Monday, 26 November 2012

Bittersweet Memories - The Letters

I must apologise for the delay in posting, I have just been so busy and did not want to rush this post.
It has taken me a while to sit and write this.  A slight hesitation on my part, I do not know why.  I am still in a very reflective mood looking to the past perhaps too much.  I think, in part, it is that I have been clearing and emptying my parent's house.  Finding lots of documents, photographs and tiny reminders of a family's life.  My younger brother and I never lived in the house as a family home, having both left years before my parents moved. 

I mentioned my father's letters to my mother and asked if she would like to see them.  I told her I was looking for photographs to show her when I came upon the leather bag that held those precious letters.  I have known for a number of years that my father had written many letters to my mother in the months before their marriage in October 1946. 

lovely grained leather shoulder bag

I visited my mother and took the bag with me.  I gave my mother the bag and asked if she had remembered that I had found them.  She looked inside and took out a few of the letters and a smile spread across her face.  I asked if she would like me to read them to her, she said she would like to read them herself.  The writing was very faded and some of them were written in green ink so they proved to be a challenge as my mother's eyesight is fading.  She handed me the letters and I chose a short letter to read.  It was a letter about their meeting the previous night and how my father had enjoyed seeing my mother.  It was so funny as when I finished the letter it had a funny postscript reminding my mother to water the leek plants!  She laughed and explained that she was in charge of the plants but couldn't recall why. 

my father's beautiful handwritten envelope
All of the letters were delivered by hand and this was a puzzle to me as they lived about five miles apart and my father did not own a car then.  When I asked my mother how she received the letters she mentioned that the Co-operative Society had a delivery boy who would take groceries to the customers on his trusty bicycle.  He obviously incorporated many visits to my mother's address on his travels!!


letters written on order forms, invoices and scrap paper
A lot of the letters were very long, several pages written outlining their meetings and their hopes for the future.  I read my mother a couple of the shorter notes and the twenty first birthday telegram she received from my father.  She said she would like to see the letters again and for me to read some to her on another occasion.  Her concentration wavers a lot.  She did enjoy hearing my father's words. It definitely made her smile and I am sure she was remembering that time and they obviously meant a lot to her as she had kept them for over sixty five years.

I have always had a photograph of my parent's wedding framed in my home.  My mother always asked me why, she obviously thought it strange.  I just love this photograph, they look so young, my father was 23years old and my mother 21years old.  I love their outfits, I have the corsage my mother is wearing, it is made of wax and I was told it was edelweiss.

the happy couple 7th October 1946
I am sure my mother enjoyed seeing and hearing some of the letters.  I do think it is so lovely that my father wrote these sentiments to my mother, sometimes within hours of leaving her and when he was to see her the next day.  My mother's recollection is that she never replied to any of the letters.
I particularly love the way my father signed off every letter in his beautiful handwriting -
                                                          yours till your mine - Jacky x
Bittersweet memories indeed.........  Jayne x


  1. Hello Jayne, this is so kind of you to share, what a lovely post. I would say it was quite unusual for your father to be so wordy, how lovely that he was, sometimes I think I would love a letter from my husband, it would come from the heart I think. I'm so pleased your Mother had some happiness from them, this post really did make me feel happy but sad too., it gave me goosebumps. I hope that you are ok, I can imagine how hard it must be going through all your Ma's things.
    Sending you a hug, hope you daughter is doing well :-) xx

  2. Ah Sophie, your words touched me. It was a difficult decision whether to write about the letters at all. I knew my mother's response would be unknown due to her Alzheimer's but I am so glad that I did take them to her. My father was a very sentimental gentle man. My husband worked away when we were first married and I have some letters written by him which I treasure. Have you thought of asking your husband to write you a letter? Em is doing really well thank you, she is half way! We found out she is having a baby boy! Better get the knitting needles out! Thanks again Sophie x jayne x

  3. Dear Jayne,
    How very special for you,to be able to see and read those wonderful letters, from your father, to your mother- and rereading them for her, making her smile and feel happy.
    I can understand it is also kind of sad, and giving many memories and thoughts looking throug your parents "life" ,- and a long chapter which is now ended.
    The photo is amazing, so young and so very adult dressed,as one did back then...a beautiful thing to treasure.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Dorthe, it is indeed very special to possess such a lovely treasure. It is very sad and the word bittersweet is so apt. They are lucky they had a long and happy life together. I do love the photograph of them and have it on my fireplace. hugs to you to Jayne x

  4. Oh how very touching is this post Jayne!
    I did wonder whether you did get to read any of these letters and it is wonderful that you managed to do this for your sweet mother. It was the era when our parents held their feelings in reserve and still do when they reach these grand old years so that is understandable also!
    That is such a beautifulphoto you treasure of your younger parents - your mother looks so very much like my mother who died so sadly and very suddenly when I was just 18 years old.
    Hold these letters and any photos close as these are precious felt memories which hopefully may be handed down to your own daughter.

    Thank you Jayne for your kind comment about my pink wrap!

    Sending warm hugs,

    1. Thank you Suzy for your lovely comments. I do hold these treasures dear. I am so sorry you lost your mother so suddenly and when you were just 18years old. I have a lot of beautiful photographs of my mother and her family (she was one of 9 children) which I am going to write another post about. Your wrap was just beautiful. Jayne x

  5. What a lovely story and how lucky your mother was to receive those beautiful letters. Wonderful memories for you to share with her too. I have lots of photos and very happy memories of my parents love for each other - but your letters are a really special treasure, one you can pass on.

    1. You are right Nilly lots of special treasures to pass down to Emily. I think we have forgotten how precious written communication is. Nothing like the plop of a handwritten letter on the mat to bring a smile to my face. My friend and I live a few miles apart but still write to each other.
      It is so lovely to have these visual reminders, so glad you have lots too. I have some gorgeous images of my mother's large family all together. I intend to write a post about them. Thanks for your lovely words. jayne x

  6. Oh Jayne,bittersweet indeed...but the strongest feeling, as you so generously share your tale, is of love ...sweet sweet love :) So lovely to hear how the letter reading unfolded...thankyou for the heart warming :) xx

    1. Thank you so much Jenny, you are right, it is so lovely to know about my father's feelings, and to see my mother smile in rememberance. I intend to take them again soon, as she said she would like me too. Bittersweet sums it up perfectly. jayne x

  7. What a beautiful story, full of memories...x

    1. Thank you Victoria, I think it is so lovely too. Treasures to keep and hand down to Emily x

  8. Those were the days when people used to write to each other. When I was at university my friend and I used to write to each other every week during the holidays. Boyfriends wrote too and I have a stash of letters from those days.
    Try encaustic its fun.


Thank you for your lovely comments, I really do appreciate them.