talked about her siblings and how she had to care for them while attending school, studying, and helping in the store. She expressed her sadness in how the war was keeping her and my dad apart, and she spoke about how much she would cherish every single moment she had with him once the war ended.
My dad spoke of his experiences of war, his feelings of love, and how much my mother's letters helped him to make it through each war-torn day.
Once, several months had passed since my mother had received a letter, she wrote of her worries for my dad and how her mind had a tendency to think the worst. Soon, the much-awaited response arrived. My dad had come down with malaria while in New Guinea and was literally at death's door.
He wrote to my mom telling her how he had prayed, "Lord, please don't let me die before seeing and meeting the woman I love."
His prayers, of course, were heard and answered. They both spoke of their desired future together as husband and wife and the perfect family consisting of two children - a son and a daughter.
I read the Western Union my mom received April 28, 1945 at 3:30 p.m. from my dad: "Darling leaving Harrison Monday noon, arrive Milwaukee Tuesday about 5:30 p.m. by bus. Will call from Chicago. All my love."
A month after their first meeting, and eight years after their written relationship, they married. They did make many of their dreams come true. They had the perfect family (with a few extra children than planned) four boys and a girl. Seems my dad had to wait until son No. 3 before child No. 4 was the birth of his little girl.
To read these letters was to see my parents in roles other than "parents." I saw them as young lovers, I saw how they helped one another through the difficult times, and I saw the real power of the written word. I saw how words were intended to be used - as an expression of one's heart, mind and soul. I understood how and why I have the morals and values I do and why I have such deep convictions about love, loyalty and trust. I understood better where my own passion for writing stemmed from - it was truly in my blood, and I understand where my respect for the written word came from.
This past May my parents celebrated their 64th wedding anniversary. They still tenderly care for one another - my dad, with his artistic God-given talent, designed and composed his own greeting cards for my mother, filled with messages of his love for her, right up until he died. The penmanship may have been a bit more illegible from my dad's shaking tremerous hands, but his sentiments from the heart had only deepened.
I think of the men who are now in the Iraq war. I think of the women they left behind and how much the times have changed since my parents love story. Now, with the age of technology, there are letters of love being sent via the Internet in e-mails and instant greetings. It's nice, I'm sure, for those involved to receive these. But nothing can compare to the old-fashioned love of a hand-written love letter sent through the mail. The anticipation, the smiles as you hold and smell the envelope, the joy as you gently, with love, tear the envelope open, the tears as you read and run your fingers across the words written by your love.
One great thing has come out of my dad's hospital stay. He was thrilled to discover one day when he was eating that his hand no longer shook with tremors. It was as steady as it once had been! He looked at his right hand and exclaimed to my Mom and I, "Look! It's not shaking at all!" We were ecstatic! Now I hope to see him pick up his artists brushes and again paint and draw.
Happy Father's Day, Dad. With Love and admiration always, "Sunshine"
http://www.authoraprilstar.com FL, US
JoMarie Grinkiewicz - author, 863 386-0274
dad, grieving, loss, death
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