Most every night I have had the opportunity, actually a unique opportunity, to be with my parents in a sense who have both passed on. Mom died April 6, 2003 and my dad followed shortly behind on June 13, 2003. Those two days are of course embedded into my mind and will follow me when it comes my time to cross over.
So far I have typed into the computer (and saved on a flash drive) 60 letters from my mom to my dad during the period of 1937 thru 1944. And now I'm doing the same with my dad's letters. There are more letters from him at least 40 more, in fact last night I typed letter 43. I will eventually put them into a book format (both ebook and hard bound) for my kids and grandkids.
I do know while reading these letters I am getting glimpses into the man and the woman that I did not know while growing up in their home. The dad I know worked a lot of hours painting, roofing, and putting on siding. It was not an easy life for him but I can now see why he needed to be his own boss. During his service in the military he was not happy with the system. Probably because he should have been one of the higher ups giving the orders rather than taking them. My mom on the other hand was quite fragile, and from the bits and pieces of her life she did not have it easy from the time she was four years old up until my dad was finally discharged from the service.
It was not easy for anyone during that period when our country was at war. Rationing of much of what we take for granted: gas, sugar, flour, oil, etc., was not readily available for the folks on the homefront. A couple of my dad's letters had him spending Easter, Christmas, and his birthday alone, or in some cold unfriendly barracks, wishing for what he called my mom's "home-mades," namely homemade pasta. He loved his pasta!
My mom did not work outside the home. She stayed in a small apartment in Hartford (Albany Avenue) and often would go over to her sisters for both company and meals. Only a month before her death did my sister and I learned that she had spent time in an orphanage. We knew both of my maternal grandparents died within a year of each other; my grandmother from TB, my grandfather from the 1918 influenza that hit the world hard. We did not know she spent her childhood into adolescence inside that orphanage, explaining so many things to us why she lived in a state of anxiety, depression, and fear through our own formative years.
Yet from these letters I can see my dad and mom truly wanted to be together. Yes, there were problems in their relationship, especially after my mom's breakdown when my sister and I were only four. She disappeared from our own lives for a time and of course that has probably affected our own sense of an abandonment issue where we needed to deal with our own bouts of anxiety, depression, and fears.
But in the whole scheme of things mom and dad truly loved each other. They were married in 1938 and they passed on in 2003...65 years together.
I call this a true love story. They had very little while my dad served his country. Yet in his letters he promised her the house with the white picket fence, and whatever else she wanted. I remember growing up on the corner of Berkshire Road and Litchfield Place in Rocky Hill, Connecticut inside a small five room yellow ranch house (called tract housing.) And yes there was a pristine white picket fence that surrounded the small yard. Also what they called a wooded stockade fence covered in beautiful red roses.
I feel their presence quite strongly at times, and for me it comforts me especially knowing that they are together still. I'll continue to finish typing all of these letters and as I do they will continue to provide a great love story; a love story that many never get to enjoy because I think many quit on each other too soon.