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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April 12th, 1946

My Own Darling,
Very many thanks for the three lovely letters I got from you today, they were really smashing and I am the luckiest girl in the world to have such a wonderful, marvelous husband. Remind me darling to give you more than one special kiss when I see you, in fact remind me to give you a hundred. I bet by the time I finish you will be begging me to stop. I hope this finds you fit and well darling as it leaves me but terribly, terribly lonely for you. I had a letter from Eileen this morning and she seems to be in a real bad way, her sister who she lives with has to get out of her house by the 22nd of this month. She is going to live with her husband’s people but poor Eileen has no where to go, she was hoping she would be on her way but it doesn’t seem so, you see they are very much behind with women with children and what makes me so mad is things like I read in the paper to-night saying that if so many thousands of G.I. Brides don’t apply immediately they will have to cancel shipping they have arranged for May as there are not enough of them, but maybe it will be better because maybe the Canadian Government will get the ships. We are thinking of asking Eileen if she would like to come here but you know we haven’t got much to offer her. I still say that little prayer for you each night darling, I couldn’t fall asleep without it and I thank God every night that we met darling, but it must have been fate sweetheart because I am sure we were really meant for each other and that I was born for you and for you alone. I sure do remember that evening we bought the Sandwiches and walked home eating them, great big sandwiches, we sure are a couple of crazy kids, but I’d give anything in the world if we could only do the same right now. When I was with Doris and Vera the other night we were having an argument because we all wanted to pay the bill so Doris said “I bet Rene wouldn’t mind being penniless right now if she could be on her way to Canada to-morrow” and I sure wouldn’t. Do you think you could put up with a penniless wife darling? Right now the wireless is playing “I’ll Walk Alone” and I am darling until that wonderful day until you are walking beside me. Well darling, I guess that’s the news for another lonely day without you, it’s exactly three months ago since that Friday you walked in when we looked after Dixie, do you remember? Three months without you that have just dragged along but I am hoping and praying that it won’t be long now when we can look back at these lonely months to-gether. So sweetheart until then please God soon I guess I shall just have to have patience so I will say Good-night my darling. God Bless You and dream pleasant dreams. 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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April 15th, 2013

Dear Grama,
I had big plans of writing a wonderfully uplifting letter to you all about my amazing weekend retracing your steps visiting parks, museums and historical sights. When I went to write it all down today though, I got that far too familiar feeling of loneliness that I couldn’t quite shake. I wrote out a letter, telling you all about my glorious weekend, but it was a surface letter, almost like small talk. I wasn’t being authentic, or real or even honest. I literally crumpled it into a ball and stopped myself just before launching it across the library. I turned the page in my notebook and wanted to burst into tears because of the fact that I, yet again, wanted to scream off the rooftops that I was “THE LONELIEST PERSON IN LONDON!!!” – (a wee bit dramatic, I know). I even took a break from the library, went to the park and passed every free bench to sit in the only one of the bunch with a person sitting on it. I engaged. I conversed. I connected. We all know that works for me.
It was when I got up and made my way back to the library that I realized I was utterly BORED of my loneliness story. I was sick of feeling this way and was NOT going to write a letter about it to you. It’s seems like a waste. After a quick pep-talk with one of my favourite people on the planet, I came to the realization that all that was needed was a shift.
Wanting to stay on the TRUTH train, I realized that along with this loneliness, there are other truths that are WAY more powerful to feel. Like the fact that what I truly miss about Adam are all of the little and simple things that actually are the biggest and best things a gal could ever ask for. His glance. His touch. His laugh. I long for being able to walk hand-in-hand in a park, to sit and have a coffee together and run out of things to say, or silently read books together on the couch in a place we call home.
It’s the point you so often make in so many of your letters. About you showing up a penniless wife and being the happiest girl in the world. About you wanting to get in “a row” with the war brides who say they’re not in a hurry to get to their husbands, as long as the money keeps coming.
In this very moment if someone offered me a big house, a nice car, a million dollars or the winning lottery numbers, I would say an easy: nope, no thank you, not interested. The only things I want are truly the simplest things you can think of. Togetherness, an embrace from the man I adore, and a commitment to live this kind of gratitude for one another for the rest of our lives.
Thank you for teaching me quite possibly the biggest lesson I’ve learned yet. That THIS is what life is all about. It makes the loneliness worth it.
With a granddaughter’s love & admiration,
Carly
Xoxox

Ps…I just heard news about the Boston Marathon tragedy. Yet another perspective shift that reiterates what is truly important in life. Hug those you love. Xoxo