With Love, Wherever You Are

With Love, Wherever You Are

by Dandi Daley Mackall

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Overview

Everyone knows that war romances never last . . .
After a whirlwind romance and wedding, Helen Eberhart Daley, an army nurse, and Lieutenant Frank Daley, M.D. are sent to the front lines of Europe with only letters to connect them for months at a time.

Surrounded by danger and desperately wounded patients, they soon find that only the war seems real—and their marriage more and more like a distant dream. If they make it through the war, will their marriage survive?

Based on the incredible true love story, With Love, Wherever You Are is an adult novel from beloved children’s author Dandi Daley Mackall.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496421227
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Publication date: 03/07/2017
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 644,746
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author


Dandi Daley Mackall is the award-winning author of nearly 500 books for children and adults. She visits countless schools and presents keynote addresses at conferences across the United States. Her novel My Boyfriends’ Dogs is now a Hallmark movie. Dandi writes from rural Ohio, here she lives with her family. Visit her online at dandibooks.com.

Read an Excerpt

With Love, Wherever You Are

A Novel


By Dandi A. Mackall, Sarah Mason Rische

Tyndale House Publishers

Copyright © 2017 Dandi A. Mackall
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4964-2122-7


CHAPTER 1

Helen


Evanston, Illinois

Dec. 7, 1941

What now? Helen Eberhart elbowed her way through the mass of student nurses crowding the hospital bulletin board. If she were in charge, she would come up with a better system for assigning duties and shifts. Couldn't this top-notch hospital afford more than one bulletin board, at the very least? Student nurses had to check several times a day, and heaven help the would-be nurse who missed one duty, one time change, one announcement.

She scanned the list until she got to her name. "Swell," she muttered. Extra duties and extra hours. When was she supposed to study for her anatomy test?

She turned and stood on tiptoes to relay the bad news to her roommate. At five feet eight, half a foot taller than Helen, Lucille was easy to spot. "Lucille! Get coffee! We've both pulled extra —"

"Shhh! Shush, everybody!"

Helen wasn't sure who'd said it, but the whole group quieted to a murmur. The PA system crackled and screeched — another thing she'd see to if she ever got to run things. Two white-jacketed interns strutting up the hall stopped and stared at the metal loudspeaker as if waiting for God — or the chief of staff — to issue at least ten commandments.

True, they didn't get many announcements, but Helen didn't have time to gawk at a disembodied voice. "Coming through!"

"Quiet!" Nurse Benchley frowned at her.

Helen didn't appreciate being shut down. If Benchley weren't one of her instructors, she wouldn't get away with it either.

"... Hawaii from the air."

She'd missed the announcement, but she caught enough to know this wasn't a page from the chief of staff. The hospital was relaying a radio broadcast.

"Just a moment. ... I'll repeat that."

The hallway froze, interns transformed into wax statues with identical stunned expressions. Old Dr. Laban, his glasses crooked as always, dropped his arms to his sides like broken twigs snapping from a tree trunk. His clipboard dangled from one hand. Everybody seemed to move farther away from Helen, although nobody had budged. Sound froze too, leaving an eerie silence decibels below hospital-zone quiet.

Only the voice from the loudspeaker filled the hall, filled the hospital, filled the world:

"President Roosevelt says the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii from the air...."

Helen couldn't hear any more because suddenly the silence became a buzz. She thought the buzz must be in her head, growing louder and louder, like locusts in Cissna Park on a summer's night.

Then the space around her exploded in cries and questions fired at random, aimed at nobody. The chaos was so rampant that Helen would have believed it if someone told her a bomb had struck the hospital.

"Did they say bombs? Actual bombs dropped on us?"

"I can't believe it!"

"Dear God in Heaven!"

"Where's Pearl Harbor?"

"They'll come here next. You'll see. What do we do now?"

"Chicago will be a target for sure."

"I want to go home!"

"Jimmy's in the July draft. What if they send him over there?"

"So we're at war? I mean officially at war?"

"I always thought it would be the Germans. Why Japan?"

The questions bounced off Helen. She wouldn't let them in. Not yet. Not when she was so close to becoming a real nurse. War would ruin everything. Besides, as long as she could remember, there had been wars somewhere, or people talking about them.

Her war had been to make a tin of corn bread stretch for a family of thirteen during the worst days of the Depression. Her battles had been standing up to big brothers who weren't so sure she belonged in their family and to a father who said her place was on the farm, not learning how to take care of sick strangers in Chicago.

