Dear Grama

Yes to LOVE

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May 24th, 1946

My Own Darling Nick,
Many thanks darling for the three letters that were waiting for me when I got in to-night, they were just what I needed to buck up my morale after another lonely week without you darling. I hope this finds you fit and well as it leaves me but with a very lonely heart that with the passing of time just gets all the more lonely just for you darling. Well darling, I packed up work to-day so I sure hope it won’t be long now and I will get those wonderful papers. I will still go and give him a hand now and again until I get my notice, P.G. soon, just to do his books and such. I got a couple more presents to-day, a nice little sort of dish thing that you hand round sweets when we have company, and the other present was a very nice pair of gloves. I didn’t tell a lot of people I was going because I hate goodbyes, Mr Samuel’s said I should of done as I would have got a lot of presents but I don’t mind. I’m glad that you are getting fatter darling because I’m sure you could do with a bit more, that must be your mother’s cooking. I’ll have to ask her if she will give me a few hints. Talking about my cooking by the way, I’m getting quite good at baking cakes, even if I do say so myself. I bake two every week-end, and they get eaten up so that’s a good sign isn’t it, of course I don’t know how I will go cooking something else. Well we can eat cakes all day long can’t we? Oh Yeah! Naty is having a little party and a few drinks on Sunday for his little Rosalind and of course he has invited us all. I’m going to buy something for her to take, but wouldn’t it be heavenly if you were here to go with me. When we all (Canadian Brides) came out of the club last Monday, a husband was outside waiting for his wife and boy did we envy her, having her husband still here, but still having you over there does make me No. 1 priority. I’m sorry I called you a brute darling, and I take it all back (I’m getting scared of that spanking), I don’t even remember why I called you it now, anyway I promise to only call you Casanova from now on, okay?
Well darling, I guess that’s the news for another day so I suppose I had better close and retire to bed. This time last year you were just getting ready to come on your first leave, and we were both wondering what the other was like weren’t we? Just think darling I was wondering if I would like you, but as soon as I looked at you I knew it was love and the real McCoy. Now I guess I’ll have to run along wishing you Good-night darling, God Bless You and may all your dreams be pleasant darling. Good Luck Sweet. Au-revoir hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever.
Your everloving wifey,
Rene
I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 24th, 2013

Dear Grama,
Well isn’t this a coincidence…today marks a very important day in my relationship with Adam. It’s the day we officially started dating. Our form of getting to know each other through letters was Facebook, which went on for about a month. And it was this time last year that we sat in a restaurant just outside of Leamington, having those awkward first date conversations, blushing at the smallest thing, and full of wonder as to where this would all lead. I must say, I secretly knew it was the real McCoy, too. How amazing to read that this time in 1945, almost the same week and all, you and Papa were having your version of the same conversation.
It marks another important day in our story, because yesterday…we welcomed a 3rd niece into our lives. She is perfect and beautiful. It is amazing to think of all of the stories we will have to pass on to the generations that come after us. Family is a beautiful thing. The momma of this angel has been a part of my life for almost 20 years, and it’s so amazing that she and her husband will be my brother and sister-in-law. She actually had it in mind to introduce us, but turns out, fate was already bringing Adam and I together. Two of our dear friends had already taken the lead at inviting us both over on a regular basis so we were coincidentally the only non-couple in the room. We got the hint. We also knew each other from afar throughout high school, but didn’t cross paths much.
It’s also a special day, because today is Adam’s parent’s 33rd wedding anniversary. They are a true inspiration and I am so grateful to be a part of this beautiful family. We actually have 9 couples in our immediate families alone…parents, grandparents & siblings…that we will learn from & be inspired by as we enter into married life ourselves. On May 24, 2014, to be exact. One year from today we will exchange our own vows and make a promise to share this wonderful life together. Surrounded by our amazing, supportive, loving family & friends who we are beyond grateful for.
All of this…first dates, weddings, babies & anniversaries…reminds me of this wonderful video I’ve found and the fact that we ALL have a story and have said YES to love. Every family. Every person. Every life.
Thank you for sharing your story with me.
With a granddaughters love & admiration,
Carly
Xoxox
Ps…he also knows that if I am the cook of the house, we’ll be eating cake all day long, too.

