Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)
- TITLE: Letters to Poppy
By Joanne Cordaro
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Poppy and Gram were named Herut and Liat, respectively. I always found it interesting that their Hebrew names translated to “freedom” for him and “you are mine” for her. World War II was significant to both as they had each lost many extended family members to Hitler’s Nazis.
They had been high school sweethearts. They married at 18 on the eve of Poppy shipping out to Europe. He had fought in WWII for about 10 months when he was taken as a prisoner of war and then was held prisoner for more than a year. Until Poppy’s death last year, the war was the only time in their lives that they spent apart.
Gram had created a little nook for herself in the den. She placed her prized table, and two wooden chairs, in the center of a picture window. The window overlooked a small garden and a manicured lawn. She set a pale blue antique hurricane lamp decorated with delicate hand-painted flowers on top of the table. Gram always had a flare for understated elegance.
Every afternoon, and with a cup of lemon tea, Gram sat at that table and wrote a letter. She used beautiful stationery that she lightly perfumed for the occasion. For hours, she would stare out the window, seemingly lost in sentimental thought. Occasionally, a soft smile swept across her face. Then, with a slight nod, she would again touch pen to paper.
When satisfied with the letter, she would tenderly fold the letter, kissing it before placing it in an envelope. She didn’t mail any of these letters. She never shared them their contents either. She sealed each and then placed it in a safe box, the kind of metal box you use to keep important papers safe.
After watching this event play out for months, I finally asked, “Gram, you write letters everyday but you never mail them. Who are you writing to?”
Gram smiled and said, “I’m writing to Poppy, of course.”
I guess she must have seen the worried shocked look on my face. Because she chuckled as she said, “Oh Penny, don’t worry. I know he’s gone. I didn’t lose my mind when I lost him.”
I admit I relaxed a little at hearing that. My curiosity was peaked, so I asked, “Why do you write to Poppy now?”
“I write to him everyday, just as I did when he was a POW. Oh, when he was gone, I missed him so much my heart would ache. Writing to him somehow made me feel like he was closer to me. Sometimes I wrote to him about the banalities of everyday life, like the price of nylons or what I had for lunch. Mostly, though, I wrote about my love for him, how much I missed him, and what plans I had for us for the future. I couldn’t send my letters to him, but I saved each one.”
Gram gazed out the window, reliving her memory. After a moment, she continued, “When he finally came back home, we would cuddle in front of the fire. He read each letter aloud to me. We laughed. We cried. Your grandfather told me he had never felt more loved than when he read those letters I had written to him. Someday, when he and I are together again, he will read these letters aloud to me. And, he’ll know, my love for him remained true. So, you see, sweetheart, I write for Poppy.”
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