Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: ABSENCE MAKES THE HEART GROW FONDER (02/28/19)
- TITLE: TOY
By Judy Sauer
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"Sure," said Becca. "We cannot put it off forever."
Emily, their mom, had recently passed away; twelve years after their dad, Joe, did.
After she inserted and turned the key, Emma opened the door and stepped inside.
"Where should we start first?" asked Becca, "because we need a plan. I'm already overwhelmed at the idea of going through mom and dad's things."
In a collective uneasiness, her siblings nodded.
"Let's start with the hardest parts first—their personal items and memorabilia," suggested Emma, "and leave the clothes for last." They followed her in silent unison, like goslings trailing a mother goose; straight for the juggernaut of emotions—the closet they had never been allowed to enter. "I suspect things are in here that mom and dad never wanted us to find," she said, "but now it's time to face this head on, together."
Tears welled up in Becca's eyes. She missed her mom. Emma hugged her and Bill squeezed her arm; they all missed their mom.
Deep in the recesses of the closet were a dozen shoe boxes: unlabelled, but heavy. Becca lifted the lid off the first box. "This is full of letters," she exclaimed, "and they're bundled together; though it looks like the twine is frayed from what must have been repeated tying…." Her voice trailed off as she spotted the red and blue striped borders and an Air Mail sticker on the envelopes.
She held her stomach and bent forward at a slight angle then sat motionless as she silently scanned with a finger her mother's beautiful penmanship. That was until Emma shouted, "Read it to US too."
"My dearest darling, I miss you so much, and you're so far away. At least I have your letters to hold until you return home. Then we can really begin our lives as husband and wife."
Bill piped up, "Did they get married right before he went to war?"
"I never connected the dates before," said Emma, "but I guess so. Wow! a war bride. Let me read," as she grabbed the letter from Becca.
She clutched the letter with a tight grip as a slight chill went through her bones. Her voice shook as she read, "I think of you day and night, and I am so lonely. We never had time to set up a place of our own. Mother and Daddy still treat me like I'm not married and insist I have a curfew."
"We'll be here forever if we read each letter out loud," said Bill. "Why don't we take a bundle and read them to ourselves. When we find something to share, we can then say it. Okay?" The sisters agreed.
"Here's something," Bill said. "Did you know that they continued writing letters even after dad returned home from war? This one is from 1958, long after World War II ended."
Becca asked, "What is TOY? It's at the bottom of the letters."
"I dunno," Bill and Emma said together.
"Oh my! Mom and dad had a rough time after he got back home," said Emma. "Listen to this… "My dear independent wife, it is the man's job to look after the finances. Now that I'm home, I need to be the man of the house. Yes, you took care of everything, but I'm back now. TOY."
"Here's a letter when mom was angry," announced Bill. He read on, "All this drinking and cursing like a sailor is not you. Why did you come back home a different man? I want my sweet Joe back." The tears in their mother’s eyes stained the letter. "Even when angry, she wrote 'TOY.' What does it mean?"
"I never saw mom get angry," said Becca.
"She never did," said Emma.
As the siblings continued to read the letters, they noticed each ended with "TOY." Hours passed before they realized it.
"A-ha!" exclaimed Becca. "This is one of the earliest letters. Dad wrote, 'thinking of you,' throughout the letter. The next letter in the stack was from mom to dad. It appears she turned the words into their own secret love code—'Thinking of you—TOY'. How sweet!"
Emma declared, "This is their legacy to us. Regardless if near or far, on good terms or not, still communicate. It’s what kept them together. Let's treasure this legacy. I know we all miss them,” and they hugged.
There is a time for everything, and everything on earth has its special season.
There is a time to be born and a time to die.
There is a time to plant and a time to pull up plants.
There is a time to kill and a time to heal.
There is a time to destroy and a time to build.
There is a time to cry and a time to laugh.
There is a time to be sad and a time to dance.
There is a time to throw away stones and a time to gather them.
There is a time to hug and a time not to hug.
There is a time to look for something and a time to stop looking for it.
There is a time to keep things and a time to throw things away.
There is a time to tear apart and a time to sew together.
There is a time to be silent and a time to speak.
There is a time to love and a time to hate.
There is a time for war and a time for peace.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 NCV
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