May 31st, 1946

My Darling,
Thanks darling for the life-saver (letter) I got from you this afternoon. I hope your head-aches have gone by now and that you are quite okay. I am fine in health but terribly, terribly lonely for you! To make me feel worse they even played our song to-night, as if I had to be reminded how much I miss you. Things back here were very much the same to-day. I went into the shop again this morning to give them a hand and I got two lovely presents, one was a beautiful set of fruit knives in a lovely case from Mr & Mrs Samuel’s, more knives darling, we are getting quite the collection of them aren’t we? The other present was a very nice dressing table set a customer gave me, I thought it was very sweet of her as she had made it all herself and she is about 70 years old. Now we have a home of our own darling, I am thrilled with everything I get and I try to picture it in our home, please God soon. If we get any more presents I shall soon have to get myself another trunk. I wonder if Eileen will be going on this next trip of the Queen Mary, I reckon it should be leaving again about Wednesday, I sure hope I will be going on her next trip. The Royal Canadian Navy’s show “Meet the Navy” has been made into a picture and it’s on at the Empire, I am going to try and see it, I don’t have to tell you that I sure wish you were here to take me to see it. Janey said as you have now got half a house can she come along now with Dixie or will you still have to build her a log cabin. Everybody here in London seems to be preparing for the Victory Day next Saturday (except me) they have put flags up in Trafalgar Square and they have also put a lot of stands up on Oxford St. I think I shall stay in all day on that day, crowds are dangerous and I don’t want anything to happen to us now. Well, husband of mine, I guess that’s all the news for now, it’s not what I want to write and I know not what you would like to read, but soon, please God darling it will come, I guess we just have to wait a little longer. God Bless You dearest, Good-night and have pleasant dreams. Good-luck. Au-revoir. Hope to see you soon. All my love to you forever.
Your everloving wifey,
I LOVE YOU (in x’s)

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May 31st, 2013

Dear Grama,
What you’ve said about wanting to stay away from crowds has got me thinking. The whole idea of fear has been on my mind a lot lately and I can’t help but think that this comment is out of character for you. In one hand I realize the fear you must have felt is completely unfathomable for someone of my generation. From living through the years of the war and the constant air raids, to falling in love with a soldier who was off at war…that, I cannot even begin to imagine. From what I remember of you though, from what mom tells me, and from what Papa shares, you embraced fear. You loved the adventure of it all. You even told us on many occasions, that you enjoyed the excitement of sleeping in Swiss Cottage tube station during the air raids.
The fear I have been experiencing is not even close in comparison…but it’s fear all the same. It’s fear of being here alone, fear of putting my words & dreams out there for all to see, and fear of writing a book.
Today I experienced facing a fear on an extreme level. I was invited by a dear friend to experience what feels like a hidden secret of London…the women’s pond at Hampstead Heath. After walking through the vast beauty of the park itself, the winding trails brought us to the secluded and sacred pond that women have been swimming in since the 1800’s. After passing the gate that says “No Men Beyond This Point” I knew I was going to experience something unique.
The night before my swim, I had realized that I was feeling disconnected to so many things. I felt disconnected to you, disconnected to what I was over here to do, and disconnected to the present moment. I was letting fear take over and getting caught up in the negative voices in my head. When I woke up, I couldn’t help but think of the song by Mumford & Sons “Awake my Soul.”
I knew I was in for an awakening today, on many levels…so my word for the day was Awaken. Let’s just say…the 12°/53° temperature of the water was QUITE the awakening. As well as being awakened to the notion of embracing fear, just like you always did. I realized on my walk to the park that in my excitement, I forgot about the small fact that I’m not really the best swimmer. It instantly brought a whole new level of fear into the picture. It reminded me of how the fears of not being able to write, were very similar to my fears of not being able to swim. If my life depended on it…of COURSE I would know how to swim. If I looked like a weirdo and was kicking my legs & flailing my arms…I would swim. I would get from A to B. I would somehow, someway, swim. Just like I’ve been doing here…on this blog, in my journal & in my writing. I’m writing. I’m somehow, someway, accomplishing this dream that I had NO idea how to do. Isn’t life in general like this? Marriage. Raising babies. Pursuing careers. Aren’t we all just learning as we go, embracing the fear of the unknown and awakening our souls to LOVE.
A line in “Awake my Soul” that really speaks to me is… “In this body we will live, in this body we will die….where you invest your love, you invest your life.”
Thank you for modeling embracing fear so well, Grama. If you didn’t embrace fear, you wouldn’t have asked Papa to dance the first night you met, you wouldn’t have agreed to marry him, you wouldn’t have come to Canada, and you wouldn’t have been YOU.
With a granddaughter’s love,