Dear Grama

Always a War Bride

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2/26/1946

My Darling Nick,

Here I am once again with a few lines, wishing I was speaking to you instead of miles away writing. No letter from you today, but I’m somehow not surprised, for some unknown reason I never get a letter from you on Tuesday. I hope you are okay darling as this leaves me but just as lonely for you as ever. The weather has been terrible here today. Winter seems to have returned to England, it’s been snowing all day since eight o’clock this morning. It’s still snowing now and if it keeps up all night I don’t think I will be able to go on my bike tomorrow. I was just thinking when I was cycling home this evening, that this is the sort of evening I would love to sit by a nice cozy fire with you listening to the wireless, what a waste it is that we are apart, still never mind darling, one day please God we will be together for good. This morning I got a letter from the Canadian Wives Club, to say they are meeting on March the 11th, they say they hope I will attend if it’s only to say, Goodbye (if I am one of the lucky ones). How I only wish I was. They say that details will be given enabling members to enrol as Overseas Honorary Members of the Travel Association of Britain and Ireland, a privilege granted to Canadian Wives in England. I am dying to know what it all means. Rang up this morning to a firm that collects and delivers parcels and asked them would they pick up my trunk at Phoebe’s and deliver here, as I would like to have it here ready, anyways they said they would as soon as possible. I don’t think I have very much more news tonight darling all I can think of is how much I love you and miss you and wishing we were together…I hope all your family are okay and that they are taking care of my darling, husband for me. They are just going to play the Vocal Touch on the wireless, I love listening to that especially when I am writing to you. Well darling, I guess I had better sign off now and sit back and listen and dream of you, Good night darling, God Bless You and pleasant dreams.

Au-revoir and Good Luck. All my love to you forever, your ever-loving wifey.

Rene

I LOVE YOU (in x’s) ALWAYS

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2/27/2013

Dear Grama,

To my surprise, I am starting to see a trend here.  I struggle with getting creativity at the computer.  Even if I up and take it to a cafe, museum, restaurant or library.  I sit there staring at the blank screen….and….I’ve got nothing.  I’m not sure if it’s the distraction of Facebook and the likes, or if it’s that I have an old soul that is passionate about cursive.  Maybe I have a genealogical connection to pen and paper, who knows?! Either way, I’m in trouble, because I have a book to write.  Guess I have to just roll with the punches and handwrite my way through loads of journals. This week you’ve been missing Papa like crazy, which I must say that I’m feeling, too.  After the media craze died down a bit and I’ve been able to breathe and catch up on some sleep, I just really miss my Adam.  I suppose it’s natural, and like you say, there’s no sense in dwelling on it.  What I enjoyed about your letter today was your involvement with the Canadian Wives Club.  I love that it was always a part of your life, even after your move to Canada.  All in the name of research (and trying to find something that would spark my writing) I came across some CBC clips of War Bride Reunions throughout the years.  I was watching a news clip from war brides in 1986 who went back to retrace the journey their husbands made liberating country after country and to visit the homeland again.  As they were scanning the crowd of the excited brides, some returning back to England for the first time in 40 years, there you were.  You were at the front of the line, shaking hands with the mayor with the biggest smile on your face.  There’s even a clip of Papa carrying the bags behind you with a grin.  Looks like the CBC feature last week they did on my story was truly following in YOUR footsteps.  You star, you.  I’m also very excited to tell you that mom’s coming to visit for 2 whole weeks.  It’s going to add a whole new generational element to the story, which is so very special.  We’re going to reach out to some relatives and talk a lot about you, I presume.  It’s very fitting that she will arrive 2 days after her birthday and a day after British mother’s day, to retrace the steps of her mother with me.

With a granddaughters love & admiration,

Carly

xoxox

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5 thoughts on “Always a War Bride

  1. John Moran says:

    Carly, thanks again for your blog. That’s great to hear that “The Jude” is heading over to spend some time with you. You two will have a hoot!!! All the best youngin’.

  2. Verheyen Cecile says:

    Hi Carly, what a beautiful pic with your mom andf grandma!!! Love it and I stole it..will put it on my screen…what a beautiful little girl you were…and still are (but not little anymore)..you grew up to a wise intelligent young women..and I ‘m proud to know you and having you in the family. Of course you miss Adam? If you wouldn’t it would not be normal. but your mum is joining you soon…and that will be wonderful!!
    And Spring is in the air….so the sun will be there…and I think we were all looking forward to that moment!
    It’s my daughter’s 54th birthday today…OMG how old am I ??? may not think of it! Time is going so fast…..
    so enjoy every moment!!!

    • Thanks for sharing Cecile. Happy birthday to your daughter. A mother daughter bond is a precious one and I am so excited to have my mom here next week. xoxox

  3. Your post today made me think of the relationship between people, places, things and labels too. Like what it must be like to be called a War Bride. It’s amazing how events in human history ask that we adapt in the moment, in situ, and frequently without notice. Then, we create ideas/concepts and even manifest new inventions and methods to cope with the new situation.

    And yet, we human creatures figure out how to love in all that. Somehow (against all odds really), your grandfather and your grandmother were able to meet (briefly), establish a connection, leverage existing technology (mail/post), create love, marry, and eventually be brought together in Canada. They raised a family and lived an entire lifetime as though they had always known each other. For your grandmother, she did this in a distant and very different land. What courage they both had!

    Now, you are retracing your grandmother’s steps, on your own personal journey—but with her constantly there in spirit. As you miss your fiancé Adam, I imagine that your grandmother is smiling as if to say that she understands exactly what you are experiencing. The sadness of being apart. The longing. The excitement to begin your lives together.

    There is one important difference that should be noted however. We don’t have a label for you! Your grandmother became a War Bride and enjoyed some comfort (I’m guessing) in knowing she wasn’t alone because there were so many like her at that time! The closest thing we have to describe you is “Celebrity”, but that doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of what you are really doing because we tend to use that label rather indiscriminately.

    I make up a story that you are connecting the dots and validating a complex journey that was part of a massive human effort we call: World War II. You are uniquely qualified to do this because of your lineage, your talents, your marital status, and most importantly, your commitment to honor your grandmother and all the War Brides. In telling your grandmother’s story—and living your own life simultaneously, we spectators of your journey get to feel the energy of what it must have been like. We get to LIVE her experience and yours.

    So, you can see that the “Celebrity” label is wholly inadequate. Perhaps we should consider some of these labels for you Carly: Time Traveler, Historical Detective, Adventurer, Avatar, and Author of course. While there may be times when you might feel uncertain on this journey of yours, just remember that your grandmother didn’t have certainty either. She was living her life waiting to reconnect with her love—just like you! How proud she would have been to see this journey of yours. It validates her bravery and commitment in such a unique and personal way. Thanks for doing this Carly. You are living this experience for the benefit of us all.

    • I am in tears, Chris. After reading your blog post response to my blog post (I am truly grateful for every word), I am in a state of reflection. I feel honoured every single day of this journey and all I can say to your comment right now is: THANK YOU. From the bottom of my heart. xoxo

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