Dear Grama

Happiest girl in the world

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March 26, 1946

 

My Darling,

Here I am once again darling still on the wrong side, but as you say they can’t keep me over here forever.  No letter from you today darling but I sort of expected it as was Tuesday. I hope you are okay darling as this leaves me but very very lonely for you.  Still no sailing papers but it’s one day nearer darling to that Wonderful day.  Everything here is just about the same, it was another lovely Spring day but I didn’t see much of it in the shop.  We had another letter from Albert today, he said he hopes to be coming home about June, what with Danny, him and me it sure is a race to see who gets where first.  We weren’t very busy today in the shop, I guess it was too nice for the people to worry about shopping.  We are just listening to the Vocal Touch on the wireless, that sure is a romantic program, but I really don’t need anything like that to set me thinking about you, I’m doing that all day and nearly all night too.  I took my camera to the shop yesterday, as there was something wrong with it, I couldn’t seem to see through it, anyway he said he thinks it only needs cleaning but he would see to it so maybe I’ll be able to take some snaps soon in case you have forgotten what I look like.  We have been married twenty-one weeks today darling, do you feel like an old married man?  I shall never forget every minute of that day darling as long as I live.  How the car broke down and how when we got back we kept going down the whisky bottle, do you remember darling? It all ended well and being married to you has made me the happiest girl in the world, if only we could be together.  If only I knew exactly when I would be coming I wouldn’t feel as bad, it’s just this uncertainty I don’t like but I suppose I mustn’t grumble, some of the wives have waited a long time more than me.  I sure don’t know how they stand it.  Darling I guess that’s about all the news for tonight I’m afraid it’s not much but I guess you know by now how much I love you and miss you.  I only wish I could show you in actions but one day, please God, darling I’ll show you (are you getting scared?). Well darling, I’ll guess I’ll trot along now and save my energy for then, Good-night darling, God Bless You and may all your dreams be pleasant ones.  Good-Luck Sweetheart.  Au-revoir.  All my love to you forever.

Your everloving wifey,

Rene

I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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March 27, 2013

 

Dear Grama,

It’s so great being able to read about your wedding day.  I always love it when Papa tells the stories of that day and to read this, is just icing on the cake.  It’s especially exciting because our wedding date is set, which has made my mind wander lately thinking about what that day will be like.  To hear you recall details of unfortunate events that happened on that day makes me realize that this is life and of course it happens.  Papa always shares the story of how many loopholes and paperwork he had to sort out to get permission to marry you.  The government sure didn’t make it easy, nor the army, the church, your parents or his.  After bringing in this paper and that, Papa eventually got so sick of it all, that he stormed up to his commanding officers desk, slammed the papers down, and firmly said, “I will marry her, and I don’t care what anyone says.” The officer replied with a calm “well…if you feel that strongly about it…go ahead.”

The two of you didn’t even end up getting married on your original date either.  It was planned that you two would marry on October 27th, 1945.  Due to weather conditions and the fact that Papa, who was stationed in France at the time, couldn’t cross the choppy Channel, you ended up marrying on Tuesday, October 30th, 1945. Papa also tells to story of the car breaking down and how your nieces and nephews greeted you saying “Hi Mrs. Wiebe!” He always giggles when he imitates your irritated response of “Oh shut-up! We’re not married yet!” By the looks of the bar bill and the stories shared, it seems regardless of all that occurred, you sure did have a grand time.  What fun!

I love looking through your wedding photos to notice the little details that paint a perfect picture of the time…your wartime purple skirt-suit, the four person wedding party, and the mini invitations.  Reading up on the time, has also made me realize what it must have been like to get married just after the war…the rations, the quick planning, and the true essence of love that was undeniable on those wedding days. 

