My grandfather was a prolific letter writer. Even as a baby I was sent postcards from all over the world with little notes like this one:
“You would look so beautiful wearing a lei from Hawaii my dear Ali! Wish you were here with me darling girl! Kisses, Grandpa”
What little girl doesn’t need a grandfather like that? He entrusted me with all sorts of important tasks when he was away, things I still can’t believe he allowed me to do at the early tender ages of my life. But he believed in me in a way that has scarcely been matched since his death sixteen years ago.
His death was one of the saddest days of my entire life. I felt like I lost a part of myself.
Sometimes I dream about him, and can almost feel his huge engulfing arms all the way around me. He smelled of Mercedes leather and mints, and almost always wore a fedora.
Oh how I miss him!
A few weeks ago at my mother’s house I came across a huge stash of old photos and letters from my grandfather. He had extremely distinctive handwriting so I spotted his letters right away, and the more I dug the more treasure I found. I ended up snatching dozens and dozens of love letters from my grandfather to my grandmother throughout a period of 50 years, starting in the early 1930’s all the way until he stopped traveling for work.
My grandfather was a hugely successful civil engineer who designed hundreds of old buildings and bridges across the world, but his letters are exactly grandpa. While some of the letters feel too personal for even me to read, most of them are from a tender husband to his beloved wife, mixed with a set of plans and specs for whatever job he was working on. He was so specifically detailed, talking about the price of tickets for his train fare, the cost of the projects he was bidding on, how much his per diem was on each project, the exact times of his arrival and departure at every airport and train station across the world so my grandmother would know exactly when to expect him.
There’s so much lost in email and texting, nothing sacred about the telephone. I can almost feel my grandmother’s relief at the news of his imminent arrival home in each letter. His words are so tender and dear, no one could ever question his love and devotion to his family in his love notes and detailed daily instructions to his family.
I wish we had more letters and less email in our lives, I really do. I’m so grateful to have found this stash of history from my grandfather, in his own pen. It almost feels like he’s here with me when I read them.
— Have you ever found old love letters? Reading these made me feel like I was right there with him, in a cheap hotel in Venezuela during World War II. —