Old Love Letters in a Box ...Glimpses into History and a Soul
This years Christmas gift from the two of them was a total surprise. My mother pulled out a very well worn brown paper box that had that tanned look of age to it and instructed me to look inside. After opening it I saw a ton of news paper clippings on top and a small book inside. It turns out that it was news paper clippings from World War II that my grandmother had clipped and saved along with my Father's army book with one of his medals, photographs from Saipan and personal notes that he had written while over there. Further under this treasure were some old letters neatly folded and two pieces of tissue paper with lipstick prints on them. The love letters were written by my Grandmother during the war, and along with them were several poems and sketches that she had done. She used to want to be an artist when she was in her 20's and was quite good at charcoal sketches. Back then they had no money so she used brown paper from grocery bags and would sketch all sorts of scenes. Women in fancy dresses, men in uniform, scenes from history, and all sorts of interesting things would be sketched out in lead pencil or charcoal. One letter had a man and a woman about to kiss and she had written a love poem at the bottom of it. The lip prints, as it turns, out, were hears and were included in the love letters.
Still, further down in the pile, were photos of Japanese soldiers and a group picture of a Japanese family. My father told me that they had been taken from a dead soldiers body in Saipan. There was also and old Japanese Yen and some coins in the bottom of the box.
I started to tear up. To see my Grandmothers thoughts spilled out on paper and to see prints of her lips was a very powerful thing for me. I sat and imagined what it was like to have someone away for that long and not know if they were dead or alive. It must have been a horrible and anxiety ridden existence for many years. She faithfully wrote letters and mailed them to keep in touch. There were a few from my Father and he also had made a few sketches. I wasn't even aware that my father could draw!
There was also a clipping of her sister's husband and beneath it was a notice that he was being held as a prisoner of war by the German army. I am sure that it was a relief because he was presumed dead for many months prior to that. I remember my Grandmother telling me that he was kept in a cage and tortured and looked like a skeleton when he was finally released after the war.
Her love letter gave me a glimpse, not only into history, but it allowed a view deep into her soul. My Grandmother was a very stoic woman when I knew her. She could come across as being somewhat cold at times and had a rather unique way of looking at things. I remember when her own Mother died, when I was a young boy. She never shed a tear that I saw. She said that her Mother was in a better place and it was a time to rejoice, not to be sad. At the time, being young, I didn't understand at all. Her letter allowed me to see that very scared, very heart sick, young 20 something girl who was terrified that any given day she would receive a telegram or a post saying that her husband was dead or missing in action. How heart breaking it must have been for a young bride to go through this. Day after day, wondering, longing for the touch of someone she loved who could be killed at any given moment. She kept hope, it never wavered. I would have lost my mind. She deserved a medal for being a war bride.
My Grandmother suffered a lot of heart ache in her life and I think was hurt pretty badly. At some point that 20 something scared girl changed and became tough as nails. This letter spoke volumes about her life. That she had a soft romantic side to her that she rarely ever showed, except in private. It also told me how much she loved my Father. Letters like these are something that cannot come from anywhere else but from deep down inside.
Again, this is what Christmas is supposed to be about.....gifts from the heart! I cant say it enough, if you have someone you love dearly, hold them tight tonight and enjoy the holiday for what it truly was meant to be, about love and memories, and giving from the heart.
A transcription of her exact letter follows.
Dated Jan 16th (circa 1940)
"I leaned across ten thousand miles and kissed you
and held you in my arms just once again
and as we kissed, I whispered how I miss you
and brushed away the tears that fell like rain.
Although I am far away from you tonight dear,
and many many miles are in between,
I leaned across ten thousand miles and kissed you
for there's no miles between us in my dreams."
Marjorie Aline Anderson
The letter that followed....
How is my dear one tonight? I sure hope OK as you were in your letter.
Your wife is just fine you may be sure, and thinking of you and loving you so very
much Sweets. I do kiss you honey, in my dreams. Even the miles between us cant
keep us apart, can they, because we have our love and our dreams. Its so nice to know that
you are dreaming of me Sweets."
I miss you dearly and you deserved a war medal back then too. Thanks for helping me become the person that I am. For your love of nature, for your love of art, and most of all....just for your love for me.
May you rest in peace and eternal light,
Posted by Michael Bell at 5:46 PM