Admittedly, I’m not really the kind of gal who’s always dreamed of the day I would walk down the aisle.  My perspective has changed since the cynical stage I went through when I was single.  Bless the 15 friends who got married in those two years, who had to put up with my attitude and continual emphasis on talking about marriage as opposed to wedding day details.  I get it a bit more now, and have actually been quite excited in recent days about things like my dress, wedding colours and making lists of what is truly important to us on that day.  A few things that I value are on that list: documenting the day, making sure our guests and the two of us have the time of our lives and dance the night away, and (this one’s hard to admit, but true) having nice hair.  Of course the MOST important, is that the day is filled with so much love and at the end of the day, I am married to the man of my dreams…my best friend. 

Having heard stories of amazing couples who have experienced wedding day mishaps: lousy D.J.’s, hairstyle disasters, cameramen who forget that the lens cap was on the entire day…and your experience of having to postpone the day all together.  What I can learn from all of the couples above, along with you and Papa, is that as long as we are married at the end of the day…we’re golden!

 

With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,

Carly

xoxox

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Dear Grama

Chapters of Life

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March 25, 1946

 

My Darling,

Many thanks for the three smashing letters I got from you today, darling.  I hope you are quite okay as this leaves me but just longing for you.  Everything back here is very much the same, still no sailing papers but I guess we haven’t waited long enough but it sure is hard waiting, but I guess it’s true what they say all good things come to those that wait do you think so darling? Janey and I have just gone mad and moved all the furniture around, you know me for moving furniture, when we get together I guess you’ll never know from one day to the another where everything is going to be, just your crazy little wife darling.  How is the work going darling? I hope they are not working you too hard, and I wish from the bottom of my heart that I was there to console you in the evenings when you come home.  It sure does seem a waste for me to be over here but I guess all we can do is blame the Canadian Government.  I think the cooker being gas is wonderful darling as that is what I am used to, I just wondered what it was.  Talking about that night and us frying the chips, Jane and I were doing another bill of remembering the other night and we were thinking about that afternoon when you and Bob came in from the Brit. one afternoon late and we pretended to be cross with you and you brought ices and they were on the table melting, do you remember darling, it took all my time to stop myself bursting out laughing.  By the way darling next time I see you remind me to be cross with you (some hopes), so you think if you had put on the charm (Casanova) you would have got what you wanted, well darling what a pity you didn’t try, oh! Yeah, something tells me I wouldn’t be Mrs. Wiebe now if you had.  Seriously though darling, I know you wouldn’t have because we were just made for each other and to wait, looks like we do nothing else but, and we are married now.  It’s been a real lovely day over here too to-day, real lovely Spring weather but my Spring and Summer will start when I am with my darling husband.  Guy Lombardo was on the wireless to-night so I brushed up my dancing (with Dixie) just to see if I had forgotten anything, Mum thought I had gone mad.  Then he played our song so I just had to sit down and listen, and boy did he ever make me feel a little on the lonely side.  Well darling, I guess that’s about all the news for tonight except that I love you, miss you and long for you terribly but you know that don’t you darling? I think the next person who asks me when I am going I’ll throw something at them, did I say that, gee! I sound tough don’t I? Well darling, I guess now I’ll go into bed and dream of you.  Good-night darling, God Bless You and may all your dreams be pleasant ones, Good Luck Sweetheart, Au-revoir.  All my love to you forever. 

Your everloving wifey.

Rene

I LOVE YOU Always Darling (in x’s)

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March 25th, 2013

Dear Grama,

Mom has gone home today and as I reflect back on what a gift the past 2 weeks have been, I feel grateful.  It was absolutely wonderful having her here with me, on this journey within your journey.

We’ve made some wonderful memories around the world together and this just adds to the list.  In 2003, after my first set of university exams, she took me on a long dreamt about trip to New York City.  For as long as I can remember, I had a fascination with the lights and wonder of that great city.  It was our first mother/daughter trip and the bond and memories made on that trip will last forever.  The second was her visit to Korea in 2008.  I had been there for 3 months, and when she mentioned coming to visit, I was beyond excited.  I remember, for the first time ever, experiencing being the one to sort out and take care of details for the 2 of us.  It was an interesting role reversal being in charge of getting us around, having to admit that I got us lost, and having her look to me for the answers.  I remember feeling honoured that she put that trust in me and I could mother my mother momentarily.  Her visit to London was yet another honour…not only to add the generational link in the quest I’m living over here, but to have yet another experience with her that would deepen our mother/daughter bond.

