Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Study of Schoolbooks & Shoes: A Very Special Love Letter

A Study of Schoolbooks & Shoes: A Very Special Love Letter

I just read this little story on Libby's blog. Libby was inspired by the contest Crane is running about treasured letters. Her story made me think of my own family's special letter.

My grandparents, though they loved one another dearly, were very different in several ways. While my grandfather was a sentimental pack rat, a trait I very proudly inherited and claim, my grandmother is a practical neat freak. When my grandfather died, my mother and her sisters tossed thousands of Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes forms and tax returns dating back to the days when my 60 year old aunt was an infant.

My grandfather served in the Navy as a meteorologist during the Korean War. My grandparents met while he was stationed near her home town and continued to date while he was "on the boat." My grandfather adored my grandmother and wrote her many letters telling her so. I asked my grandmother recently if she kept them and she quickly replied, "no, they were too mushy." "You didn't keep any!?" I asked her. "Just the one" she told me and then told me the story of my grandfather's proposal in a letter.

It's a sweet story, but it actually caused a bit of a squabble in his family because he entrusted my great grandmother with the task of giving her the letter and the ring. My great grandmother didn't consider asking her sister to be present for the moment and she was not happy about being excluded.

"Do you still have the letter?" I asked my grandmother.

"Yes." She told me.

"Where do you keep it?" I asked her.

"I'll never tell a soul," she said.

The practical person that I am, I thought that was so sweet, but worried that one day we'd lose track of this piece of family history.

On a recent trip to visit her in Indiana, my grandma and I began talking about the letter again. She brought it up and told me she'd found the letter and she got it out for me to read.

He described his love for her and how much he missed her. In it he said, "Alice Faye is singing our song." I could picture him laying on his neatly made military cot, with an old fashioned radio behind him listening to their song, "I'll Be Loving You Always," pouring his heart out to my grandmother, asking her to be with him forever, and then having to wait so long to hear her reply.

My grandmother has only shared that letter with me and I treasure that moment with her.

My beloved and I don't really have a song, so for our first dance we'll be borrowing that one from my grandparents. When I first listened to the song myself, I was overwhelmed with the most vivid picture. It was like a dream sequence, in old sepia tones, I could see this young man pouring his heart out to a young woman and asking her to be his bride, and I began to cry. The story still makes me weep.

So often, with our parents or grandparents or older folks we just see them for who they are to us. But, in that moment my grandmother opened herself up to me in a way that really allowed us to connect like we never had before. Suddenly, their relationship was about so much more than fifty plus years and a family and a lifetime of adventures. I could see in that moment that the four children, five grandchildren, and five great grandchildren that came out of that relationship really came from the love of a young couple who spent their first date roller skating, and I suddenly realized the full potential of human emotions.


Libby said...

Amanda, this is a truly beautiful story. I loved it so much I read it three times to myself and a fourth time, out loud to my husband. Thank you for sharing it.

Debbie said...

Beautiful, thanks for sharing that with us. It was so special.