20/2/1946My Daring Nick,Many thanks darling for the lovely surprise of three letters from you waiting for me tonight when I got in, letters from you and the thought of seeing you some day just make life bearable these days. Today was my half-day so I went over to Joe and Phoebe’s again and Phoebe came down to the market with me. I got a trunk and it was a real bargain, only 30 shillings, but it is wood, do you think it will be okay darling? I think it will be, anyway it looks strong enough to carry anything I want so it looks as if what you said will come true and you’ll see me staggering off the train under the weight of a big trunk, but somehow I don’t think so, I think I will be able to find someone ever so nice to help me carry it (I hope)… I’ve left the trunk over their place but I’ll get a taxi one of these days and bring it over here. I hope you are okay darling as this leaves me but still missing and loving you as much as ever. I’m glad you got a card from Shirley but I’m sorry, I can’t help feeling a wee bit jealous of her, I guess I will always be of any girl you used to know but don’t worry darling, I love you and trust you forever, it is just that I’m really jealous of any girl who is in Canada right now. The weather round here is crazy, yesterday was a lovely spring day and now today it’s been freezing, it even snowed this morning but not for long. I wonder what it will be like tomorrow… I’m sitting here freezing writing this to you as the fire has gone out. I wish from the bottom of my heart that you were here right now to warm me up, somehow I don’t think it would take long. I heard today about a girl married to a Canadian who is not sure now whether she wants to go or not, some of those girls make me so mad, they don’t think about these things before hand, they just go straight into marriage. At least I did think a whole night about it, but seriously darling, I did think it over a lot before I said Yes. But once I did, I was sure, sure that you were the one and only for me and I would follow you to the ends of the earth now (but only if you wanted me). Well darling, I don’t think I have much more news tonight except that I love you and miss you terribly and I would give anything I have right now if I could only see you and lay in your arms once again. It’s now five weeks since I have seen you and that’s the longest we have been parted since we have been married. Well I guess I will close now dearest darling and lay myself down to sleep. Good-night darling, God Bless you and Pleasant Dreams and Good-Luck be with you in everything.Au-revoir. All my love to you forever, your ever-loving wifey,ReneI LOVE YOU (in x’s) FOREVER AND EVER
What a lovely letter this is. It really gives me a glimpse into some pretty big moments in your life. When you were out at the market looking for a trunk, a purchase that represented so much, it makes me think about the actual journey you were about to embark on. It says so much about your character that I admire you for. You were brave, adventurous, willing to take a risk and do something that was scary. Most of all, you believed in love so much and were willing to put your faith in that love and sail across an ocean. I went to the market on the very day you did and found a stall that sold trunks. I was filming a feature with the CBC that day, so it was a rather interesting and unique experience. When I looked in on the trunks and imagined you in your excitement, making this grand purchase, it made me smile. It also made me reflect on how I felt before coming on this journey and how this whole idea came to me in the first place.
After we found your letters, a sense of curiosity began. I started asking Papa more questions about your life together. Two weeks before I left on a life changing trip to California, I was having one of those conversations with Papa and I felt inclined to take a picture of the two of you in front of the Queen Mary. I imagine the picture was taken sometime in the 80’s on one of your many WarBride reunion trips. Myself and a dear friend decided to let the magic of the coastal #1 Highway take us where we needed to go and we set off on a journey with only a start and end location in mind. As we were checking into a hotel along the way, I was flipping through a magazine and to my surprise, found out that the Queen Mary was docked at Long Beach, California, a mere miles away. It was fate. The very next day, we drove to the Queen Mary to recreate the picture of you and Papa, years later. Little did I know that as I positioned myself in front of the very same fence you stood, it was shaping my future and changing the course of my life as I knew it. Something came alive in me that day. I imagined what you were thinking when you looked on to that ship and all that it represented. It was the ship that brought you to your love, your new life and your new home. It was also the fact that I was standing in the very same place as you were, experiencing something profound.
Another part of this letter that strikes me is how you felt about the women who didn’t think before they married a Canadian soldier. Your cheeky comment about taking a least a night to think about it makes me remember back to Papa telling us that very story over and over again.
“After spending a 3 day leave with your Grama, she was about to say good-night and head to bed. It was the perfect moment, so I asked her to marry me. To my surprise, she told me that she had to think about it and was up the stairs and off to bed. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep a wink that night. It wasn’t until after preparing the morning tea that she came over the couch that I slept on to say ‘Right…darling, about that question….my answer is Yes! I would love to marry you.’ She made me the happiest man on the planet that day, and every single day to follow.”
*Sigh* – how sweet! I really am so very grateful to be on this journey. Honouring and documenting our family story.
With a granddaughters love & admiration,