The whole reason for her visit was because of an email I sent to her about being on the tube and watching a mother and daughter giggle over a shared exchange.  It made me want to hug her, talk for hours with her and just BE with her.  That was all it took.  After a “you have to do this…this opportunity may not come around again” nudge from dad, her flight was booked.  She felt the same when you and Papa brought us to England in 1995.  You weren’t well, it was going to cost quite a bit and it was a lot of work planning travel for 7.  As she looked backed on that time, she was so glad we all did that together, as you passed 3 years later.

Over a glass of wine in a restaurant at the bottom of your street, we talked about the fact that in a way, this is the end of a chapter for me.  Going forward, I will have a (lovely, wonderful, handsome) husband, we will buy our first home, we will be thinking of starting a family of our own.  My life, as I know it, will be forever changed.  Of course mom and I can always promise to plan weekend mother/daughter trips, but the truth is, 2 weeks together just her and I may not happen again.  Life goes on, life changes as you make the beautiful decision to share your life with someone.

I assume you are nodding your head with a smile as you hear me say this, as you know exactly what I’m talking about.  You made this kind of decision when committing to sharing your life with Papa.   You turned the last page of the chapter in your life that you lived with your mum.  Along with that decision was the reality that going the distance to Canada for the man you loved meant saying goodbye to your mum.  That must have been hard, knowing that due to time, money and distance, there was a chance you may not see her again.  I’m happy to know that you did see your mum once more, when you came over for Pauline’s wedding in 1955.  After another sail across the Atlantic, it was then that you came home to tell Papa you were ready to have another baby: my mom.

Reading your letters gives me a glimpse into these incredible chapters of your life.  Each and every one teaches me something, 67 years later.  I can’t help but think about those who will someday read the chapters of my life’s letter and what they will learn from me.

With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,

Carly

xoxox

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Dear Grama

Sweet memories

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March 17th, 1946

My darling,

Once more here is your lonely little wifey again.  I hope you are okay darling as this leaves me but missing you like hell.  Everything back here is very much the same.  I have just come in from Joe and Pheobe’s, we had quite a pleasant evening, my Aunt was there and two of my cousins so we spent most of the time jawing, you say your relatives can jaw, but blimey!! You should hear mine.  It was St. Patrick’s Day today and it sure made me lonesome coming home to see all the crowds merry and singing, to top it all I had to sit opposite two Canadians in the tube, every little thing just makes me all the more lonesome for you.  I have been thinking all this weekend about you (for a change) and wondering how you spent your first weekend as a civvy.  I bought myself a pair of shoes yesterday, I hope you will like them when you see them, but I think you will as they are nothing like sandals.  By the way darling I wrote and told Eileen you had bought a bedroom suite (showing off like) and she said Red also bought one in December, she said “they seem to be making sure we have a bed to sleep on when we get there.” Do you think she is right darling? But who cares, I kind of like it…don’t ask me what.  We had another letter from Albert yesterday and he seems quite okay thank goodness.   He said he climbed a mountain the other day just for something to do, these crazy Finebergs.  Joe bought an airmail letter yesterday so you can expect a letter any day now, but you know those two, letter writing isn’t one of their good points.  I hope you had a good time at the party last Sunday but I sure wish I had been there with you, all I do these days is wish but they say if you wish long enough your wishes comes true.  Janey and I made pigs of ourselves dinner time we had a tin of plums, as they have released some so we practically had a tin between us as mum didn’t want any.  I don’t think I have much more news darling except I love you, I miss you, I want you, and I long for you.  It seems ages since you went and sometimes when I lie in bed and count the weeks, it doesn’t seem possible that you were with me 9 weeks ago, but never mind darling, let’s hope, please God, that it won’t be long now and that I shall see you long before that time again.  Well I guess I had better prepare for bed and sleep as it’s about half past twelve and tomorrow is Monday and as my husband isn’t here to lay in bed with, I suppose I’ll get up and go to work.  So goodnight my dearest darling, God bless you and may all your dreams be pleasant ones.  Good Luck darling.  Au-revoir.  All my love to you forever.  Your ever loving wifey.

Rene

I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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March 19th, 2013

Dear Grama,

Mom and I have been having the best time over here and we sure have felt you right here with us in so many ways.  We’ve seen the sights, found my wedding dress, went to the Ritz for high tea, took a weekend trip to Birmingham and have shared many laughs.  The highlight of her visit has, by far, been connecting to family.  Mom reached out to some family members before she arrived and sure enough, we heard back from Pauline, your niece, Phoebe & Joe’s daughter.  We said we were pretty flexible and could meet up any time, so her and her daughter suggested the 18th.  As I was leafing through your letters, I noticed there were two letters on the 18th, one from you and one from Phoebe.  When I showed it to mom, her eyes lit up “it’s Phoebe’s daughter we’re meeting up with tomorrow.” Thanks for arranging that Grama…cause there’s no way I believe that was just a coincidence.

That day and that visit, was the greatest gift for both mom and I.  Pauline reminds us so much of you…her mannerisms, her lively spirit, and her sense of humour.   We laughed, shared stories, asked questions and had the loveliest visit with her and her daughter.  She was 9 when you and Papa got married and remembers you coming over for visits with her mom and dad before you left for Canada.  She said in a time that was so uncertain, with no idea of what tomorrow would bring, you all had a way of letting loose, having fun and sharing a laugh.  She shared her memories of you coming back to England for her wedding 9 years after you left for Canada on the Queen Mary.

When mom was hugging her goodbye, she said that she had a hard time letting go.  She said it reminded her of hugging you.  I, too, felt overwhelmed with love, gratitude and joy.  I have been living this quest for almost a year now…mentally, emotionally and for the past two months, physically.  THIS day, those moments shared with Pauline and her daughter, made this quest even bigger than I ever imagine.  I felt connected.   I felt authentic.  I felt whole.  I felt…home.

After our heartfelt goodbye to our relatives, who had travelled 3 hours by bus to meet with us, I found myself in the dress aisle of a department store in a heap of tears.  I was overwhelmed with emotion.

My mom said it so perfectly “Today brought back sweet memories of my mom – the best times with my mom & her spirit was alive in that pub today.”

With a granddaughters love & admiration,

Carly

Xoxox

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20 Reasons

Over the past 20 days I have been posting a reason & picture-a-day as to why you should, so graciously, contribute to my indiegogo campaign.  I have less than 24 hours left which means you can still get some of my cool perks: postcards, hand written letters, original photographs, canvas prints and BEST of all…a signed copy of the BOOK. Thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all of the love, support & encouragement.

To grab a perk & support my on this journey, click here ——-> Indiegogo – Life’s Letter

20 Reasons

Reason #1 – You are making this dream possible for me.  Thank you for all of the generous love & support.

Reason #2 – It feels good to support creative people.  Singer-songwriters, makeup artists, hair stylists, writers & photographers.

Reason #3 – “20 years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do.  So throw off the bowline.  Sail away from the safe harbour.  Catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore.  Dream.  Discover.” ~ Mark Twain

Reason #4 – It’s all quite simple: Cherish time together.

Reason #5 – As Kid President says “it’s everybody’s duty to give the world a reason to dance!” You’re making it possible for me to fulfill that duty.

Reason #6 – Dream BIG, world!

Reason #7 – This is a parallel journey about faith, life & love.

Reason #8 – It all started with an idea.  That idea became a dream.  That dream became a reality.  You helped make it possible.

Reason #9 – Get excited about the postman again.  Want a hand written letter from yours truly? Check out the tea time perk.

Reason #10 – Your support is the reason this dream is BIGGER that I ever imagined!

Reason #11 – It’s my family story that honours an important time in history.

Reason #12 – July 1946 my Grama took the Queen Mary to Canada.  July 2013 my hope is to take the Queen Mary 2 home.  You can help make this dream come true.

