It is often said that a person never forgets their first love. No matter how much time passes, the memory of that special person remains. Even when life’s priorities change, there will always be moments when a person wonders where their former lover is and how they’ve fared.
For K.T. Robbins, a D-Day veteran, it took over 75 years to finally get answers about the woman who first stole his heart.
In 1944, a 24-year-old Robbins was stationed in Briey, a northeastern village in France. It was during his time there that he met then-18-year-old Jeannine Ganaye. According to the Irish Post, the pair met when Robbins was looking for someone to do his laundry, and Ganaye’s mother stepped up to help.
It didn’t take long before the American serviceman and the French teen became lovers.
Unfortunately for the war-time lovers, Robbins, was given a new assignment just two months later, forcing him to leave. His sudden departure for the Eastern Front made it impossible for him and Ganaye to continue courting.
“I told her maybe I’ll come back and take you, but it did not happen like that,” Robbins recalled.
Ganaye held out hope that the soldier would return once the war ended. She even learned basic English so she could communicate with Robbins.
“When he left in the truck I cried, of course, I was very sad,” Ganaye explained. “I wish, after the war, he hadn’t returned to America.”
Robbins also longed for his lover, keeping a black-and-white photograph of Ganaye with him.
Both Robbins and Ganaye moved on eventually. Upon returning home to Memphis, Robbins met his wife of 70 years, Lillian. As for Ganaye, she tied the knot with another man in 1949. The ex-lovers started their own separate families, with Ganaye welcoming five children over the years.
Still, neither could forget the bond they once shared.
“We had a good life together,” Robbins said of his late wife. “We were married 70 years, but this other thing [Ganaye] was still in my heart.”
Recently, Robbins showed the old photograph of his long-lost lover to reporters during the filming of a report on Veterans in the U.S. for France 2. Little did he know that the gesture would change his life.
Earlier this month, Robbins, now 97, was among the delegation of veterans who traveled to Europe to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. While in France, the journalists surprised him with the news that Ganaye was still alive and wanted to meet him.
More than seven decades later, the former lovers were reunited. They hugged, kissed and exchanged sweet sentiments.
“I always loved you. You never got out of my heart,” Robbins told Ganaye. He showed her the photograph he kept since all these years. Shocked, Ganaye replied, “Wow.”
Ganaye admitted that she wished Robbins returned to her village, but after the war, his circumstances changed.
“You know, when you get married, after that you can’t do it anymore,” Robbins said.
The couple spent a few hours together, before Robbins made his way to Normandy for the D-Day events. This time, he made sure to declare his love for Ganaye and make plans to meet up again soon.
Robbins, who now lives in Olive Branch, Mississippi, invited Ganaye and her children to visit him soon. Watch the sweet reunion in the video below: