March 20, 2009

Love Letters

My great grandfather Cecil wrote this letter to my great grandmother Faye when he had gotten home from World War One in France. A little older than she was, he was actually her teacher at one point. But he fell in love with the girl who always wore purple and this is what came of it. It's amazing to know that this is in my blood. 

So read it and weep. Peek through the windows into their love story. I'm not going to change or correct a single word or question mark, because behind this man's stern looking face was a poet- it doesn't get more romantic than this, so I would be wrong to not share it:
Danville, Ill., July, 16, 1919.

Dear Faye:

I found your note when I came in Saturday night and it set me to thinking how few things in this world we can be absolutely sure about. We know so very little, and there are so many things we might have known or ought to have known at the time and did not realize till later.

When did I begin to love you? I don't know, but I do know that I was always glad to get your letters and was often thinking of you and wondering how you were and what you were doing and whether you ever thought of me. I remember once when I was at your house you went somewhere to visit some girl friends and I was quite disappointed in not getting to visit more with you. Yet even then, it never occurred to me that there was any possibility that I might fall in love with the little girl who used to have trouble with complex fractions. I came up to see you graduate from high school and I can't tell you how proud I was of you, and, that you had once been a pupil of mine. I ought to have know then but I didn't. Why was I so blind? Then the war came and I decided that it was my duty to enlist. I had to make a trip home and I hadn't seen Carrie for a long time so I had to go to Wellington to tell him good-bye. Then I can't tell you how badly I wanted to see you. Not till then did I ask myself why I was so much more interested in you than in any other friend I had and I began to realize what it was that had me in its grip. Then I didn't dare come. I was afraid. I was afraid that in spite of myself I would tell you of that which no man has a right to talk of to a woman on the eve of going to war. 

Besides I realized how almost impossible the things was. There wasn't a chance in a thousand that you could be brought to care for me at all in that way. You deserved a younger and a much better man. I finally decided that the right thing for me to do was to go without seeing you and try to forget-not you-but that I had ever allowed myself to think such foolish thoughts. Perhaps, I thought, after all I might be mistaken about my own feelings and would be glad when I came back to find you engaged, or married to some good man. Well, the experiment wouldn't work. I couldn't forget and the farther away I got, the more hopeless I felt. I do not know how I would have gotten along without your letters.

When the armistice finally stopped the fighting, there was no soldier in France more anxious to get home than I was. How this time dragged! Before I had reached home I had made up my mind that you had a moral right to know how I felt toward you, but that you must see me in citizen's clothes first. The romance of a soldier's life should have nothing to do with the story I had to tell.

But however long the story, it finally resolves itself into just this. Faye, I love you. Will you be my wife? Faye, this letter is all one thing but that one thing is all I am able to think of just now. When may I see you? Is it asking to much to ask that I have my answer from your lips? 

Whether or not your are ever mine, I am always yours,

Cecil E. Walter.

There isn't much room for competition with this kind of note. It can't get any sweeter or more heartfelt. What girl wouldn't want to get this letter?

But when I got to work this morning, I had my own note. I opened up my email and saw his name next to the "Hey Kiddo" subject line. It wasn't long or intense, but it was unexpected and turned out to be one of the most beautiful surprises I've had. I had a note typed out on a computer in Kuwait, and I'm still sighing over it tonight. He said exactly what I needed him to say. And even though I can't talk to him this very second and tell him that, I can read it over and over again and be reminded of all things good.

I guess it doesn't matter if the words take years, like my great grandparents, or maybe not much time at all- when it's your own story, it is the best ever.

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