Maybe all is not lost, as I have a teenage son who came to me a while back asking to earn some extra money to buy his girlfriend a birthday gift. We talked about what he might buy, eventually my daughter and I talked him out of spending it all on flowers, and extolled him to buy something lasting. But a few days later he told me that she had just asked him to write her a love letter…I like that! Because my son is not only a man (in the making) but also HIM, I asked him if he wanted some nice paper to write his letter on…but being the scavenger in our family, he had already found my stationary and taken care of it himself. The morning he left to see her, he had a recyclable shopping bag with one of his old teddy bears and when I peered into it, he said “The letter is in there!” He gets it…THAT’s the important stuff! Words with actions that follow…they’re important. I looked at him and said, “You know, she’s going to keep this forever and when she’s my age she’s going to come across it one day and reread it.” I got a huge grin in return.
Or maybe her kids will read it. I recently came across the love letters of my grandparents. They were married almost 40 years before my grandfather died and were a great example of marriage. My grandmother was the oldest of five kids from a single mom and quit school to help provide for the family, my grandfather was a navy man and they met one time when he was on leave. From the letters, I’ve learned that he would travel 400 miles, which meant 16 hours on a bus each way, just to spend the weekend with her.
Unfortunately, the scrapbook only contains his letters to her, although given that my grandfather later became a writer some of the letters are works of art, but it would be nice to have seen her replies.
They met in June and the letters go through his Christmas leave when they spontaneously got married because his orders changed. There is a letter for every day they were apart. As I read them a few months ago, I savored each one…it was nice to see that even though in today’s world we may often wonder if love like this still exists (gosh I hope so,) but the thing I learned is that the patterns of early relationships and blooming love are still the same.
In current dating we have the follow-up text after a date…Here’s old school follow-up in 1947..
“I would like to thank you again for one of the most pleasant evenings I ever spent in my entire life. I can’t remember when I’ve enjoyed myself more. I am looking forward with great joy to many more of the same.”
And then…”I can still close my eyes and feel your lips.”
There were days he only had time for a quick letter…
“Not enough time for a letter but wanted you to know I’m thinking of you and missing you more than I would an arm!”
There’s cute flirting too about who owes whom a letter, him questioning her why she doesn’t think she’s beautiful. I love reading she doesn’t know how to cook, to which he told her that he would marry her after she learned. The funny thing is, she actually never learned, my grandfather was always the cook.
Apparently she had the same worries with “the rules” that we face today. Remembering it was a 40 year marriage, who can argue that within just after two weekends together, he replies with this:
“It isn’t how long one has known someone or how many dates they’ve had together-it’s the way one feels in his or her heart. To me, it was a perfectly natural thing to do-I’d have felt badly if I hadn’t kissed you. ‘TO THE PURE IN HEART, ALL THINGS ARE PURE.’ And as you said-it was a perfect way to end a perfect evening! So now you can quit worrying about whether I think you’re a bad girl for kissing me. My unbiased opinion of you is-I think you’re the sweetest, most prettiest gal I know and I also think, all joking aside, that I’m in love with you! So there, too. I hope you like the idea as much as I do.”
Another time he says “Live your life with your own heart, conscience and sense of humor guiding you and you can’t possibly go wrong.” Good advice for us all!
There’s times where they talk of how different THIS feels for them, how crazy love feels and not always liking those feelings. Times sure have changed, but feelings… both fear and love…apparently haven’t.
“I’ve been thinking of you constantly all day long and missing you something fierce! I miss you all the time but more today than ever before-don’t ask me why for I don’t know. There’s no reason, that I can think of, why I should miss you so much more today than usual. But I suppose if one understood all of ones actions and emotions it would be an awfully boring life. ..
On another day, he writes...
“I have so many memories wrapped up in, and around, you. How I wrote for a date because I had nothing definite to do one weekend-how adorable you were, and are-how perfect our first real date was-how very nice and completely natural our first kiss was-all the hours and kisses and teasing and just being with you that have followed and, please God, will continue to follow-all the little things I might have forgotten, and more that I’m looking forward to with the utmost eagerness. You see, darling, I kinda love you and I’m kinda wrapped up in you and its all pretty new to me. I can’t quite understand it all myself. “
These letters are both enlightening, comforting and also a shining beacon of what amazing love can be like. My grandfather was planning to remain a bachelor and continue enjoying the company of many women until the right one caught his eye and then his heart. My grandmother was serious and focused when they met… she was working hard and going to school at night to get her GED…she wasn’t waiting around to get married. Somehow, the right person turned their world upside-down, it’s amazing how the events of one day can turn into forever.
My grandfather says it like this… “I’m sometimes forced to believe the moon and stars do play a part in one’s life. I know most farmers plant according to the sign of the moon-or the most successful ones do. Also the tides are controlled by the moon. But my love for you in controlled by the grasp you have on my heart and by no other method! The world and all in it might be governed by the sun and moon, I am governed only by you.”
While my grandparents couldn’t predict when or if love would come, and felt they may have little control over it, they knew it came at a worthy price, as my grandfather explains here:
“One never gets something for nothing. You might and probably will think that’s pretty cynical but it’s what I truly believe. I can’t remember getting something for nothing-not even love. It has cost me more than anything before in my life! Your love has cost me my heart and I’m still not sure I really like the ride, but my heart means a lot to me. Of course, I got a real, fine price for it but it’s changing my life and I can’t get use to the idea.”
Love costs us a lot…sometimes our plans, our rules or often putting someone else’s needs before ours, sometimes it’s just our time or sometimes an extra chore to earn money to buy a gift. The best sacrifice of all might just be sweet and heartfelt words thoughtfully written down on special paper by young lovers that not only fill their recipients’ heart with joy, but also touch the hearts of people who read them sixty-six years later.