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I’d love to hear something special about your story….special memories about your first dates, weddings, anniversaries. Share in the comments! xoxo

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Dear Grama

Compliments connect

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May 14th, 1946

My Darling Nick,
Thank you darling for the two lovely letters I got to-night. I hope you are okay darling as it leaves me but loving you terrifically even though for a while it has to be from a distance. Things are very much the same back here, same old routine. We got a letter from Albert this morning and he said they have been told to stand by ready to move from the 15th, which is to-morrow, and he reckons to be here by about the end of June. The way I have worked it out I shall just about miss him, which will be a shame, but I would give up anything in this world to be with you darling and when I get those papers, P.G.E., I shall be the happiest girl in the world. To know I shall soon be in your arms again. Janey said to-day that they had better put Welcome Home Albert in one window and Ta Ta Rene in the other one, it’s going to be terribly hard to say Goodbye to everyone darling but because I love you it’s worth it. There weren’t any celebrations here darling on May 8th because they are saving them all up for June 8th, that is going to be the big day. Naty was round to-night, Julia and baby Rosalind are getting on fine, they hope to come home from the hospital on Friday. They ordered a pram from two places to make sure they have got one so Naty said if the other one is ready by about August, would I like it? I wonder if I will be thinking of prams by then. I did a bit of cobbling the other day and nailed some rubbers on my shoes so Janey has just measured her heels and asked me if I would get her a pair tomorrow and bang them on for her, I reckon I must be the Jill of all trades, but my next job is going to be looking after you darling, please God soon. I guess that rounds up the news for to-day darling, another day nearer to you darling, if I had my way those ships going backwards and forwards would be going at top speed just to hurry things up a bit. Well now I guess I ‘ll go to bed darling. Good-night sweetheart, God Bless You and may all your dreams be pleasant. Good-Luck dear. Au-revoir hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever.
Your everloving wifey,
Rene
I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 21, 2013

Dear Grama,
Today I can’t help but think of how tough it must have been for you to leave your family. My journey is entirely different in that sense. I’m missing my family and fiancé every single day, but will be reunited with all of them soon. Both my family & the family I’m marrying into. It’s something that I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for you. Reading about other war brides experiences leaving their parents and thinking about yours, makes my heart ache. I believe you only saw your mom once more after moving to Canada, and your brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews were only sporadically together again with you for special occasions. That is another gift your letters have brought to our family. We have connected with over 10 of your relatives…mostly nieces and nephews and their families. Last weekend I was lucky enough to meet up with Naty & Julia’s daughter, Vivian…Rosalind’s younger sister. We had a lovely visit, shared stories & brought memories back to life through many tucked away photographs. In a few letters before this one, you wrote to Papa about what a proud Father Naty was. You said he was beaming with pride to announce the arrival of the 6lb 5oz baby Rosalind. I wanted to share this with Vivian & Rosalind because it reflects something so beautiful: the gift of sharing the way someone sees you & your loved ones. You complimenting your brother on his graceful transition into fatherhood that would forever change his life.
It reminds me of the video below from Soul Pancake. It’s something that we really should all be doing. Giving those compliments that are sometimes so obvious that we don’t feel need to be said, but are such a gift to share.
It makes me think about the things you must have said to your family before your departure to Canada. For me, being over here in London for the past four months has been both up & down. I have realized that I really love using the approach of telling those who mean the most to me just how much I love & appreciate them.  It’s sometimes in a card, a hand written letter, an email or a text and regardless of the form, it has made me feel connected to them in a whole new way. It’s a type of connection that I’m learning through you.
With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,
Carly
xoxox

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Dear Grama

Admiration from afar

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May 20, 1946

 

