We think of family love letters as missives between star-crossed lovers. That’s not always the case. In fact, one of the loveliest testaments to love that I’ve ever read was a letter between sisters. After my mother’s death, I found it in her top dresser drawer.
My mom and her big sister shared confidences, even as my aunt, Nancy Crymes, left Lunenburg County, Virginia to attend nursing school in New Orleans. It continued as Aunt Nancy went to California to serve at the Cartua Baptist Mission.
There in Cartua Creek, California she met my Uncle Max.
I’ve since passed the letter on to my cousins, but I remember a lot of what it said. “Dear Sis,” it began. After a handwritten page or two about her work, she got to the point. She’d met someone very special.
What was striking was her description of Uncle Max. How, despite the fact that his hairline was receding, his character fit the mold of the man she wanted to spend her life with. How she’d fallen in love with this good, humble, loving man.
That beautiful letter comes back to mind this week. Aunt Nancy passed away on Tuesday, surrounded by her family. She’d missed Uncle Max since Christmas of 1996. I like to imagine the reunion going on in heaven. Her giggling with her sister Ellen again. Lecturing Uncle Jack. Finally getting to know her brother James, who was stillborn back in 1927.
What a party.
Family Love Letters Aren’t Just for Lovers
The comfort that I receive knowing the closeness of these two sisters and understanding the love that dwelled in Aunt Nancy’s and Uncle Max’s relationship from the beginning, convinces me even more of the value of family letters. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that family love letters aren’t just for lovers. They evidence of family bonds.
What letters are in your closets? What do they tell you about family relationships? Are family love letters waiting to be discovered?