(A creative character sketch in the form of a letter from my great-grandmother to my grandma.
Based on the lives of my great-grandparents and grandmother.)
My dearest little one,
I know that you are not able to read this letter now and won’t for several years, but I want you to know all that has happened the past several years before you were born and while you were too young to remember. I want you to know the sacrifice that has been made for your freedom by your father and others who served in the war. I want you to know just how much the war changed life for everyone. I’m taking the time now to write all this down while the memories are fresh and most of all because I want you to know how much I love you.
I suppose I had better start at the very beginning. Your father and I both grew up on farms just outside Boston, Indiana. Our families both went to church there, mine to the Christian Church and his to the Methodist. We went to school together and even played our violins with each other. Little did I know then, that I would one day marry that Robert Fleisch! After all, he was nearly two years younger than me. Your father has told me since then, that when he was thirteen, he knew that I was the one he was going to marry. That day didn’t come until he was 20 and I was 22.
We eloped together one unforgettable weekend in 1942. After that weekend, your father went back to his training base and I to my parent’s farm--without telling our families. The nation had entered into World War II at this time, and your father had enlisted in the Army-Air Corps. It wasn’t until we found out that your father would be sent overseas in June of 1943 that we told our families. They were very much surprised, but nothing negative was said. We took a weeklong ‘honeymoon’ to De Soto, Missouri just before he had to leave. Your father then left for India. Oh how I feared for him.
While stationed in India, your father worked in personnel. Although we wrote frequently to each other, I don’t know of what all he did then because the army censored all mail. So we wrote of insubstantial topics, because it was wonderful just to hear from each other. Even though we tried hard not to talk of topics that could cause information to get into the wrong hands or have to be censored, many of his letters arrived with punched out words. It was more than a little strange to realize that someone else was reading our letters before we had a chance to. I saved all his letters and he saved mine. One day you’ll be able to read them all and perhaps understand a little bit more about the lives of your parents before you were born. When I discovered that I was going to have you, I immediately sent a telegram to your father in India. He was sitting at his desk when he received it and exclaimed, “Oh my word! Esther’s pregnant!” I could hardly believe it myself, and yet was so excited, so thrilled, and so frightened all at the same time. I just wanted this terrible war to end, my husband to come home, my baby to be born healthy, and life to return to what it once was.
In spite of the war, I was able to keep my job working at the department store in Richmond. I was very grateful for that job, as I knew many other women who went to work in factories to support the war effort. I was living with my parents on the farm then. The farm was going well as the war boosted agricultural growth in order to feed the troops. Still times weren’t easy, everything was rationed and everything was about supporting the war effort. We went into supporting it with everything we had. Metal pieces given for scrap drives, new clothing sewn without zippers, recipes made with supplies just from rations, and even still soldiers like your father fought on. When not busy with all of the war efforts, I prepared and waited for the day when you would be born with ever increasing anticipation.
You were born a healthy and beautiful on April 6, 1944. I couldn’t wait to let your daddy know. He was so overjoyed when he learned that you were born. You were a happy baby, but I longed even more for the day when your father would arrive home. Being a single mother was very difficult for me. I often wished your father were here to share in the joys of parenthood as well as the responsibility. I wrote to him often with all of your newest discoveries—when you first learned to sit up, to crawl, and then to walk. I shared with him how your blue eyes were exactly like his and just how big they got when you first experienced the coldness of an ice cube. How you loved to smile at the littlest things and kept us all smiling too—despite the difficult times. Both sets of grandparents doted on you and you were well loved. I did wish that you would know your father in the first year of your life, but that was not to be as the war raged on for more than another year.
Shortly after your birth, your father was relocated to a base in China. He was assigned to the dangerous work as a gunner in the B24s flying supplies over the Himalayas or the ‘hump as he calls it. These supplies were used by the Chinese army as they strived to defeat the Japanese invasion of their country. He explained that this operation was dangerous because of the terrible weather, possible combat with enemy planes, and the immense size of the mountains. I never knew that then, and for that I am glad, because I was afraid for him as it was. That is the little he has told me since coming home. He wasn’t able to tell me anything while he was there due to the censors and He doesn’t like to talk about his war experiences much since arriving home. I’m sure it was not an enjoyable time and don’t push the subject. Perhaps as time goes on he will feel more open to share about it. I’m simply glad that he was able to come back home again to us at all.
Although the war officially ended several months ago, your father did not return home until last week. This period of time between when the war ended and when he arrived home was the hardest to wait for. When the time did come, I took you with me to the train station in Richmond to pick him up. It seemed like forever since he was here, even though it was only about two years, and I was so excited to see him. Although you were only 19 months old, you caught on to my excitement and were all smiles that day. My smiles only grew at the sight of him dressed so smartly in uniform, but yours disappeared into tears. You were quite scared of him and cried, reaching for me when he held you. It must have been the uniform that frightened you so much, for the next morning you went to him just as if he had held you every day of your life.
You two are already fast friends after just a week of seeing each other. He is so proud of his little girl and love shines in his eyes when he holds you. You respond to him with smiles and giggles. So the war finally did end, your daddy came home safely, beautiful you were born, but somehow I don’t want life to go back to what it was—I’m glad just to have it continue with you two.
I'm back from the world of studying and finals! =D Yay for the new semester! It is so weird, I have nothing I can do for school right now. Either teachers haven't posted assignments, I'm unable to work on assignments until after class, or I really have no assignments because it is orientation week for the second semester. ;)
Anyways, the letter above was for my history project on WWII that I had a lot of fun researching and writing so I thought I'd share it here. Thoughts? =)