Reason #13 – There’s something special about having a signed copy of a book! Check out this cool perk and more.

Reason #14 – It’s a chance to own an original photograph or canvas print taken by your truly.

Reason #15 – To share the story of such brave, adventurous, full of life women: the War Brides.

Reason #16 – It honours the beauty of letter writing.

Reason #17 – Who doesn’t love a postcard?

Reason #18 – Be part of getting “Life’s Letter” onto shelves.

Reason #19 – This is an authentic journey of family connection.

Reason #20 – You can get in on airmail lovin’

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Dear Grama

The sweet taste

3/12/1946
 
My Darling,
Here I am once again on the wrong side of the Atlantic.  No letter from you today but I would have been surprised if there was one as it is Tuesday.  I hope you are okay, darling as this leaves me but missing and longing for you terribly.  Everything back here is very much the same, the usual routine.  I have just written to Albert.  It’s his birthday today he’s now 23, I can’t imagine it because he always seems to me, my kid brother but he would murder me if he heard me call him that now.  I expect by now, you are demobbed darling and you are now a civilian, I done right by letting the bureau know that you were discharged on the 5th of March, although I told a lie by a few days as she said yesterday that it makes a big difference.  Now I have the feeling that I may get my sailing papers any day, it’s a wonderful feeling darling as you can guess and it’s the only thing that keeps me cheerful these days.  But the trouble is that one day my hopes get raised and then the next day I think it may be months before I do come over, but never mind darling one day, please God, we will be together forever never to be parted again.  I didn’t do much at work today except counting points.  Another customer gave me a present today, a belt, I do alright don’t I? I meant to tell you this before but I forgot, Joe made me laugh ever so much on Sunday.  We were having tea and I said “I better not pour out of the teapot after you, Joe as I might get twins” so he said “Yes, do and call them Willie & Winnie,” he is crackers isn’t he? But I guess it runs in our family, don’t you dare say yes.  Phoebe is going to buy me a cookery book, don’t laugh, and I’m really going to study the art.  Elsie has just been up here telling Janey and me all her troubles, she started talking about 10 and it’s now half past 11, that’s women for you, still I guess when men start they are just as bad.  Do you know darling I was just thinking I haven’t had a drink since you have gone, don’t you think I am good? But you know ever since that night I got gin soaked I guess I have gone off drink.  Well darling I guess that’s about all the news for tonight.  I tasted something I haven’t had for 6 years today, my aunt brought mum a banana today so we all had a bite each, I wished too while I was eating it, I’ll bet you can guess what I wished.  All I can think of to say now darling is that I love you and long to see you terribly, at the end of each day I am happy because it’s one day nearer to you.  Please God.  Cheerio darling, Good-night, God-Bless you and may all your dreams be pleasant ones.  Good-Luck.  Au-revoir.  All my love to you forever. 
Your everloving wifey,
Rene
I LOVE YOU DARLING (in x’s) 
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3/12/2013
Dear Grama,
Today was a fabulous day.  Having mom here is truly a gift.  The opportunity to spend quality time with her before I enter the exciting world of being a newlywed is pretty special.  It was the first time she had seen me since the engagement, so of course the first day together was dedicated to browsing in shops.  The engagement party dress was first on the list and when I tried on the very first one, I just so happened to notice a shiney coin at my feet.  Every time I find a coin it makes me think of you.  I’ve got quite the collection started, actually.  The rest of the day was spent exploring, with hopes that we would just so happen to stumble upon a bridal boutique.  As we turned a corner in Islington and stopped for a photo op, we both looked up in awe.  There is was.  Exactly what we had pictured tucked away on a quaint (I hope you’re okay with this terminology…because it’s true) side street lined with cafes, bistros, boutiques and specialty shops!  As I stood there looking in, with my hands held together as if I was already holding my bouquet, I said “She’s beautiful! Look at that dress, Mom.” We must have been staring in for a while, because the shop owner motioned us to come in, despite the CLOSED FOR FITTING sign on the door.  She made us an appointment and we go back later this week for my very own appointment.  We’re very excited, to say the least.
The other special part of the day was reading through your letter together, reflecting on things you mentioned, and really taking in the message.  I had mentioned to mom the week before that there was an upcoming letter that you write about having a banana for the first time in 6 years.  At that time, mom wrote me this email:
Carly,
I feel like I have to write to you.  I have been thinking a lot about what you learned today about Grama sharing the sweet taste of a banana with her family after a 6 year ration.  I can’t even imagine.  It really illustrates how tough things were back then, but it also got me thinking about their life together and how they came to Canada with no jobs, a little money, but lots of love.  They built a life together, made a very successful living, saved for a fun retirement and were able to buy a vacation home in Florida and travel the world.  What a dream…and that’s where you are today.  Full of unknowns, but the one sure thing is your love for Adam.  Don’t you see, that’s all you need.  I know you see it, but sometimes we get distracted by our modern world, and our gremlins.  So my love, you have been given a rare gift, a “time machine” in the words of a good friend.  Use that machine, treasure every day, and know that when you are back with those you love, it will be like that sweet taste of a forbidden fruit.
Love always,
Mom
As we got home from a celebratory evening of wedding day dreaming, we stopped at a shop to make one last purchase.  As we read through your letter together and shared the sweet taste of a banana….we each made a wish.
With a granddaughters love & admiration,
Carly
xoxox
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Dear Grama

