notes

Love letters

In writing on July 13, 2012 at 1:23 am

Last weekend, my mother handed me this box of letters written by my grandmother to my grandfather in the days of their courtship in the mid-1920s. He was away for weeks or months at a time, working as a bookkeeper for tobacco warehouses, and she wrote to him faithfully, sometimes every other day.

I was almost disbelieving when my mother told me about the letters not long ago; in all the years I knew my grandmother – she lived with us for most of the years before I went off to college – she betrayed little emotion and, to be frank, little affection and warmth. The idea of her writing courtship letters was hard for me to wrap my head around.

So of course, I began reading to see what the young Mary Lee was like.

Her love letters are quiet and reserved, but caring and tender; she talks of the simple things that fill her days (canning preserves, cooking, visiting friends) and several times waxes poetic about the sweet watermelon she is sorry he is missing.

Now I wish I had read them long ago so I might have been able to look past the tiny, curmudgeonly old woman and catch a glimpse of that shy, kind girl lurking underneath.

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