Jul 01, 2024

Twist of Fate: Love Lost in War Rekindled in Retirement

I met Billy and Ellen when visiting the independent retirement units; they invited me for a coffee, and Billy asked me if I would like to hear their story.

I was eager to listen to what they were about to tell me. Billy proudly informed me that it all began when he was seventeen years old, and his desire to become a soldier, following in his father’s footsteps, who had courageously fought in World War Two.

The Vietnam War was still raging when Billy signed up for a tour of duty in the army. Three weeks before he was due to be flown out with the first group of soldiers called the Queens Own Highlanders, he met Ellen in the local pub.

Their eyes met across the bar, and Billy plucked up the courage to ask if she would like a drink; Ellen recalls she asked for a Campari and lemonade, a grown-up drink as she always thought. 

A romance soon blossomed when they realised they had so much in common with each other; they became engaged, and when the time came for Billy to go to war, he was undecided between his desire to fight in Vietnam or to stay with his lovely Ellen.

It was a hard decision claiming was made on a flip of a coin, reflecting that this was such a flippant way to make such a life-changing choice. Billy proposed marriage, and they became engaged the day before he left.

The platoon was involved with carrying out security and patrol duties while also providing intelligence support for airstrikes against North Vietnamese targets. 

Ellen received a telegram six weeks later saying that Billy had been reported as missing in action and believed to be dead. The devastating news broke Ellen’s heart; she buried her head in her work as a nurse as she tried to rebuild her life without Billy.

Ellen met Greg five years later when she travelled to Sydney on a nurse’s exchange program. They dated and were married in a small chapel in the Hunter Valley.

They moved to Berry in NSW and had two sons, Tobey and Shaun; Ellen added they had a good life until Greg suffered a major heart attack at the age of fifty-six and died three days later, leaving Ellen alone in the world again.

The boys had since moved overseas and had their careers to keep them occupied. The four-bedroom house became too much for Ellen to manage, so she chose to downsize from the four-bedroom house and move into a supported retirement village.

Two years later, her neighbour opposite passed away, and a new occupant moved in. Ellen saw glimpses of this handsome man briefly each morning as he walked his dog; the man seemed vaguely familiar, although she couldn’t place where she knew him from.

Ellen made a batch of her famous pumpkin scones and took them over to introduce herself; she discovered his name was Bill and that he had been living overseas for over thirty years. 

Later that evening, Ellen was puzzled about her new neighbour and how she recognised him. He was not forthcoming about his past, and she didn’t feel she could easily question him so soon after the meeting. As the days and weeks passed by, Ellen began to get to know Bill and attempted to ask more about where Bill had lived over the years. 

Bill had been living in Thailand, marrying a local girl who had left him for a younger man; he then met and married an Australian tourist and settled in Brisbane. Sadly, his wife passed away and that prompted Bill to move into the retirement village.

One morning over coffee, Ellen brought up the subject of her first love, Billy and how he was missing in action in the Vietnam War. Bill promptly said he had fought in Vietnam and was injured, suffering memory loss, and left for dead in the jungle.

Bill had little recollection of the past events until Ellen had unlocked that part of his memory. Tears came to Bill’s eyes when he realised this was his Ellen from all those years ago. They rekindled their love for each other as Ellen filled in the gaps in their past life.

A twist of fate had brought them together, and they vowed never to be separated again. Ellen tells me that Billy was the love of her life, her destiny and that she never forgot the deep, passionate love she held so deeply for him, hoping he would return to her one day.

They rekindled their love affair by going on dates to the movies and weekends away in Sydney. They returned from Sydney one weekend as husband and wife and have never been apart since.

“If two hearts are meant for each other, fate will bring them together, no matter how far they are or how impossible it seems”. – purelovequotes.com

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  1. Another wonderful story, can’t believe how Ellen & Billy reconnected, coincidence or what? So enjoy reading your wee stories Michael.

  2. What a lovely feel-good story, I too believe in fate. The author has a great writing style. Thank you!

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