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Lonely Hearts Healed



Today’s SoCS prompt from Linda is:

“ends with -ly.” Start your post with any adverb (oops) that ends in “-ly.” Bonus points if you end with an adverb too. Have fun!

I choose lonely. It’s not that I choose to be lonely. I’m not lonely anymore. I like to be alone with the dogs, writing and puttering around the house. But I was lonely for a partner, oh, ten or so years ago. Except that I didn’t want a partner who added stress  to my life, so I waited and learned to trust the timing. I’m still learning that with other things in my life and realizing what a gift it is to have this time to work on my parents’ old house while our house gets finished and we get to paint the walls!

I’ve been reading the letters my mother wrote to my father when he was in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba after having served 13 months in Vietnam. Her letters are very enlightening and sometimes uncomfortable since they are personal. She writes about how lonely she is and how much she misses him and how she (and us girls) can’t take more separations. I’m learning about how she would find me up reading at 2 am on a school night and how my sister and I were, “sassy.” We were 10 and 12. I was a big tomboy 12 year old. I know now that most 12 year old girls are sassy.  Sorry mom.

My mom was sick a lot and so was my little sister. Mom writes about a cough that won’t go away. I’ve gotten through January and part of February 1968, and she’s still coughing to the point of exhaustion. I resented my mother being sick so much with migraines and nervous break downs when dad was in Vietnam and I was 11. These letters are giving me more compassion as I read her inner struggles of taking care of a home and two sassy girls and missing her man. It also dawned on me that the contaminated drinking water at Camp Lejeune/Tarawa Terrace probably didn’t help her get well. There’s a big thing about that now, but I’ve read many claims have been denied. My parent’s died of “natural causes” in their eighties, but I bet that water contributed to some health problems even if it didn’t kill us.

Dad used to talk to me in his later years about Vietnam and GTMO. Awful stuff. Horrible stuff that gave him nightmares for the rest of his life. After Vietnam, he came home for three months, and then they sent him to GTMO for five months. He told me he drank a lot while in Cuba. He had PTSD before they called it that. A chaplain helped him. I wish I knew his name and could thank him if he’s still alive. Thank you anyway, Chaplain who served at GTMO and helped my dad. I think he needed this time in Cuba maybe to begin to process Vietnam – a job that would never be finished. It was so hard on my mom and him. The separations put a lot of pressure on their marriage.  ( I didn’t know this until I started reading mom’s letters.)

And yet they made it through. Their deep love and their strong faith helped them through the maze and mess of PTSD and all the other challenges life threw at them. I did know that they were very much in love. They were married for over 50 years and still got smoochy sometimes. Dad used to sing to mom, “I love you, a bushel and a peck, a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.”

Love and faith and time overcome loneliness. When we are lonely, God loves us no matter what. And dogs too. 😉  I’m reminded of one of my favorite poems from Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese.”

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely, the world offers itself to your imagination….”      Mary Oliver

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

I’ve probably shared the lonely people song at least a couple of times before on this blog, but it means a lot to me, so here it is again with different pictures.





PS: I now realize that I didn’t follow the prompt corrrectly since Linda asked for an adverb and lonely is an adjective.  Letting it be is my goal here. This is progress for a recovering rule follower/people pleaser.

To learn more or join in the stream,  visit Linda at:

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. I will post the prompt here on my blog every Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The,’” or will simply be a single word to get you started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours. Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read all of them! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later or go to the previous week by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!

Author: JoAnna

An open minded, tree-hugging Jesus follower, former counselor, and life-long lover of animals, I'm returning to my creative roots and have published my first book: Trust the Timing, A Memoir of Finding Love Again as well as the short version: From Loneliness to Love.

29 thoughts on “Lonely Hearts Healed

  1. You’re finding some beautiful treasures in your parent’s stuff. I’m sure they’d appreciate knowing you took the time to read their tales of those years. What a beautiful tribute to their love story!

  2. I think you did a great job, JoAnna. It’s always interesting to discover things about our parents. I feel bad for your dad. No one came home from that war without problems.

