True Stories: Marriage of Convenience–falling from the sky

dress 1Poland, 1944–World War II-Irena met Josef when he fell from the sky. What a way to meet! However, this romance-novel-in-the-making hardly got off the ground. After all, the beautiful girl from Poland was already in love with the man she’d married. Irena’s husband, a practical joker who adored his wife with every glance and touch, could never be replaced. He had been shot down in France, so Irena took her sisters in and the girls worked the farm together. It was difficult, but doable. Especially for a woman who needed to work off a burning anger toward the Germans.

But then a skinny, sensitive man with dark brown eyes dropped into her field. Josef was one of the few Jewish men who escaped a Hungarian ghetto before it was liquidated, stowing away in a small airplane’s cargo area. She was never sure how he managed to free himself from the plane, but she later called it a miracle that he did.

With this turn of events, Irena recognized a glimpse of God’s sovereignty, even in the death of her beloved husband.

Hauling the man into the house, the sisters discovered several broken ribs, a fractured ankle, and a crushed arm. Irena cared for the man, knowing he was Jewish. It would have cost her life–and her sisters’ lives–if he’d been found, but she never even considered that. And then, she saved his life in one more way. She gave him her husband’s identity papers. Not a problem, right? Just pieces of paper saying he was a different man, with a different name.

But soon the Germans flooded their area, becoming a daily presence in the village. They even commandeered many of the farms nearby for various war operations. Irena panicked. Her neighbors, quickly catching on to her lie, acted as though the new man had always been there. But constant surveillance meant Josef could no longer live in her barn–he had to actually pretend to be her husband.

So he did. With a heart made tender by Irena’s care, he escorted her about town, one hand always at her elbow. He brought her chickens to cook from the yard, handled the heavy farm work, and kissed her cheek with all the tenderness of a husband.

And soon the ploy worked too well–the Germans departed, but the couple were in love. Without even speaking the same language for many months, they had communicated through acts of kindness, service for each other, and simple smiles of appreciation. I suppose it’s true–what you do speaks more loudly than what you say.

The couple celebrated 51 years of marriage before Irena departed this earth.

*Names were changed to provide privacy.

Oh yes, and I am using Tara Yoakum’s lovely dress picture again, because it’s just awesome. 🙂