In October of 2011, When You Come Home by author Nancy Cavin Pitts hit bookshelves. The true-life novel, written about Nancy’s mother, was in response to Tom Brokaw’s The Greatest Generation, which featured Nancy’s mother, Daphne, and Daphne’s husband Raymond, who was killed in France during WW II. This is the story of how Nancy Cavin Pitts came to write her mother’s story, and the lessons learned along the way.
Today, we share with you the first of many blog posts written by Nancy about her journey as she wrote her mother’s story, and shared it with a nation.
Mom was born in 1919 on a farm outside of Lebanon, Indiana. Her father was a preacher and her mother, a housewife. Mom was the 10th child born to Albert and Maggie Abston. She was a little shy when she was younger, but became more confident and outgoing as she entered high school. After completing high school, Mom entered beauty college. Upon graduation, she began working as a beautician at the Ione Beauty Salon in Lebanon.
At age 22, Mom met Raymond Kelley at a Sunday School picnic. None of the boys in the town had interested her… until she met Raymond. A year later, Mom and Raymond married and settled down to start their life together in the little town of Lebanon. America had just entered the War the previous year, and in November of 1942, Raymond was drafted. Raymond was first sent to Fort Benjamin Harrison in Indianapolis for determination of assignment. As Raymond was sent to various Army camps throughout the U.S., Mom would travel to be with him on the weekends. Then in January, 1944, Raymond was sent to Italy.
Two months later, he was injured and sent to a field hospital to recuperate. In May, Raymond rejoined his unit and a few months later, they began moving towards France. In September, 1944, Mom received the telegraph that Raymond had been killed in the line of duty. She didn’t know what to do. She didn’t share her heartache much with her parents because they, too, were heartbroken at Raymond’s death. She couldn’t eat much, and got down to 84 pounds on her 5 foot frame. She became anemic and had to go to the doctor every week for iron shots. As the War ended, she gradually gained her health back and continued to work at the beauty shop. She worked long, hard hours at the shop, and refused to talk about the War with family or customers.
Eventually, her faith in the Lord and the support of her family restored Mom’s health and she was able to move on with her life. In 1950, she married Marvin Cavin and they had four children, including me, the baby of the family. In 1998, Mom was contacted by Tom Brokaw’s staff to interview for a segment entitled “Home of the Brave” on the NBC Nightly News. From there, the story of my mother and Raymond came pouring out, and the novel called When You Come Home was eventually born.
To read the entire story of Daphne Cavin and Raymond, purchase When You Come Home at Amazon, available both in-print and as a Kindle download.
When You Come Home is now available as an audiobook on Amazon!