Lost and Found

Letters, for many of us, (and I don’t mean letters from the bank or from the tax authorities) are something with a scent of old times. It was something that poets used to send to their beloved ones and soldiers in the frontier to their dears. I will admit that I was also attached to this communication tool and should I search old drawers I would certainly find old, yellow letters that reserve past contacts. Many times I wondered whether these “fireworks” are not a kind of a substitute that I have invented in order to fit the modern age. No wonder that the following story caught my attention:

Winona was 19 when she first met Edward, a tall, handsome young man. He had come to Detroit to visit his sister, who was engaged to Winona’s brother. Edward stayed with some friends, and although he was there for only a few days, there was enough time to get to know the lively, dark-haired young woman who intrigued him from their first meeting. They promised to write (it was pre internet times), and Edward returned to Pittsburgh.

For many months, they wrote long, newsy letters sharing details of their lives and their dreams. Then as quickly as he came into her life, Edward left. His letters stopped, and Winona gradually accepted that he simply wasn’t interested anymore. Edward couldn’t understand why Winona had stopped writing, and he, too, resigned himself to the fact that the woman he had fallen in love with did not return his love.

Several years later, Winona married a man, a 10 years her senior, and they had 3 sons. She got news of Ed’s life through her sister-in-law. Several years later, Edward got married, and he, too, had 3 children.

On one of her visits to her brother and sister-in-law’s in Buffalo, her brother announced, “We’re driving to Pittsburgh to Ed’s daughter’s wedding. Do you want to come?” Winona didn’t hesitate, and off they went.

She was nervous in the car just thinking about what she would say to this man she hadn’t seen in 30 years. Ed spotted Winona very quickly and when they sat at one of the long tables to talk, Winona’s heart was beating so hard she was afraid that Ed could hear it. They never mentioned the letters, and after a few minutes, Ed returned to his duties as father of the bride.

Winona returned to Detroit where she continued with her life and she tucked away the memory of her brief visit with Ed. When Ed’s wife died 10 years later, Winona sent him a sympathy card. Two years after that, Winona’s husband died and Ed wrote to her. Once again, they were corresponding.

Ed wrote often, and his letter became the highlight of Winona’s day. On her way to work, she stopped by the post office to pick up his letters, and then she read them at the stoplights. The letters made her days. Gradually, Edward expressed his love for his “darling Winona”, and they arranged for him to come to Detroit for his vacation.

Winona was excited and nervous about the visit. After all, except for their brief meeting at the wedding, they hadn’t spent any time together in over 40 years. When she picked him up from the airport he wrapped her in a long, loving hug and in the car, on their way to his hotel he pulled a small velvet box out of his pocket and slipped an engagement ring on Winona’s finger. For 2 weeks, Ed wooed his Winona. He even wrote her letters from his hotel. With the support of her family and friends she agreed to marry Ed. On September, 1971, and she is 62 years-old, dressed in a long pink gown, Winona was escorted down the aisle on the arm of her oldest son.

And those letters that had suddenly stopped so many years before, what was there?
It turns out that Edward’s mother had destroyed Winona’s letters because she didn’t want to lose her youngest son. 43 years later, Winona found him…

(Told by Elinor Daily Hall –  “Chicken Soup for the Woman’s soul” by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen. Copyright c 1996)

On top of the beauty and romanticism of love letters, and the magic of the vicissitudes of fate and ‘sliding doors’ which comes out from the story, we should also ponder  for a moment on the mother’s behavior. Either she just put her personal motives in front of her kids’ interests, or she knew better what is good for them, in both cases she impacted others’ fortune without their consent.
And I thought to myself – isn’t it a good opportunity to look where we sometimes go beyond just giving supporting advice to our grown up kids, and take the freedom to make decisions on their behalf, or object their choices…?    

Fireworks (55)
Shuka, Thursday, June 03, 2010

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