Two women in my life

March 8, 2013

Dear Grama

As I was reading through your letters from this week to choose one to share and write about, I just couldn’t find one that fit.  I think the reason is because today is International Woman’s Day and all I want to talk about is you, and me, and all the amazing ladies I know. Also, the fact that the next 3 days are biggies: My mom’s birthday tomorrow, British Mother’s Day on Sunday and my mom’s arrival to the UK on Monday, I thought it was appropriate.  I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again: You were an inspiring, brave, courageous woman and you truly taught me so much.  The gift of the current perspective that I have, is that I get to learn   life lessons from you that were instilled way before my time and long after yours.  You wrote these letters in 1946 and I am here learning from them in 2013.  That’s what I call a legacy.  My hope someday is that my daughter, granddaughter & great granddaughter will learn from me.  What I’m doing right now, I feel, is a lesson in the making that will teach the young women in my family who come after me the importance of even having a day called “International Women’s Day.” 

The lessons I have learned from you on this journey so far have been amazing ones about faith, love and following my heart.  The other valuable lessons you are teaching me are about motherhood.  Not only did I get to feel your love as a grandmother, but I also get to feel the ripple effects of your role as a mother, in how your daughter went on to raise me.  My mom is a wonderful, intelligent and compassionate woman.  You would be so proud of her, Grama.  She just retired from a successful career, raised two wonderful children (if I do say so myself) and has been happily married to her best friend for 35 years.  My mom is the most supportive, kind-hearted mother a gal could ever ask for.  She has a great sense of humour, cries when she laughs, loves dancing in the kitchen and is hands down my #1 fan.  She’s the real deal, Grama.  Just amazing.  So thank you for raising such an incredible daughter. 

Today I was mentioned in a blog post about “Inspiring Women in Travel.” I’m not sure why it took me by such surprise, but it did.  The list is of women who are off doing inspirational things in the world, and I somehow seem to feel that I am just at the beginning of all of this, the rookie, if you will.  I’m absolutely honoured and want to say a BIG huge thank you to Cristina for mentioning me.  What is also true, is that I don’t know how to use most features of my blog, I’m new to the blogging and writing industries that I’ve just placed myself into, and I am sometimes so filled with doubt that I want to take the next plane home.  If you and mom taught me anything, it was to be my best self, show up authentically and enjoy every day.  So even though this is scary, the foundation that you both instilled in me at such a young age, will keep me going.  I will continue on this journey within a journey, creating my legacy one day at a time. 

 

With a granddaughters love & admiration,

Carly

Xoxox

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I would love to hear from my friends, family & followers: What women in your life have had an impact on who you are today? 

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