My Darling Nick,

Here’s that very lonely wife of yours once again with a few lines.  No letter from you today and I was really disappointed as I usually get one or two on a Monday but I hope there will be one tomorrow morning.  I have just come in from another evening at the club.  They didn’t have much to tell us tonight though, only that they have reached 35,000 and that the Queen Mary is sailing on Wednesday.  How I wish I was going to be on it, but maybe I will be lucky the next time.  Nothing much else happened today, it was quite an ordinary day, but they are all ordinary darling without you, the only good thing about it is that it’s one day nearer.  I shouldn’t be at all surprised if Eileen doesn’t go on the Queen Mary this time, I haven’t heard from her for a long time but she promised to ring me up or come and see me before she goes as she will have to come to London before she goes.  I have talked to so many wives to-night and heard so many repat numbers that by now they are all going round in my head but anyway, it’s all very exciting but the time I am patiently waiting for and which will be the most exciting is the day I get that telegram, please God soon.  I hope this finds you okay darling and that you are not working too hard.  I’m quite okay but missing you like hell.  One girl I was talking to hasn’t seen her husband for a year as she has had a baby in between, I think if I thought I weren’t going to see you until next January I should go crazy or something.  This past five months without you have been terrible darling, the only good thing is that they are behind us and it can’t be long now.  Little Mickey said to me the other day “Uncle Nick is in Canada,” as if he had to tell me.  Well darling I think that’s the news for to-day, Janey has just gone into bed with a book, she looks like she is all set for the night, I don’t like reading in bed, but there’s one thing I do like doing in bed, aren’t I getting terrible, still all I can do is dream these days, but I hope it won’t be long now.  Well darling now I guess I’ll run along so I will say Good-night my darling.  God Bless You and may all your dreams be pleasant ones.  Good-Luck.  Au-revoir.  Hope to see you soon.  All my love to you forever.

Your everloving wifey,
Rene

I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 20, 2013

Dear Grama,

Well, today officially marks 2 months to departure date.  It’s a completely different experience knowing when I’ll be leaving, but a longing much the same.  I miss my Adam daily, hourly, and every tiny moment in between.

I went to Primrose Hill yesterday, with the girl who lives in the flat next to me.  She introduced me to it on a whim and I was quite surprised that it was only a short walk from your house.  It was fabulous being up there and having such a spectacular view of this beautiful city.  It’s a place of perspective shifts, that’s for sure.  It’s a completely different kind of appreciation than when you’re smack dab in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Central London.  It’s admiration from afar…like the kind you felt for Papa and I feel for Adam.  It’s an equally beautiful perspective that I’m learning to embrace and enjoy.

As I explained to Sophia how much I wished Adam were here to see the view, she said something that got me thinking.  She said, “Won’t it be lovely though, to bring Adam and your kids here some day.  You’ll tell them what it was like for you back in 2013, and share the story of their great grandmothers life, way back in 1946.”

It obviously made me think of you, imagining the very same thoughts.  Imagining what your family would some day think of your adventure and decision to follow your heart to Canada.  How it would shape both your life and theirs.

When we came back here with you in 1995, 3 years before you passed, I didn’t quite get it.  Mind you, I was mostly caught up in the Spice Girl inspired platform shoes that I bought that were so cool and way ahead of fashion back home.  Or maybe it was the lights of Piccadilly, and the magic of the theatrical performances that entranced me.  I don’t even think I knew what a war bride was at that age.  I just knew you to have a great accent, a cheerful and contagious laugh, and a soul that had more character than one could ever imagine.

Little did I know that 18 years later I’d be living here, connecting with you and your story way more deeply than ever before.  When I think about what I’ll have to give to my children and grandchildren after all of this…it will be the stories.  The form will be dated I am sure, much like letters are now, blogging will be something of the past, but it will be a story wrapped up in a bow none-the-less.  It will be a gift that will enable a glimpse into the life of Mommy, Grama, Great-Grama or Aunt, many years later.

