Love Letters from WWII by Janie Emaus In the Powder Room

Love Letters from WWII

How well do we really know our parents?

To most of us they are simply Mom and Dad.

Oh sure, we hear stories about their younger days. How they had to find a payphone in order to call home. How they had to wait until the nightly news to know what was going on in the world.

And of course, from a very young age, we’re eager to know how they met.

I’ve heard my parents’ story a million times.

It was a sunny afternoon on the beach in Santa Monica. My father asked my mother’s gorgeous friend if she wanted take a swim.

“In the ocean?!” Her friend exclaimed, hiding behind an issue of Ladies’ Home Journal.

“I’ll go,” my mom jumped up.

As the waves crashed on the shore, my dad sighed, “Oh, all right.” He walked off with my mom, glancing back at the beauty on the beach.

But something magical happened while they swam, and he never looked back again.

Throughout the years I’ve seen my father’s sensitive side—crying at family toasts, graduations, holiday pageants. Every Valentine’s Day he brought my mom a box of See’s Candy, along with small heart-shaped ones for my sister and me.

I’ve seen my mom’s face light up when my dad would walk into the room with that candy as if she hadn’t been expecting it all along.

But I didn’t really know them as people.

Not until finding the box of three hundred or more letters written by my dad, as a young soldier, to my mom, his new bride. As I read through them, something truly magical happened again. That young couple who met on the beach came alive for me.

They are written on thin, crinkly paper—the kind you don’t see anymore. Every letter starts with a term of endearment: Dearest. Darling. Sweetheart.

Each one ends with, “Your loving husband. PS. XXXXXXX.”

My dad’s compassion comes through in passages such as, “I received a letter from you today. Also one from my mom. I got a good bawling out for not writing more often. I deserve it too.”

His practicality hits me in the gut when he writes, “I picked up my high pay $46.80 and took the rest of my dirty clothes to the cleaners.”

The optimism jumps off the page with these words. “V-J Day should come in a day or two. Please don’t drink too much. Wait till I get home and we do it right.”

Even as a young man he set goals. “You must be pretty busy too, with school and work. Don’t let it get you down. Someday, honey, you’ll be able to take it easier.”

True to his word, he gave my mom a great life, providing her with everything she ever needed . . . especially his love. “It was wonderful just hearing your voice again. You sounded so sweet and lovely. I miss you more than ever. You mean everything to me. If only we could be together again soon.”

Every night I have the privilege of learning a little bit more about them, and I can say proof positive my parents had quite a life before I was born.

 

This original piece by Janie Emaus was written exclusively for In the Powder Rooma division of Hold My Purse Productions, LLC. Featured photo of Janie’s parents on their wedding day courtesy of Janie Emaus.  

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Janie Emaus is the author of the time travel romance, Before the After, the young adult novel, Mercury in Retro Love, and a co-author of In the Powder Room’s hilarious best-selling anthology You Have Lipstick on Your Teeth. Janie blogs for The Huffington Post, Purple Clover, The Mid and Midlife Blvd. She is proud to be named a 2013 BlogHer Voice of the Year. Janie believes that when the world is falling apart, we’re just one laugh away from putting it together again. To learn more about Janie visit her blog www.theboomerrants.com and her author website www.JanieEmaus.com.

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  1. says

    Loved this story Janie. It’s a shame old-fashioned letter writing has gone out of style. Nobody’s going to read through a collection of old text messages and discover a new side of their parents’ relationship.

  2. says

    That is so wonderful for you. I have my grandparents’s “courting diaries”. They are hilarious! Grandma is full of the angst of teenage love….my grandpa writes stuff like: “plowed today”.

  3. says

    So very beautifully bringing your parents to life, Janie! How lucky we are…..I have my parents’ love letters too….that we are entrusted with such treasures from the past. I love how he signs each letter….such a romantic gentleman! ..
    Thank you for sharing this peak into your Mom and Dad’s Valentine love story.

  4. says

    What a beautiful story, Janie. With all of the communication choices we have today, none of them are capable of conveying exactly what we want to say, emotion included as those hand written crinkly paper letters were.
    I love old letters and was thrilled when my grandmother gave me a beautiful wooden box full of letters and cards between her and my grandfather dating back to their middle school years.

  5. says

    So sweet. So tender. What an absolute treasure!
    I have my parents’ letters from their dating years, while he was in college and she was working half-a-continent away. Now I feel like I should read them again . . .

  6. says

    What a wonderful slice of life that was. I’m quite sure my daughter hasn’t a clue as to who I was before she came into our lives when I was 32. I’m not all that sure she even knows me now. She knows the mom that raised her. But, as you know, Janie, the years change us … for the better. Loved the read.

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