Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Love Letter

A man walked into my bookstore yesterday. He moved slowly, carefully feeling his way with his cane, an old military helmet on his head. He wasn't very old, maybe middle-aged, tho it was difficult to tell with any confidence. My guess was that the helmet was used as a means of protection, maybe after some sort of accident. It was obvious that something had happened to him, maybe a stroke or a brain hemorrhage, there was no way of really knowing without asking, which of course was out of the question. I even wondered, with Fort Rucker right up the road, if perhaps he was a veteran who had been injured overseas.

He made his way to me and smiled. He opened his mouth as if to speak, and I waited while he tried to form the words.

"I wa wa a boo on how do wrie a ledda." Tho he struggled, I finally determined that he wanted a book on letter writing. No problem. We have plenty of books on that.

"What kind of letter?" We have books that are pretty specific.

Again he struggled.

"A La,la, Lo Lo ledda."

(A love letter.)

Okay, I am a softie. I admit that. Any man who can walk up to a stranger in a store and ask for help on finding a book that will instruct him on the art of writing a love letter is one hell of a man, in my opinion.

"I nee do dell her how ah fee. Do you ha anah ide hau ah ca tell her?""

(I need to tell her how I feel. Do you have any ideas how I can tell her?)

I wanted to just reach out and hug him. How very very sweet.

"Can't you just tell her?" I ask.

"Ah don know wha she lis."

(I don't know where she lives.)

Well, this opened a lot of questions in my mind. Was she someone he met online? Perhaps in a chatroom dealing with those who might be stroke victims or otherwise handicapped? Was she a nurse who took care of him, perhaps overseas where his injury might have occured? I will never know, so either will you, my dear reader. And in reality, it doesn't matter. What matters is this gentleman, with his soldier's helmet and his cane, unable to clearly articulate, loved someone and wanted to let her know that in as beautiful a way as he could..through a love letter.

This still has not left my thoughts. It made me remember a time, years ago, when I was a child snooping through my parent's dresser, just to see what they had in there of interest. I had never done this before. In fact, we weren't allowed in their room. My mother had hung a painting of Christ on her bedroom wall, and if I did go into her room, His eyes in that painting would follow me.

(This is the painting that hung on her wall. You cannot keep His eyes off of you. It's impossible.)

It was enough to make me leave that room. It's one thing to have your parents see you do something you weren't supposed to do. It's far worse to feel Christ's eyes burrowing into your snooping, sneaking, evil body at every turn. But one day I hardened my heart to that painting and ventured into the most secretive place in that room, my parent's dresser drawers. There really wasn't anything that caught my eye until I reached way into the back and found an envelope, yellowed with age. I opened the envelop and pulled out a bunch of papers and began to read.

Oh My letters! From my Dad! To my Mom! They were IN LOVE!!! Oh crap, how embarrassing and fascinating they were, all at the same time. They were only dating, not married, no kids...and my dad is writing all these tender mushy words to my mother. I never knew! The closest thing to mush I ever heard coming from my dad's face was "Margie, good meal." or "Margie, the house looks nice" And I couldn't even confront either of them about the letters because I wasn't supposed to be in their room in the first place, much less snooping and reading love letters.

(Years later, after both parents had passed away, one of my sisters found the letters and gave a copy of them to me and our other sister, but even then, I didn't tell my siblings I had already read them.)

My point in telling y'all this is because it brings home a point that a love letter, written on paper and sent to someone special, often lives on. It's not like an email. Or a verbal affirmation of love. It's tangible and often cherished by the one held dear, a remembrance that they were, indeed, worthy of another's great love.

I hope that gentleman finds an address to which to mail that love letter. The object of his affection may not return his love (then again she just might, who knows?) But I would bet you anything, she will hold on to that letter for all her life.


  1. this was very touching and made my eyes moist...

    love letters live forever, except for the ones that burn in a fire and thats sad....

  2. My dear Sir Thomas, if anyone could write a touching love letter, it would be you. Your entire blog consists of beautiful love letters. xoxoxo

  3. Beej, Great stories about love. Am reading them in reverse, oops. Making me think of love letters I have recieved and those I have sent. I made a big decision last year to destroy a set because I needed to move on. It has taken me ages to do and was eventually quite cathartic and empowering. Yet at the same time I have another collection of love poems which I will never get rid of, from way back in college days. Who knows perhaps one day someone will read them and wonder who on earth LN was!

  4. I saw him...and saw the letter writing books that he'd had. Even checked him out...and while i didnt know the story, my heart was pricked even then. What a man, in my opinion. A hero in my eyes, someone willing to face possible discrimination(there were obviously some issues, but the man wasn't stupid by any means, and i'm sure he sees how some treat him with ignorance) in order to tell someone how special they are in this world. Thank you for telling his story to the world..and for reminding me once again of the beauty that humanity has to offer.

  5. Sheila, no way would electronic mail survive the years the way your cherished love letters have. I have some, too. put away.

    Hey Kristen! I'm glad you posted to verify this story. I was so touched by him. I hope his letter reaches his lady and that she recognizes how special he is.

  6. wow amazing.. you just dont see to many men like this anymore. i hope he finds the one true love that he is trying to reach out to.. if he returns to thank you with a love letter of his own we want to know of course..

    must be special to have read the letters your parents or your dad had written in secret before your siblings got to read them.. its a treasure. i know my mom doesnt have any of those.


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