With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,

Carly

xoxox

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How are you documenting your life’s letter…scrapbooks, albums, letters or journals? I’d love to hear some creative ideas.

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Dear Grama

My Life’s Letter

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Dear Grama,

I had a completely different letter written when I came to sit down at the computer, but something’s happening with me over here in my little flat, just a quick 6 minute tube ride away from where you wrote these very letters.  The letters that I sit & read every day that shape my week and represent so much.  These letters that have brought me over here on this quest that I made up from a simple, tiny idea.

I wish I could really talk to you.  I wish it more than anything.  The things I would ask you and tell you, starting with the simple fact of what it is I’m doing here…I mean the real nitty-gritty of what this is all about.  There are way too many signs that have told me that you are okay with all of this…making your letters public on this BIG OLD interweb craziness, that I’m sure you would find amazing and nonsensical, all at the same time.  I would like to just tell you though and see what you really have to say about it all.  I would imagine that you would dig it.  We all know you would be especially smitten about all the media attention you & I both have received.  Growing up I remember seeing British newspapers sprawled amoungst the Leamington Post & Windsor Star in your living room.  I made it into the Daily Mirror and that one I always remember at the top of the pile.

I guess it’s that I am at a point where I’m coming to realize the letters are going to end.  I have only 67 days left before my departure on the RMS Queen Mary II, and the truth is…your letters stop way before that actual day.  I’m not sure why… if some went missing, if there’s an explanation in those last letters that I still haven’t read, or if I’ll ever figure out what happened in the days between the last letter and your sailing date.   Does it even really matter?

I guess what the knowledge of that gap is bringing up for me, is that all of this is made up.  This journey that I’m on is completely something that I have come up with in my head, that started from a simple idea and a photograph.  And what is the point? What am I hoping to gain from it? What am I being a voice for? What impact am I trying to have?  Will people still come to my blog once the letters are done?

I recently read a blog by my favourite blogger Hannah Brencher (she’s amazing & has a TED talk).  Her blog post was all about reminding us, her readers, her community, her people, of an important message.  It was a message about life, love, taking the time to love the people that are in front of you now…in this very moment.

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I want to do the same…in my very own, unique way.  I want to inspire people to go for their dreams, I want people to honour life stories…those before them & their own.  I want to be a leader for showing up authentically and vulnerably, and I want people to express themselves creatively…however that looks: through the lyrics of a song, through the hands crafting a quilt, through the colours on a canvas, through the lens of a camera, through a poem, a handmade candle, or a lovingly home-cooked meal.

Most of all, I want people to live the exact life they were born to live.  I want people to write their own Life’s Letter and to find their inspiration like I’ve found mine…connecting to my Grama, a bold, bubbly, courageous life-lover that I realize now is a big part of who I am, too.

With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,

Carly

xoxox

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* life’s letter typography logo hand designed by Haley Laronde – haleylaronde(at)gmail(dot)com

