As we close in on Remembrance Day, I think of family who lived through and fought in World War II. And how those experiences are so far from how we live today. I love the black and white photos of soldiers and stories that come to light this time of year, seeing the visual representations of people’s memories.
I am lucky enough to have my grandparents’ correspondence from during the war. My grandfather was in the Navy and my grandmother worked in the Signal Branch of the RCAF. These letters chronicle the phases of their relationship during the war, from the formal salutations at the beginning of courtship to the intimate declarations of longing to be together and start a life together.
It’s a far cry from how my husband and I dated, we didn’t have obstacles like Navy censorship, German U-boats, or waiting for a weekend leave from active service to be able to see, let alone hold one another.
I get the warm and fuzzies thinking of how many couples lived through that, overcame those challenges and started the lives they had waxed romantic about in those letters tracking back and forth across the world. While Remembrance Day often highlights the soldiers’ sacrifices, I also take a moment to think of men and women whose lovers, spouses or friends didn’t come home; for those whose lives were lived with holes in their hearts. I can’t fathom, and for that I’m lucky.
My aunt and I pulled these letters, along with all sorts of life momentos from old steamer trunks. I really geek out on these snapshots onto the lives lived in other times. I hope my kids will treasure them as much as I do, only time will tell.
I have spent hours reading through the letters my grandmother kept and I must share with you my favourite. It’s not a love letter, nor note home to her parents, but a letter from a pal illicitly coordinating a Saturday night on official Air Force letterhead. I can tell you, the planning of my nights out were never, ever that cool.