of us.” Pausing, she said quietly, “I’m going to love you the rest of my life and no one else will do.”
Walt’s jaw hit the floor. He waited a moment to see if she was finished or had any other bombs to drop. “Delia Anne, you’ve never, I thought… Wow.”
Folding her arms across her chest, Delia Anne looked at him. “Well, have you ever thought about me that way? Anyway other than your sister-in-law’s cousin.”
Walt looked into her green eyes and thought to himself, Almost from the first moment I saw her in the green dress with the black bow. All of this time, I thought she wasn’t interested in me, just wanting to be friends.
Delia Anne watched him, afraid to move. He’s not talking, Lord. This is bad. I’ve done exactly what my mother always warns me not to do – jumping into the fire. I think I skipped the frying pan she’s always mentioning and went straight into the oven. Starting to walk backward, she began to think how she could make some sort of exit with how humiliating herself further.
Seeing her stepping back, Walt slowly stood and walked up to Delia Anne who was practically against the window. Staring into her green eyes, Walt searched her face for a moment before leaning down to gently kiss her lips. Delia Anne froze, but then she felt herself relaxing into his arms.
Deepening the kiss, Walt knew he wouldn’t be able to marry his childhood friend. The girl his family expected him to marry. He was holding the woman he was meant to wed. Breaking off the kiss, he felt content when Delia Anne rested her head on his shoulder and sighed.
“That was better than I ever dreamed, Walter Mays.”
Chuckling, Walt said, “It wasn’t bad at all. I think I’m going to like being married to you.”
Delia Anne gasped and pulled back to stare into his laughing blue eyes. “You’re crazy as I am.”
“I’d have to be.” Sighing, he said, “I leave for training in a few days.”
Tear sliding down one cheek, Delia Anne said, “I know. That’s the other reason I’m rushing this.”
“Well, we’ll need to find the courthouse.”
A loving smile lit up Delia Anne’s face. “So that’s a yes?”
“Yes, Delia Anne. I will marry you. I’ll love you for the rest of my life and into the next.” Pausing for a moment, “Just one thing.”
“Can we tell everyone I proposed to you?”
Laughing, Delia Anne smiled, enjoying another kiss. “Of course, Walt.”
“Grand are you okay?”
Grand looked over at Viviane and smiled, even though her face was covered in tears. “I’m fine, sweetheart. Your grandfather I and was married the next day. His finance wasn’t thrilled, but she said she understood. His family took a bit to come around, but they grew to love me.”
Hugging Grand, Viviane said with a giggle, “Who wouldn’t?”
“Thank you, my dear.” Brushing back a stray lock of Viviane’s hair, Grand said, “Now you know about me and my Walt. Just don’t let it give you any ideas.”
Viviane shook her head adamantly, “No, way. Boys are too much trouble. I’m not going to date until I’m in my thirties and well established in my career.”
Grand chuckled, “We’ll see. Now, I need to start dinner. Do you have homework?”
“Not really with school out in just a few days. I can help with dinner.”
“Grand, did you ever regret marrying Grandpa, even after, well, after…”
Grand looked Viviane in the eye, “No, sweetie. Never regret falling in love, even if it’s only for a short time.” Frowning she continued, “I know you’ve had a lot of heartache in your short time on this earth, but even though your grandpa and I were only married a short time before he passed away, but I wouldn’t trade A SINGLE moment of the time we were together. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have you!”
“I love you, Grand.”
“I love you, too.” Wiping a tear, Grand smiled and said, “Now, let’s go make dinner.”
This story of Grand and Walt is not completely fiction but written based on my own Grandmother’s love story. Leona Crisp met “Tip” Adams when she was 12 and he was 18. Tip’s older brother was marrying Leona’s sister and Leona knew, at first sight, he was the one.
Delia Anne is actually a bit tamer than my feisty grandmother because, at the age of twelve, Leona told Tip they would be married someday.
At seventeen, World War II was on and Leona went to California to stop Tip from marrying another woman. She traveled by train, full of servicemen because that was the only thing available. A kind general took her under his wing, claiming she was his wife to allow her safe passage. Food was only available for the servicemen, and the young gentlemen shared their meals with her.
She arrived in time to stop the wedding and the rest is history. Their wedding photo has had a prominent place in our family. Grandma always smiled when she saw it.
She loved him, even years after he was gone. Like Delia Anne’s husband gone too soon, Grandpa passed away in 1991, and Grandma lived many years afterward.
She always got a faraway look talking about her Tip.
I hope you enjoyed this story of Delia Anne’s great love and by extension my own Grandmother’s love story.
If you want to know more about Delia Anne’s plan to help her granddaughter have her own sweet love story, be on the lookout for Restoring Grace, coming August 12, 2018.
Until next time, may God’s grace surround you,