"Helen? Did you hear me?" Lucille shouted above the cacophony of voices that echoed in the halls. She elbowed her way to Helen's side. "Come on. They're showing us where the bomb shelters are."

The crowd of nurses and doctors and patients flowed like floodwaters down the hall toward the stairwell. Lucille got pulled in with them, but not Helen. She shoved in the opposite direction, a lone fish swimming upstream.

"Hey! Where are you going, Eberhart?" Lucille shouted after her.

"Where do you think?" Helen called back. "I've got extra duty. I'll be in room 301 if you need me!"

"Helen!"

"Nurse? This way." An intern grabbed her arm and tried to spin her around and take her with him.

She jerked her arm away. Nothing was going to stop her. Not him. Not the Japanese. Not Roosevelt. Not the Germans.

She was going to graduate from nurse's training. She had come here to live in a city where people danced to the big bands and wore furs like women on the covers of magazines. But most of all, she'd come to be a nurse, the best nurse Chicago had ever seen.

Helen Eberhart had known since she was nine years old what she'd do with her life. It had been a drizzly fall day when she'd hurried home after school, as usual, to do her chores.

"Look out, Gypsy!" Her brother Eugene rammed her from behind, nearly knocking her off her feet. They were both small for their age, but he was two years older, wiry and tough.

"You look out!" She didn't mind being called Gypsy, not anymore. She'd never really believed her brothers when they told her gypsies left her on their doorstep when she was a baby.

"Race you home!" Eugene shouted, passing her on the left.

Helen hiked up her skirt and ran, following Eugene through the Weinigers' lawn, over the flower beds, and up the street to home. But her brother the athlete pulled farther and farther ahead.

She was breathing hard by the time she reached home and spotted Eugene in the garden, standing by the roses. "Guess I win!" she shouted, heading for the back door, the official end of every race.

Eugene didn't move. Helen thought he was shivering, but that was dumb. It was stove-hot outside. She called to him, but he didn't answer.

"What's the matter with you?" She plodded back to the garden, braced for one of his tricks. "Eugene? Why are you standing —?"

And that's when she saw her mother. Ma was lying on the ground, one leg twisted under her, her hand still wrapped around cut roses. A dark pool spread around her, a growing red puddle shaping the dirt beneath her legs. From one leg, bright-red blood spurted like a fountain being shut off and on.

"Ma!" Helen dropped to her knees and held her mother's head in her lap. Mom's lips moved, but nothing came out. Her mother's kind brown eyes twitched. There was too much white in them.

Helen shouted, "Call Dr. Roberts!" Eugene didn't move. His cheeks were wet from crying. "Eugene, go call the doctor!"

He dropped to his knees.

Helen set down her mother's head and barked orders at her brother. "You wait with her, hear?" She didn't stick around for an answer but tore into the house, up half a flight of stairs to the kitchen. She cranked the phone on the wall and screamed into it, "Get me Dr. Roberts! Fast!"

"'Lo?" came Doc's slow, deep voice. "Dr. Roberts here."

"Dr. Roberts, this is Helen Eberhart. You have to come. Quick!"

"Which one is it? What's the matter?"

"It's Ma, Doc! She's bleeding. Her leg. She's in the garden and —"

"You listen to me now, Helen. I'm coming right over. Can you see the wound still bleeding?"

"It's spurting up. There's so much blood." She wouldn't cry. She couldn't cry.

"It's her veins. And we need to stop that bleeding before I get there. Is Ed home? Or the twins?"

"There's just me." She couldn't count on Eugene.

"All right then," he said, like he'd just then decided something. "You'll have to do. I want you to get a dime and take it to where that blood's spurting."

Helen knew he wanted her to say something. But her heart was pounding too hard in her ears.

"Helen, can you do this? I know you won't like the blood, honey."

"It's not that. Where am I going to find a dime?"

"You find it. That's all. I need you to press a dime to your mother's leg where it's bleeding. A penny won't do. Too thick. You get a dime, and you press it hard. Now go!"

She heard the phone click and dropped the receiver. It slapped against the wall.

A dime. A dime? You didn't find change in this house. Not under cushions. Not sitting on tables. Dear Gott im Himmel, where on earth am I going to —?

Then she remembered. The jingle in her dad's coat pocket, his Sunday coat. She could almost hear it, like the angels in heaven ringing their bells.

Helen tore into her parents' room, where she was only allowed when it was her turn to dust. There was the coat hanging over the back of the door. She had to stand on tiptoes to reach the pocket. Please, God!

