The Closest Thing to a Wedding Photo That We Have

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The Closest Thing to a Wedding Photo That We Have

Gene and Lela.

This photo of my great grandparents was taken in 1948 shortly after their wedding. It’s the closet thing to a wedding photo we have. I love how happy they look, especially my great grandma Lela.

This was the start of a new life, a new and happier chapter. In 1942 at the age of 19, Lela fell in love with a man who was serving in the Army. Their courtship was quick and by that summer, they were married. They had the perfect life together until she found out that she was pregnant. When her husband found out about the baby, he vanished.

Alone and pregnant, Lela was forced by her alcoholic father to live in what she described as a mental hospital until the baby was born, and subsequently given up for adoption.

After Lela picked up the pieces of her life, she found employment as a waitress at a small diner. While she was working there, she met my great grandfather Gene.

They courted and married, but never had any children of their own. Then they started looking for her long-lost child. It wasn’t until 1965 that they finally found him.

By that time, Lela’s son (my grandfather) was a newlywed living in Illinois. They reconnected and because of that, I was lucky enough to get to know my great grandparents.

Gene and Lela had a storybook romance. Trips around the world, photo albums full of memories, and the family that they always wanted.

They were married just shy of 62 years when Lela died. Gene had been a victim of Alzheimer’s for nearly 10 years at that point. The day before Lela passed, we brought Gene to see her. The last words he said to her were, “If I don’t get to see you again, I’ll see you on the other side. I love you.” ~shared by @audiejames

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