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Dear Grama

I choose Alice

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May 1st, 1946

My Darling,
Many thanks sweetheart for the letter I got this afternoon. I hope you are fine darling as this leaves me but missing you like hell. Nothing very much exciting happened to-day, this afternoon as it was my half-day I did Janey’s shopping up at John Barnes and then I rang up both Doris and Vera and we had a little chat. Doris told me that the Ill de France is sailing on Wednesday with brides so that made us very happy, even if we are not going on it, its all those nearer to us anyway. It would really be lovely if I would go with either Doris or Vera but I don’t really care darling because I know at the end of the voyage you will be waiting for me and that thought would keep me going if everything else went wrong darling, but I have a funny idea everything is going to be lovely, I only hope it’s soon, please God. I have just come in from the Golders Green Hippodrome. I thought it would make a change, it was quite good, I saw Henry Hall and his Orchestra, he’s got a smashing band and I could hardly stop myself from getting up and dancing to it. Remember when we nearly went there darling to see pantomime but when we got there it didn’t start until Sat so we went all over London and finished up at the Met, Edgeware Rd., remember? I suppose building a house would be a very good idea darling, but I guess you’re right and it’s better to wait until we get to-gether and then we can really talk it over. I guess you just about know me by now because I am going to say that anything you do will be alright because you are the best and cleverest husband in all the wide world and I know you think things over a lot before you decide. That girl yesterday really made me mad (the one who got her sailing papers) because she didn’t seem at all pleased and she said “I’m sorry I started it all now, aren’t you?” and I said “Of course not, I’ll do it all over again.” And I would darling, because I love you and only you for the rest of my life. Well sweetheart I guess that’s the news for another day, it was a lovely day for the 1st of May and let’s hope May will be a lucky month for us. A guy spoke to me while I was waiting for the bus this morning, he said, “you look happy,” so I said, “well it’s the 1st May and a lovely day, so why not?” Well now I guess I’ll have to sign off so good-night my darling. Please look after yourself for me. God Bless You and pleasant dreams, darling. Good-luck. Au-revoir. Hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever.
Your everloving wifey,
Rene
I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 1st, 2013

Dear Grama,
Oh I had the most incredible day today, I could just scream from the rooftops just how amazing life is and how magical it is to be here retracing your steps. I had an absolutely wonderful lunch with someone I now consider to be a very close friend. I met her while finding my wedding dress, actually. She suggested we meet at Liberty, which I’m sure you loved back in your day. We browsed some shops & had a lovely lunch. Dessert, the infamous carrot cake, was to die for. After our 4 hour lunch date and amazing conversation, I made my way to St. James Park to soak up the sun. As I sat on the park bench, I couldn’t help but feel curious about the man sitting next to me. I’m not sure if this has happened since living on my own over here, but I just love chance-meeting conversations. You never know what will unfold or who you’ll end up meeting and becoming friends with. This man was in his 70’s and once our conversation began, I knew I was meant to meet him. He told me all about the time that he spent with Elizabeth Taylor, his one liner words of wisdom that he lives by, and all about why he still works, well into his 70’s, at a place he adores: the theatre. The chance meeting couldn’t have been more perfect, because this very day, 67 years earlier, you had been to see a performance at a theatre.
After we bid each other a lovely farewell, I felt like meeting him was a sign from you, so I decided to catch up with him and walk in the direction of the theatres. I asked him which theatre he worked at and if it was possible to get last minute tickets. He told me all the in’s and out’s and showed me where to queue up for returns. I ended up getting an £80 ticket for £27.50 and the show was phenomenal. It was Peter & Alice, which is about Alice in Wonderland & Peter Pan all grown up, starring Judi Dench and Ben Wishaw. The performance left me deeply moved and I, yet again, found myself in the middle of Central London fighting back the tears as I ran to catch the tube. The message of the performance was that life is a choice. We all grow up, bad things happen in life and it’s all part of the journey. We can choose to dwell on it and let it take over our lives, or choose acceptance in life. It left me with a very obvious urgency to live my life to the fullest. It made me want to make the most of my every day. In the end that’s all we’ve got: CHOICE. That message was illustrated so well in Judi Dench’s line: “I could be the old woman who saw the last of her days lonely in a room somewhere…or I could be Alice. I choose Alice.”
A few hours earlier, on the park bench in St. James Park, Legend (what the gentleman I met goes by…no joke) looked at me and said: “The reason I still work in my 70’s is because of something I heard in a play once…I could be lonely sitting in room somewhere…or I could be Legend… I choose Legend”
Grama, you sure did the same in life. You chose life. You chose happiness. You chose Rene. The bright, bold, bubbly, make the most of this life, Rene.
With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,
Carly
Xoxo
Ps…I choose Carly