She felt something. "Got it!" She drew out three pennies and a dime. Clutching the dime in her scrawny fingers, she raced back to the garden. "I'm coming, Ma!" She slid to the ground, tearing her stockings on the rosebush. The blood. How could there be so much blood in one leg? The red fountain continued to spurt. Helen took the dime and forced it through the blood onto her mother's leg. The coin slid against the red-drenched skin, but she pushed it hard, thumb on top of thumb. Blood oozed around the sides of the coin. Then it stopped.

"Ma, you're going to be okay," she whispered. "You're not bleeding now. Dr. Roberts is on his way."

Her mother twitched. Her dress was blood-soaked. Ma only had two dresses: this one and the one for Sundays. Her eyes rolled back, and her lips fluttered like moth wings. Helen imagined prayers coming from those lips, secret pleas and exchanges with God that her mother would never reveal.

Helen's fingers pushed hard against the dime. Blood and sweat made the coin slippery, but she kept it over the hole. She pressed so hard that her fingers began to ache. Her mother's red hair had come unpinned, and strands, redder still from the blood, clung to her cheek. Helen wanted to cradle Ma's head in her lap, to smooth the hair off her face, the way Ma had done for her when she had the fever.

But she couldn't let go of the dime.

"Eugene, help me hold this on her leg. I can't do it any longer."

Eugene didn't move. He stayed kneeling in the dirt, his fists rammed to his mouth.

Furious, Helen started to scream at him. Then she saw his eyes, wide with a terror that made his whole body shake. She took a deep breath, filled with the scent of roses, peonies, mums ... and blood. "She'll be okay, Eugene. I promise, Genie. She will."

Her brother crept closer, then stopped. "I can't do it," he whispered.

And he couldn't. She knew that the same way she'd known that dime would be in Dad's coat pocket. The same way she knew she could keep the pressure on as long as she had to. "It's okay. Go out to the road and flag down Doc Roberts."

He took off at a run. Helen pressed on the dime, not letting it slip a hair to either side. The hole wasn't bleeding anymore, but she wasn't about to stop. Helen loved her mother, and Ma loved her. She knew that without it ever being said. She also knew that every one of the kids believed their mother loved him or her best.

What kind of talent, or love, was it that made everybody think you loved them best?

Helen's thumbs went numb. Her nose itched. Her hands and arms ached. How long could it take for Doc to drive a mile and a half?

Finally, she heard the old Ford crawl up and Eugene scream, "He's here, Helen! Doc! This way! She's in the garden." Doc and Eugene both came running.

Dr. Roberts squatted next to Helen, and still she was afraid to stop pressing down on the dime. "It's okay," he said. "You can let go now."

She looked up at him. His hat was crooked. Sweat stained his shirt under his arms. "Are you sure?"

He placed his big, rough hands over hers, then tugged her fingers away from the wound. "See there? You stopped that bleeding all on your own, girl."

It was true. Nothing came out of the pinprick hole in the large purple vein of the leg. Helen pulled down her mother's dress and straightened her apron. "Will she be all right?"

Ma groaned and said something Helen couldn't make out.

"I'm here, Mary." Doc lifted Ma's head and fingered one eyelid open, then the other. "You lie still now. Let me bandage that leg. We're going to have to do something about those varicose veins of yours. I warned you this could happen. One prick, one bump, and that vein could open again." He unbuckled his bag, took out a roll of bandages, and began wrapping the leg with the skill of Ma sewing school clothes.

By the time Doc had the leg wrapped, Ma was struggling to get up. "Thank you, Dr. Roberts. I'm fine now." Her voice sounded pinched, words squeezed through a hole. "Who found me?"

Helen felt the doctor's hand on her head. "Your Helen found you, and it's a good thing she did. You'd have bled to death if it hadn't been for little Helen here."

"Eugene and I both found you." Helen tossed her brother a grin.

"Well, I hope I didn't give you a scare," Ma said.

"I'll tell you this, Mary. You've got a nurse here. I couldn't have stopped that bleeding any better myself." He squatted down to Helen's level. "Miss Helen, I'm going to make you a promise. I'll do everything I can to get you into nurse's training after high school."

Helen felt heat rise to her face. Except for Dr. Roberts and their teachers, of course, she didn't know anybody who'd gone to school past high school. She frowned up at him, unwilling to be teased. "Really, Dr. Roberts?"

"Really."

It was all the good Helen would ever need, hearing that. But there was more.

