I wonder if there is a sadness about all children that cause their Mother’s death upon on the birth of their own. Poge was such a child. He had a remarkable sadness about him and when he would laugh or really think some thing was funny one would feel so rewarded with his smile. Yet he had a quiet good humor about him.
Poge was my mother’s brother and there was 12 years age difference. So he was raised in our home as our older brother. He was bright,smart and the most avid reader I have ever known. We loved him in an extra special way. My mother told us they both had been abandoned by their father and though in later years they seemed to mend the hurt, I don’t believe that Marlyn Robert Rosenbalm ever healed from the pain of being the cause of his mothers death.
Poge was the strong silent type. But had a tender spot for us kids. He was tall, lean and raw boned and I remember riding on his shoulders. I was a chatty little kid and I would try get him to talk and he ‘d look over his book and give me one of his scowls and I’d just move on. Those deep blue eyes shining out from those dark eye brows was my signal to stop. It worked.
When the WW2 broke out he came to my mother and dad and told them that he had been to the recruiting office and he found out he could train to be a medic if he enlisted and maybe he should enlist before he was drafted. My mother had a fit when he told them. The three of them talked it over and over.
Poge drew my mother to a stand still when he said, “Billie you cannot make my decisions for me anymore. I am going to join the Army and that is that!” He turned on his heel and went upstairs to his room. My father held her back as she got up to follow him. We children came from the living wonder what was going on.
Bob asked,”Was that Poge yelling?” We had never heard him raise his voice to anyone--that was the way he was. He only spoke in that deep straight even tone. This was an event in our young lives. Poge yelled at mother!! Dad sent us back to the living room while he and mother talked. Later on we heard mother go to Poges room and they talked quietly.
We never heard any more about it until Poge told us the next day that our dad had driven him to Harvard to the recruiting office. And he had joined the army.
Bob said,”I’ll probably have to go as soon as I graduate.” I threw my arms around Page’s neck and cried. How could I live without Poge and my brother?
Mother talked to us with Poge and explained that someone else had made all of Poges decisions and he now wanted to make his own. He was right and he needed to do that. He wanted to help people and he felt that the Army would offer him good training. He soon received his orders to to report Camp Grant at Rockford,Illinois. He took his basic training in Fort Leonard Wood,Missouri and was home for a weeks leave and left for “points unknown” (which turned out to be England,France and Germany.)
My mother had a terrible time with Poges leaving and so did I. It seems like we both cried for days when we spoke of him. Eventually,we adjusted and got used to his weekly one page letter that told us a little about what was happening. He missed very few times in his twenty years of service life when he did not write my mother and if he did not write her he wrote me--where ever I was. In the Army he traveled all over the world. Bob and I had lived in Georgia for 2 years and he wrote me there.
He sent me a letter from Japan and told me he was sending me a little china. I received it over a period of of two weeks and it was a service of 12 with all of the serving pieces. It was so beautiful and I have now passed it on to my daughter. I never used that quiet gift but what I always thought of him.
In the years that followed he came in and out of our lives like smoke. He spent at least 30 days a year or more. He came quietly visited, and expressed love for us ; we did the same and he was gone. His room always left neat and tidy, awaiting his return.
Even after I was married and was raising my children. Then he would come home on leave and stay with our family. I was still his” little Sis.” We had a big old victorian house with a lot of space. I would let him sleep. And I would spoil him by cooking his favorite foods. All of his life he was very thin and wiry and it never changed that he could eat enough for two men and never put on an ounce.
When he was 39 he met younger friend of my mothers and they were married. She made a nice home for him when they were in service. They bought a home and they were going to retire in Sharon,Wi.
In 1959 my ex-husband was Sunday school superintendent at our local Methodist Church. Poge was home on leave and he and his wife went to church with us to the Christmas Sunday School Program.
The church was full and the program went off very well and my ex-husband got caught up in the spirit of the season and announced this invitation,”This has been such a great program, you are all invited to our house for coffee and Christmas cookies.”
My mouth dropped open and my mother asked,” Did you know he was going to announce that invitation?” I numbly said no. I hurried home and ask my Dad to bring 6 chairs. I had a 30 cup coffee maker and I put it on. Started taking all the cookies out of the freezer so they would thaw,got napkins and paper plates and all the extra stuff we needed. And sure enough,people filled our house, we had 90 people for coffee and cookies and we had a wonderful time.
That night Poge visited with people he hadn’t seen in years. He sat in our living room holding our daughter Robin (9 months old) and laughed and talked. He teased Bob about his announcement as we all did but Poge said that " was fun."
He and his wife went back to her folks to spend the night in Sharon, Wi. (They were waiting for their house to be repainted inside.)
That night Poge died in his sleep with a silent heart attack. Poge was 45 years old.