Arianna Jeret shares 10 pearls of wisdom she found among her grandparents WWII love letters.
Veterans’ Day cannot go by without me thinking of my Grandpa Charlie.
He was a sweet, quiet, cigar-puffing Archie Bunker look-a-like with the whitest hair and bluest eyes you ever did see. Yes, my dad got to be Meathead, but this isn’t about him.
My grandfather wasn’t a big talker, unless you were sitting with the men arguing politics, which I was not. I knew he was a proud and active veteran of WWII. I knew he had been stationed somewhere in Europe, as part of a unit that backed up the men fighting on the front by fixing their equipment as needed and essentially tossing them back into the field.
I knew he hated cheese so much that when the only rations available included cheese sandwiches, he not only gave away the cheese, he even cut away any portion of the bread on which he saw some of it stubbornly remain.
And I knew he adored my grandma and she was the light of his life.
When he passed away my grandmother invited us over to choose from old pictures and memorabilia before she threw it all away. There I uncovered a pile of perfectly preserved love letters they had exchanged after they first met. He had left Europe, stopped home to say hi, met her along the way, and continued on to Camp Hood in Texas to await further orders.
The letters span the period of August through November 1945, during which time she turned 21 and he was about to turn 22. They married shortly after and stayed happily together until his passing.
These letters are, for me, pure magic.
Each had separately kept every one in pristine condition, his having been sliced open precisely across the top and hers look like they must have been steamed open at the seam.
Her letters contain the adorable ramblings of a teenage girl in love, frustrated by “grown ups these days,” and closed with a perfect kiss pressed in hot pink lipstick.
His contain rundowns of his routine at the base, support for the stories and events she shared — a lot of information about bridal showers and her friends’ latest dramas with their respective beaus — all interspersed with “I love you I love you I love you!” in between every 4-5 sentences.
Here are the 10 pearls of wisdom these priceless letters gifted me.
1. Men – even men at war – have as much love to offer as women do.
2. Men in love – even men in love while at war – are capable of communicating as much vulnerability and empathy as women.
3. There is no better way to open a letter than with an enthusiastic “I love you!”
4. You can never tell the person who means the most to you that you love them too often.
5. It is never too early to respectfully share financial decisions and information with someone you plan to spend your life with.
6. Love and respect for each other’s family is of paramount importance to a lasting bond between lovers.
7. You can never use too many positive adjectives when telling your love how much you appreciate them and a gift they have given you.
8. Supporting each other in even the most seemingly inconsequential moments builds the layers of trust and intimacy you will need later to support each other through the hardest times.
9. Your grandchildren will want to know who you were. Tell them. Or even better, show them.
10. You can never go wrong with hot pink lipstick kisses.
Dedicated with love and kisses to my still beautiful, lovely, gorgeous, out of this world, stunning ad infinitum Grandma Mary, and to my brother, Major Mark Koransky, MD, also a veteran of the U.S. Army.
This post is republished on Medium.
Also by Arianna Jeret
An Open Letter to the Man I Want (A Woman’s View)
How to Rebuild Self-Esteem After Divorcing a Manipulator
8 Ways Porn Can Strengthen Your Relationship
Sorry Dudes, Happy Endings Count as Cheating
Photo credit: iStock