Wilbert and Nora

She smiles at me as we meet and I extend a hand to hold hers and her eyes dance in appreciation. His hand is strong and firm as we shake.   She moves little from her wheelchair. He is Wilbert and she is Nora. They are in the golden years of their life and I suspect each day is one more gift in this race with time for them. We sit at the dinner table and he tells me their story. Nora has Huntingtons Disease and is losing all her motor skills. She is in her mid-80s as is Wilbert. They were married in 1944. The draft had taken him away to war but before he left they were married. It was a whirlwind of 3 days. The joy of being husband and wife and the sadness of having to part. Wilbert would drive a landing craft on Iwo Jima and come away untouched. He talks of many things pertaining to those days. The sand, the foxholes, storms at sea and he is silent on other things though I see the sadness and pain in his eyes 66 years later. For a year and a half he wrote Nora each day and she kept every letter. Nora listens intently and often speaks a word or two to correct him on certain facts. Under the stamps on those letters they had their own code in single letters. No words. It was a way for her to always know where he was. In the ports of the far east he would buy her silk fabric and send it home. Nora then says “and gum” and smiles like a child. She loved gum back then so Wilbert always included some in his packages. We continue to eat dinner and as Wilbert talks he stabs a piece of watermelon and without hesitation places it in Noras mouth. So tender, so loving, so caring. I ask Nora if Wilbert looked good in uniform and she replies with a twinkle “Real Good!”. I am touched by her eyes. How she looks at him and how he looks at her after almost 66 years of marriage. I see two young hearts that never grew old. The bodies and mind may be showing the signs of age but their smiles and true affection is intoxicating. If I could bottle that love, that appreciation, that I see in them for each other, I would give it to those who still think that all is lost in this world. You see, there is hope, there is happiness and there is love because there is Wilbert and Nora.


  1. Tammy Tharp

    This is such a lovely story! especially in these days. Thanks for a lift!

  2. Ellie Lizotte

    You are a true ambassador of hope for us, by sharing your encounters with those who are the heart of this great nation. This love that Wilbert and Nora have for each other is a lesson for us to show our appreciation and love everyday. I appreciate your insights into the lives you are touching and vice versa. What a glorious journey you are on. Stay Safe. ellie

  3. Lori

    To see you reminding others, there is hope always.
    Am so happy you seen love that never ages or fades
    but only grows stronger as time passes

    safe safe

  4. Julia Scott

    I am the nurse at Prairie High School (I’m better known as Nurse Scott) and I am also an active reservist as a flight nurse in the AF Reserves at Joint Base Lewis McChord in Tacoma Washington. I cannot tell you how proud I was of be with the students who came out to cheer you on. I’m very involved with the school’s JROTC program and all the students know of my military service. Also, I was Jeremiah Johnson’s and Cedric Brun’s school nurse and readily and proudly have sponsored them on your web site. I am still keenly aware of the sacrifice they made for their country and I make sure that the current students at Prairie know about them. I was also very honored to see you and follow your progress daily. God Bless You with your journey – I will be deployed when you finish in the fall (deployment #5!) but you better believe I will be following your trek. You are a true inspiration to many.

  5. nancy

    Your story of Wilbert and Nora very closely parallels my own parents. Also married in 1944 during a 3 day leave before he shipped off to Germany. My dad was a prisoner of war for a short time before being liberated. My mother also has health problems that make mobility and feeding herself difficult. My dad takes good care of her. I think these stories say a lot about our society then and now.

    I appreciate your commitment to honor our military men and women. Take care and Godspeed.

  6. Suzi


  7. Adele Bachman

    These people are the ones that make up the base fabric of our country. They are the unknown wonderful people we all desire as neighbors. Thanks for ringing them out.

  8. Annie and Mike

    Mike, I just read your article on Aunt Nora and Uncle Wilbert, and it truly brought tears to my eyes. We feel so blessed to have had you stay with us and have you meet them. Safe travels to you and we will be tracking you daily. Safe travels

  9. Kristi Cysewski

    Thank you for such a tribute to my Great Uncle Wilbert and Great Aunt Nora. They mean so much to my family and I. Wilbert (W.J.) and Nora have been and will continue to be a major part in my life, as well as my families. I am so thankful that you had a chance to meet Wilbert, such a great man…… in many ways he is a lot like my Grandpa Gene who recently pasted away( Who was also in World War II). I miss him terribly!!! Wilbert and Gene were the best of brothers, pals, comrads and enemies (brotherly love I suppose). Great Uncle Wilert’s service and Granpa Gene’s service is the foundation that our country is based upon. Your blog brought to tears to my eyes…. Thank you.

  10. desiree

    so precious mike….if only you could truly bottle it and people would drink it in, how beautiful this world would be….i have to believe that the people you are meeting along the way are the best gifts in you r day….you continue to make a difference mike and that is beautiful in itself……ps….we did “GMRAS” this weekend and thoughts of special memories past were shared amongst those that admire you mike for all you do….be safe my friend and still anticipate your midwest homecoming!

    hugs, d

  11. Audrey M. Blackmon

    Hi Mike! I am Wilbert (Joe) and Nora’s first born daughter and have no idea how to express to you how you so perfectly expressed their ever lasting love for each other. Their Love and support did not stop there. Myself and my younger sister where always in that loop as well. They always thought first of us. Anything we wanted to do (within reason :-)), they supported and volunteered to be a helping part of whatever School, Sports or activity we where interested in. They gave us the gift of being ourselfs, we always had lots of fun activities together and grow stronger as a family with the sad times every family has. When we where young, Dad did not talk much about the war and when he was asleep in his chair, we had to be carful not to wake him, some of his war memories hauted him.
    But those days have long ago faded. He soon became loving and warm with his new young family. He is in pretty darn healthy today and takes such good care of Mom.

    Thank You for letting other people know our story. I’m sure, there are many, many families just like ours. So, keep doing what you do and we will keep you close to our hearts.

    Audrey Blackmon


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