Treasures In My Mother's Cedar Chest
About a year and a half ago my twin sister and I were visiting my widowed mother who lives in Texas. One morning while eating our breakfast, out of the blue, my twin sister says..."mom, what's in that cedar chest in your bedroom? Can we take a look?" As a child the only memories I had of the contents of my mother's chest was of her wedding veil that she took out from time to time to let us inspect. My mother, always indulging the "Twins" in their escapades, willingly obliged my twin's request. So we all got up and walked into her bedroom and proceeded on a lovely adventure...
My lovely mother standing by the "mysterious" cedar chest.
There were some photos and other memorabilia from her high school days... but underneath all of that were piles and piles of...
my parent's year of love letters! Oh...my heart started to pound with excitement! Epistolary Paradise!
Don't you just love the way these dear, sweet letters are bundled together? I just love the rick rack! I just can't seem to envision printed emails being bundled together would have the same effect. Do you?
The vast majority of the letters were from my father...a few survived that were written by my mother.
I would say that there were about 6 months of letters that were written when my father was stationed in the navy at Point Mugu in California after they were engaged... He wrote EVERY day!
Here is some of the cool Navy stationery that he bought for his letter writing endeavors. He made reference to the stationery...he would ask..."Do you like it?" He was very concerned about pleasing her even down to the details of the paper he wrote on. My father (a south paw...a lefty) had beautiful cursive penmanship.
Here is the happy couple...He was a handsome sailor and a Yankee from Illinois... and she was (and still is) a beautiful southern belle from Memphis Tennessee (17 years old, mind you!).
The letters were a crucial aspect to securing affections even when separated by distance. Would an email or a text have had the same result? Think of it. These letters were carefully crafted, lovingly poured over in thoughts, passions, and hoping and praying that they "pleased" her down to the paper he selected! They were written (not typed) and therefore had a more intimate feel. When received, she held in her hands something HE had held in his hands...it was tangible, physical, something to excite the senses. Who knows, maybe they even had a faint odor of his Old Spice aftershave lingering on them. Can you save your texts or emails? Do they have a sweet , lingering smell of your beloved? Oh, I suppose you can print them off and save them...but is it the same? Texts and emails by comparison are cold and impersonal, and do not seem to represent the intimacy of a passionate relationship. No, my friends...letters...love letters are in a totally different category, a completely different league.
Here is an iconic photo of my mother after she had their first baby...my older sister. She was back home living with her parents because my father was stationed in Hawaii. Military regulations made my mother stay behind until my sister was old enough to travel by ship. Again...they are separated by distance and continuing their love letters.
Here is moi,enjoying myself immensely along with my mother and my twin sister sitting at the breakfast table enjoying a walk down memory lane (for my mother) and learning a whole new side about my father for me. This scene would never have happened if letters had not been written and exchanged. This scene would not have happened if those letters had not been treasured and saved for the future. Folks, we are depriving future generations of personal history by not writing letters, long, thoughtful, insightful , and sometimes funny letters. My parent's history is my history. Would my children or their children ever know this love-sick sailor, their grandfather, if he had not taken the time to write my mother? Sadly no. Someone has said, "Oh what a lot we have lost when we stopped writing letters!!!!"
Let's not forget letters are history, family history. Why not start some family history today? Write your mom or grandmother, sister, brother or cousin. Ask questions about their lives,memories and dreams. You will be glad you did...and subsequent generations will be glad as well.