I have had the honor of reading some love letters. They were bound in a pink ribbon. Kept carefully, and lovingly, to pass on to another generation. That generation, shared them with me.
They weren’t letters to me. They were love letters to my grandmother, from my grandfather. From a time prior to their marriage through a time shortly after their marriage. He was on the road a good bit. He used his letters to detail his daily travels and discoveries. This from a time when photography was not as easily produced nor as accessible as it is now. Words were used, and much more eloquently I must say, to share visions. But more importantly, he sent her a constant assurance and link back to him and his love for her. And the life he wanted with her.
Some may question the ethics of reading other’s love letters. I don’t. Not when they are kept carefully. Protected, guarded from time and destruction. And left purposefully for those left behind, to have. And not when they are so tender. So authentic. So genuine. So…..graceful in their proclamations.
When I first started to read the letters I kept visually referencing a certain image in my head of my grandfather. I, of course, saw this man. My Grandfather.
For a few letters I had the difficult task of reconciling the passionate and endearing words of a young man in love, with the image in my memory. Of course I didn’t know him as a young man. Of course my visualization of him would be of the man you see above. Older. Wise. Probably more reserved, with us as children, than the young man who was courting and preparing to marry the love of his life.
Reading terms of “honey girl”, “dearest”, “lovey” and other absolutely adoring monikers he assigned his wife-to-be were bouncing around in my memory trying to find a place to rest comfortably. With that image of him I hold so dear.
I actually had to put the letters down. And go back in my imagination to find a young man writing letters who had no designs on grandfatherhood.
I found him.
Now here is a young man. The world before him. Life not yet fulfilled. Love not yet mastered. This young man can pour out his heart, his love, to someone he desperately wants to marry. Someone he wants to impress. Someone he wants to spend the rest of his life with. Someone he wants to build a world with.
I picked up the letters and continued to read. The romantic in me and the lover of history were at peace. I envisioned the young man not known as father, grandfather or great grandfather. A man in love with a girl and the dreams of what their life would be.
I used the letters to time travel to meet a part of my grandfather not known to me. To see the young man and feel something of the love he had, the hopes he had. The darling terms he showered his girl with. From all of his “Dear and Darling” terms I saw more of this dear and darling man.
I am enjoying the fuller image and vision of this beautiful man.