Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Love Letters

There is a box of love letters in Mom & Dad's basement - letters between Mom's parents. Some marriages are all about friendship and companionship, some are financial arrangements, and just a few are life-long romances. Harold was seeing another girl, quite seriously. When he called to make a date for a serious conversation, she was sure that a marriage proposal was on the agenda. Instead, he broke up with her. He'd just met Sophie at a cousin's party, and that was it: zing, zing, zing went his heartstrings!

I wasn't really aware of this as a kid, but I did notice that they always treated each other kindly and tenderly, and always put the other's needs first. There was nothing
they would not do for each other, and they enjoyed, they relished being able to make each other's life better and easier. I guess that's a pretty good definition of romance, isn't it? It's not grand gestures of roses and gifts and champagne; it's the small acts of thoughtfulness that really demonstrate affection and respect.

It was a stark contrast to Dad's parents, who seemed to be together out of habit, and out of affection for us. I'm sure that in ways I never saw or appreciated, they probably felt more kindly toward each other than they showed. But their relationship involved a lot of hollering. I remember once asking my mother, if they hated each other, why did they stay together? They don't hate each other, she said, that's just the only way they know to talk to each other. If there were any love letters that passed between them, they have long since disappeared. (What I still think is hilarious, is the fact that they yelled at each other in Yiddish, as if we wouldn't know they were fighting.)

In my dating heyday, I did a lot of out-of-town dating through friends, personal ads, etc. It wasn't unusual to send cards and letters back and forth; long distance phone calls were still a bit of an extravagance and generally saved for emergencies. I probably still have a few of those notes, from the two non-jerks I dated. (I had a history of picking inappropriate men. Not Bad Boys, per se, but self-involved, immature, commitment-phobes. I'm sure there is a reason I picked them.)

I was thinking about that box of love letters: lightly scented heavy papers sending affections back and forth. What will the archives of the present generation look like? Will they have scrapbooks with ticket stubs and menus? Are they saving text messages and emails? ("What r u wearing?") Will they even have archives? Will they be saving anything tangible?


Sandy said...

After years of collecting dysfunctional-almost-bad-boys in my relationships, I finally (at my advanced age!) found one that works... why? Like you said, it's the little efforts of trying to make each other's life easier - it's the humor - and it's also probably (since he's had his share of similar opposites) that we are both just SO grateful to be best friends and share time together. We won't have centuries together, but we'll make the most of the hours left.

Kathy from NJ said...

My sister and I found my father's love letters to my Mom in the attic when we were teen-agers. Written from 1940-1945 they were STEAMY. My nine year younger sister also found them when she was a teen-ager. They turned up again five or so years ago when Dad & my sister-in-law were cleaning out the attic. SIL took them (with Dad's blessing) and she offered them to all of us to read - we all said no, now it seems intrusive.

And incidentally, my SIL re-wrote many of them (leaving out all the love and longings) so her children could read them. Dad was unable to keep Mom's letters to him, they traveled very light in those days.

Sid said...

Hi Cootie, I'm on a dexo high but just for you I will be good.
Good blog, good posting, I like today's photos.
Romance: Ours is lifelong and to make that happen we keep working at it even with MM. It's the little things: saying thank you, caring and sharing, memories, leaving a love massage on the answer pohne, doing something for your partner.
Love letters: Myra has kept all mine. Some of the earlier ones were hotter than hot. They need to be censored but she won't, and still reads them!
I still write her a note or send an email.
Be good, be happy, write a love letter.
Sid (now back to the dexo)

tim's wife said...

Tim's parents are like your dad's parents. I swear it seems like they can't have a single conversation without some arguement starting.We're up here in Vermont spending a week with them at their vacation house and after just 2 days with them, I'm thinking, "man I wish they spoke Yiddish!" ;o)

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La Cootina said...

Except for the last one (I get 1-2 of these each month)...I want to thank everyone for such great comments!