"Helen Marie Eberhart," Dr. Roberts said, helping her to her feet, "someday you'll go off to the best nurse's training in the country. Then you can come back here and be my nurse. How's that sound?"

Helen smiled. "It sounds good." Half of Doc's prophecy sounded better than good. She would become a nurse, the best nurse she could possibly be. But she wasn't coming back to Cissna Park, Illinois. There was a whole world out there, and she was going to be part of it.


Now, as Helen stood outside hospital room 301 and straightened her uniform, repinning her nurse's cap, she doubled the promise she'd made herself almost a dozen years ago. She was going to be a nurse. And she was going to see whatever there was to see in the world.

Maybe Eugene was right. Maybe she was a gypsy after all.


* * *

John Roberts, MD Cissna Park, Illinois 20 December 1941

Dear Helen ... or shall I say "Nurse Eberhart"?

I received your letter of 10 December and thank you kindly for taking the time to write it. I understand better than most, I believe, the arduous schedule and the dearth of free time imposed upon a young woman in pursuit of her nursing degree, which I have no doubt you will achieve with honors.

Allow me to express my heartfelt agreement with your decision to complete your training. Do not permit that heinous Japanese emperor the victory of thwarting your plans to become a nurse. Did you hear that Harold Messner was killed in that terrible act of aggression in the Harbor? They say his ship was sunk with hundreds of boys drowned or burned You probably knew Harold, Clive's oldest. He dropped out of school and enlisted in the Navy last spring. I delivered that boy on the Messners' kitchen table. His mother suffers heart palpitations, and I fear the depth of that poor womans grief.

I spoke with your own dear mother on Sunday following church. Your father was there, though not very talkative and rather eager to be off home. Marys worry over her boys shows in her countenance. Your brother Ed signed up the minute those bombs dropped in the Pacific. Left his tractor in the field and walked into town to enlist. Mrs. Messner said she saw him storming past their place on his way to the recruiting office, fist raised like he was looking for a fight. It's a wonder they took him with those eyes of his, but he says he's going to be an MP. I know your father would have preferred to keep his eldest down on the farm. But I can see Ed as military police, with his strong farm arms, can't you?

As for the twins, your mother reports that Wilbur enlisted, but Walter was turned down for his epilepsy. Your mother says it has hit him hard, but something tells me that brother of yours will find a way to serve his country. I've always liked the twins, even though they gave me a time at delivery.

Eugene is pressing to sign up, but your father will soon be in a wheelchair, and someone needs to farm. Eugene isn't Louis's first choice, but he has ruled that Eugene will farm, though sons no longer listen to fathers as they did in my day.

Take care, my little Nurse Helen.

Respectfully, Dr. John Roberts, MD


(Continues...)

Excerpted from With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi A. Mackall, Sarah Mason Rische. Copyright © 2017 Dandi A. Mackall. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Robin Lee Hatcher

Dandi Daley Mackall’s With Love, Wherever You Are is a stirring and emotional WWII novel. I became invested in the characters, seeing the war through their eyes and circumstances. I smiled often, and more than once, I cried. Already I miss spending time with Frank and Helen and the doctors, nurses, and patients who surrounded them, all of them ordinary people thrown into extraordinary and often painful circumstances. Put this novel on your Must Read list for 2017.

Ann Shorey

With Love, Wherever You Are, is a beautifully written novel. Based on a true story, Dandi Daley Mackall has created a gripping tale using as a framework the lives of a doctor and a nurse serving in Europe during World War II. The novel weaves historical accuracy with the heart-pounding suspense of a long-distance relationship during the worst of times. Not to be missed!

Sarah Sundin

Uplifting and endearing, With Love, Wherever You Are tells the real-life story of the romance between an Army doctor and nurse in World War II. With spunk and humor, Frank and Helen navigate the hardships, loss, and dangers of war. Dandi Daley Mackall paints a sweet but accurate picture, and I was hooked. Thoroughly engaging!

Hannah Alexander

Dandi Daley Mackall has written a masterpiece of true love forged in the harsh furnace of separation, terror, and deep longing as two amazing World War II heroes serve their country. The very real letters, written in the heat of battle, add richness and depth to this story, putting clarity to a living romance.

Julianna Deering

Dandi Mackall’s With Love, Wherever You Are is a wonderful, sometimes heartbreaking look at what it was like for young lovers, newlyweds, separated by a world at war with only their letters to keep them connected. Touching, romantic and oh, so real.

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