She was diagnosed with cancer in early October & died the day after Thanksgiving.
It all happened so fast, but, you know, I think she was ready.
Her husband, my great Uncle Vernie, passed away 3 years ago & from that time, up until her death, all she wanted was to be with him again.
You see, they didn't (or couldn't) have children.
So, besides a few niece's & nephew's (my dad being one of them), it was just the 2 of them.
After she died, my dad let my sister & me walk through her house, to see if there was anything we wanted (furniture, linens, pictures, etc).
I found my Uncle's old war chest (trunk) in the bedroom.
We opened it up & found his old Lieutenant uniform, shoes, medals & a stack of old letters.
Letters written to him by my Aunt, when he was stationed overseas.
She wrote him at least 40 letters from April 1945 to June 1946.
And, would you believe a stamp back then only cost 8 cents?
My dad let me take the letters home to read.
I sat at my kitchen table & read each letter, start to finish.
It took me about 3 hours.
I had the most vivid image in my head of my Aunt sitting at her kitchen table, lovingly crafting each letter, just for my Uncle.
At some point during the time when these letters were written, they got engaged.
I believe she was also finishing school (college) & then at some point, she moved to Oklahoma to be a nurse with the Red Cross.
In the letters, she usually gave my Uncle a rundown of what she'd been up to, plus the latest gossip & wedding plans.
She also made sure to let him know how much she missed & loved him.
I want to share a few excerpts from a few letters with you.
May 1st, 1945
Let me set this excerpt up.
Apparently, my Uncle was quite the catch. He was very popular with the girls, it seems, but my Aunt won his heart.
May 4th, 1946
"My darling, these days without you get tougher & progressively tougher."
The only thing I wish is that I could find the letters he wrote to her.
For now, though, I will keep the letters to him in a safe place, so that I can show my children.
The kind of love that they shared only comes along once in a lifetime.
If you're lucky enough to find it, hold on to it.
I've been holding onto mine for 9 years, 3 weeks & 4 days.