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Dear Grama

Dancing through life together

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April 28th, 1946

My Darling Nick,

Here I am sitting up in bed writing this to you wishing from the bottom of my heart that you were beside me.  Many thanks sweetheart for another letter I got from you this morning. I hope you are fine darling as this leaves me but minus a heart as you have that.  Everything back here is very much the same.  I went to the dog-races with Joe again to-night but we have both vowed for the last time as we have decided to pack it up.  I only lost about a pound, but Joe lost 4 pounds so we have come to the conclusion that it isn’t a paying game, so you now have a reformed wife darling.  After the races I went home with Joe and we had supper and a jaw, mostly about you of course, what else would I talk about.  Nothing else much happened to-day darling, I cleaned the windows in my room because I felt energetic, I haven’t much chance to using up my energy these days, especially now as I sold my bike, but a little bird tells me that I will be using a lot soon, P.G. What do you think darling? While I sit here and look around the room, I think of all the good times we had here, do you remember that night darling when I was teaching you how to dance and we were dancing with the light turned off, and then when we went dancing you surprised me because you could dance all the time.  I also remember the mornings that Lorne used to come up here and talk to us in bed, do you remember how jealous he was of us being to-gether, what price now, I bet he is enjoying himself with his wife these days, but never mind darling one of these days please God soon they will all be jealous of us two because we will be so happy to-gether.  The other day a customer said to me don’t you get tired of saying “No” and I said that I said Yes once to you darling and never regretted it, so she said she hopes I never will, but I know I never will darling.  Well sweet I guess I had better get down into the covers now as it’s nearly one o’clock and it’s work to-morrow.  So I will say Good-night darling hope to see you and love you soon not from a distance but in person.  God Bless You and pleasant dreams.  Good Luck.  Au-revoir.  All my love to you forever.

Your ever loving wifey,

Rene

I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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April 28th, 2013

Dear Grama,

Last time to the dog races, eh? Well I’ve not been able to convince anyone to go with me yet (yes, even after 3 months), but I’ve come up with a plan.  Ryan and Suli are coming to visit in June and although the timing may not match up, at least I will be retracing your steps by going to the dog races with my big brother.  I am so excited for them to come for a visit to show them some of the things I’ve discovered over here.  We’ll be sure to take your advice though, and keep the betting to a minimum since it’s not a “paying game.”

Your mention of Papa and the memories you shared before he left make me smile.  It’s hard to believe that Adam will never see my flat here in London, but every time I go by places we visited while he was here, I remember the good memories, too.

One dancing memory I do cherish and will remember forever is a night we danced at a dear friends wedding.  We had only been together for 2 months, and it was that night that I realized that I loved him.  He truly is a dream come true.

You talking about saying “Yes” once and knowing that you would never regret it speaks to some things that have been on my mind lately about marriage.  The truth is, it wasn’t long ago that I wasn’t quite sure about the whole notion of marriage.  I found myself single for the first time in 10 years and not quite sure I even believed in the idea of finding “the one.” Obviously, I feel differently now, having said YES when Adam proposed because my perspective has changed.

I think in my single (and maybe a tad bitter) days, I just saw the negative about marriage.  The divorce rate statistics, the tough stuff that inevitably comes with marriage and the underlying risks there are with making that kind of promise.  The perspective that I choose to be in now, and what you so graciously model, is that it’s worth it.  What I’ve learned from you and papa, and every other amazing couple Adam and I are surrounded by, is that committing to sharing this journey through life together is one of the most beautiful promises you could ever make.  It’s promising to be true to someone through everything.  It’s promising to be authentic and commit to lifelong communication about everything that comes your way.  It’s promising to cherish one another, every single day, and honour the love that will get you through anything.

Grama, of course you know this already, but something else that makes me believe in the power of love, marriage and a promise to share life with one another, is the way Papa smiles and to this day says “I had the best wife in the world.”

With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,

Carly

Xoxox

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photo credit: dancing – Matt Lin, b&w – Mike Keo

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Would love to hear marriage advice from all of you lovelies reading my blog. Whether married for 2 months or 20 years.  Would love to hear from you in the comments below! Look forward to hearing from you! xoxo

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