Writing 101 – Day -5
This morning Barb and I are headed out for our morning treat – coffee. As I approach the car my attention is drawn to a yellowed paper on the sidewalk. Most often, if I don’t bother with such things, other than picking them up for the trash, but something tells me this is different. I scoop it up and then slide behind the wheel. While I await Barb, I discover the paper I’ve retrieved is a letter, folded once, then turned and folded twice more the other way. The folds are creased with time and it’s smeared with what might be mud. I open it and begin to read the words.
I’ve lost track of the date, I can’t tell you where I am other than Europe somewhere. The war is coming to a close, some say, but for me there seems to be no end in sight. This may be my last chance to write for awhile, but I’m okay. Please hug and kiss the kids for me. I think of you every day.
With All My Love,
By the time I’ve finished Barb is in the car. Her eyes hold questions as I hand her the letter. I wait in silence while she reads it a second time. Then I ask her who this letter might belong to.
“There’s an old lady who goes along this street on fair mornings. Sometimes she uses a walker, sometimes she has a cane. Maybe she knows who this belongs to,” she suggests.
I start the car and then come to a halt five houses east of ours. Barb raps on her door, while I wait on the porch with her.
A frail woman answers our knock. “Yes?” she says in a thin, shaky voice.
“Do you know who owns this letter?” Barb asks, unfolding it and holding it out to her.
She squints at the words. “Yes. That’s my Ralph’s last letter. I lost him at Normandy Beach seventy years ago,” she says. Her voice is reduced to a whisper, and her eyes grow misty and distant. “Thank you so much for returning it to me,” and then her voice fails her.
“Is there anything we can do?” asks Barb.
She shakes her head and then closes the door. We hear her unsteady foot steps retreating.
We realize that June 6th has taken on a more personal meaning for us.