Reconnecting with your first crush isn’t easy — especially when you’re 93!
But Norwood Thomas has, after more than seven decades apart.
He was an American soldier stationed in London when he met the love of his life — a beautiful 17-year-old English rose named Joyce Durrant in the spring of 1944.
“I was out with a friend, and we had our eyes out for young ladies,” said Norwood, a veteran of the elite 101st Airborne Division in World War II.
“We were on a bridge crossing the Thames when we looked down and saw these fine young ladies.”
The longtime Virginia Beach, Va., resident added: “I fell in love with the way she smiled.”
The two dated for months, but Norwood was called to duty for the D-Day invasion, when his unit parachuted behind enemy lines in France.
“I remember that after I went back to the U.S., we corresponded via letters and I did send her a couple of gifts,” he said.
Norwood even asked his sweetheart to come to the United States and “be my wife,” but she broke his heart.
“She said she couldn’t and that she was just getting into nurse’s training,” he said.
A devastated Norwood bounced back to marry a “very wonderful” local girl who he said gave him “the best 56 years of his life” before passing away from lymphoma in 2001 at age 75.
After losing his beloved wife, Norwood was haunted by memories of the girl who got away so long ago.
“Joyce had always been on the fringes of my thoughts this whole time,” he said.
In an amazing coincidence, Joyce — now 88, divorced and living in Australia — asked her son to find her lost love through the Internet in September.
Norwood wasn’t hard to find. He had been in the news for skydiving at age 88, his first jump since the war — and then did it again on his next two birthdays!
Joyce’s son, Rob, contacted Norwood’s son, Steve, and the two schemed for the star-crossed lovers’ first reunion in 71 years — on Skype!
“I told her that I put her on a pedestal,” Norwood gushed. “And there she stayed.”
Until now. A GoFundMe campaign has raised over $4,000 to put Norwood back on a plane — to Australia! His bags are packed, and his itinerary is planned.
“The first thing I’d do?” he said. “Well, I’d give her a hug!”