Tuesday, February 10, 2004

In the beginning
How did people meet before online and speed dating?

Well my family began with a letter dated August 18, 1943 that starts 'Dear Miss Shirley' on Camp Shelby, Mississippi stationery. In that note, my grandfather from Texas introduced himself to my grandmother in Michigan. Two people whose paths wouldn't have crossed if my grandfather hadn't been in the Army with my grandmother's best friend's boyfriend.

He describes himself 'blonde' and '5 foot eleven and weigh a hundred sixty six pounds' from 'a small town in West Texas.' He tells her about Army life in Mississippi -- 'hot, chiggers and snakes.' It was only a little over a page in which he tells her he hopes she doesn't mind him writing.

I guess she didn't because they are more letters for the next three years. Most beginning 'Shirley darling.' They talk about living in her hometown which they didn't and moved to his hometown instead. The love literally pours off the pages. And it wasn't just letters.

They married on this date in 1946. It was a marriage that truly lasted until 'death do us part.' They raised three boys; lost a daughter at birth; had six grandchildren. They believed in 'in sickness and in health.' My grandfather's last years were on a ventilator and my grandmother woke up every few hours to take care of him -- moving her bed next to his hospital bed. They held hands up to the last minute of his life. She survived him by two years. And then the girl from Michigan was laid to rest next to her boy from Texas.

Happy Anniversary, Granny and Papa. I still miss you every day.

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