  3. It’s hard to go back and relive hard times through the eyes of people you love without letting your own feelings get in the way, but it’s worth it, isn’t it? Those letters are a pearl of great price.

  4. I really enjoy reading about your ongoing story with your parents and your seeing through their eyes. It’s like you are doing time-travel and deep healing in the most fun way.

    The titles of your posts often attract me here because I don’t make it to all of them, unfortunately. I was just thinking of a book I read when I was a child called “The heart is a Lonely Hunter,” and I was thinking of it because another book I read as a child called “Where the Red Fern Grows” about two coon hounds and a young boy raising money for his family and his adventures learning about all sorts of things near the Ozarks, was a memory triggered by one of Brad’s from WritingtoFreedom’s recent posts.

    I enjoyed listening to the Lonely People song, even if you had posted it before, I had not caught it until now.

    Yes I can imagine that most 12 year old girls were sassy. But the word and concept of sassy and expectations for women’s behavior are changing. We want assertiveness in our women nowadays! I think it’s so neat that you get to “re-live” these sometimes challenging experiences through these letters.

    My father was in Vietnam, and he’s still alive, in his early 70s, I don’t recall any letters exist. Also my parents hadn’t met until later on their timelines. I think it’s great that your parents left you so much 💗. I truly feel how much they loved you, and each other. I feel it deeply. Thanks again for such a rich share.

    • As I neared the end of your comforting comment, I felt and feel deep gratitude for such a rich response. It does feel like time travel when I’m in the midst of reading a long letter or working on the novel based on my parents which is currently during their courtship. At the very least it’s an altered state of consciousness. Thank you so much for this and for the deep healing perspective. I need to remember this and breathe deeply when it gets uncomfortable. But mostly it is fun and exciting, like uncovering buried treasure. Thank you so much for your support and understanding. ❤

  5. Thanks for going with adjective. Your post is heartfelt and touching. The poem is a perfect touch as is the song. 💕

  6. What a priveledge and pain of reading their letters. To hear her perspective of home life, her troubles. It must have been difficult and yet a blessing.

  7. Letters are gold! I have written about my love of letters and the written word many times. Oh, and the Bushel and a Peck song, one of my family favorites. ❤️

    • Yes, they are. Thanks for that perspective. Sometimes I look at the size of the stack and feel a little overwhelmed, but I’ve decided to read letters written in February in February and so on. I’m glad you recognize that song. I used to sing it to my kids.

  8. Beautiful post, JoAnna. As kids, we can be unaware of and insensitive to the struggles our parents face. I’m so glad that you’ve gotten the chance to learn about the challenges that both your mother and father faced.

    I noticed immediately that you chose an adjective instead of an adverb, but your word choice did end in “ly” 🙂

  9. This is a loving post. I love this sorta post. I had never read that poem, and I loved it, JoAnna, thanks.
    I wonder if our kids will find compassion and understanding when they read our letters. We have a Sassy, lol — she was born that way, but yes, all girls tend to have at least a sassy phase. I’m sure it was difficult for your mother to hold your family together in your father’s absence because I’ve done it. Even without lead water and a bad cough, it wears on your spirit, which wears on your body. By the by, The Mister tells me the water fountains etc etc are all labeled as Caution Lead all over Camp Lejeune.

  10. It’s such a gift when we can see our parents from a different perspective.

    And that poem…it makes me think about how we often make life harder than it has to be. We make ourselves feel lonely, don’t we?

  11. This is a striking post, JoAnna. My dad served in Vietnam and doesn’t talk about it with me. Maybe with my brother since he’s in the navy now, but not with me. I’m always shocked when he makes an offhand comment about that time in his life — everyone came back changed by it.

    • My dad told me once he had to stop talking about it because it made the nightmares worse, but he’d still let something come to the surface now and then, especially in his last years. He would also talk with a friend he served with. They shared history. My heart goes out to all those who live with these memories.

  12. Ah! Joanna! Thank you so much for sharing such personal memories. Your understanding and softening is a beautiful thing. It is amazing how once we have more information we can soften our hearts. You got me with the Bushel and a Peck song…my Mom always sang that to us 😟
    Sweet blessings, my friend 💜

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