I don’t remember ever asking Dad why he had a temporary mission in Goose Bay, Labrador when he was in the air force. (Which surprises me, because I’m a question asker!) But, for whatever reason, Dad was sent from his base in Lake Charles, Louisiana to Goose Bay for about six weeks in the spring of 1955.
This was just a few months after Mom and Dad had met and fallen in love. They weren’t officially engaged, but were already planning to be married. And they wrote to each other faithfully every day.
They were married that June, and their letters were merged together into a cardboard box that traveled with them to Milwaukee, and then to several small homes in Minnesota, until they built their final home in 1962.
And one day, when they were in their late seventies, I came across the simple cardboard box they were stored in. And I was delighted at the find! Dad was blind by that time and Mom’s mind was clouded by Alzheimer’s. I asked Dad if I could read the letters to him, and he seemed pleased.
The envelopes were already arranged neatly in the box by dates; Dad’s letters at one end of the box, and Mom’s at the other. So I’d read one of Dad’s and then take one from Mom’s side with the same date. Mom was just 21 and Dad was 22, when they wrote the letters, and I was taken back in time and given a picture of their fresh young love.
Every few weeks or so I would read a couple more letters. I would often have a hard time reading loud enough for Dad to hear, because I was choking up. And often Dad was, too. But Mom was pretty oblivious to the whole thing, which only added to my emotions.
I never finished reading the letters to Dad. We got a little more than half way through the box. But even though I loved reading them, eventually it just seemed too tender a thing to do.
But I do remember one of the last letters I read to Dad was about building their home and having babies and raising their children to know the Lord, and other hopes and dreams. And Dad said to me, “You know what? All of our dreams came true. We did all those things!”
And I was so grateful to hear he felt that way! And even though Mom didn’t know she was married anymore and he was blind and taking care of her in such challenging circumstances, he never, ever stopped loving her.
And even when Mom would look Dad straight in the face and ask him, “Where’s Raymon?” I believe that part of her knew that she was looking at him, her love, and that she was most content when she was in his arms or holding his hand.
I took the box of letters out again tonight to look at them. The cardboard box they are in is falling apart now and doesn’t reflect the treasure it holds. So I ordered a special box to keep these “sugar notes” (as Mom and Dad referred to them in their letters) safe and honored.
And I pulled a few random letters out and read them. And among other things I learned why so often the stamps were upside down on their envelopes. Dad said it meant the letter was going to someone who was loved or missed. I don’t know if that’s still done today, or if it was the “I love and miss you emoji” of the fifties. But it was a sweet thing to learn.
And it made me wish I could write Mama and Daddy a letter now. And mail it with an upside down stamp.
But it comforts me to know that they are together once more, in paradise with Jesus. Daddy can see his sweetheart’s beautiful face again and Mama knows her love for sure! They are young and fresh once more in the light of eternity, and they never have to miss each other again.