Great-Aunt Hazel’s letter written to Mama in 1945 nested in an ancient steamer trunk in the dusty basement of my 100-year old childhood home. It was atop a flurry of yellowing envelopes with old-timey air mail stamps and addresses embellished with exquisite cursive writing. Tucked away (but I suspect not forgotten by Mama!) for seven decades, my great-aunt’s letter called to me from its hiding place … almost as if Mama left it there for me to find.
Clearing my parents' estate was difficult enough, and the discovery of my mother’s stash made it bittersweet. Aunt Hazel's missive revealed secrets my parents kept concealed. I had no clue about their turmoil as young sweethearts.
Aunt Hazel's letter was a gift to me about my parents and timeless love. I don’t share her words easily outside the family. They are beyond precious to me. I hope you find them meaningful, too.
During WWII, a handsome young sailor from New Haven, Ct.,
met and fell in love
with the beautiful USO Queen
when he was stationed in Everett, Wa., on the USS Elmore.
Her family didn't want their youngest to leave home
with a stranger of a different-to-them culture and religion.
They did their best break up the young couple.
However, one person,
the USO Queen's Aunt Hazel,
wrote to her niece
with compassion and wisdom
about finding lasting love:
the handsome sailor and the USO Queen
listened to Aunt Hazel.
remained deeply in love
for their 65 years together
on this earth.
Have you discovered letters from your past that helped you better understand yourself and your family? What do you believe are the secrets to lasting love? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.
My first year as a baby boomer orphan has been one of emotional ups downs. I shared how I took time to grieve and learned to deal with sadness in an earlier post HERE. I also revealed ah-ha’s about my writing goals after penning M&M, my first non-fiction book for grown ups based on my parent’s six decades together, HERE.
Now, two mountainous personal challenges click into place to majorly alter my personal space and appearance.
Adios, Old Friend
My first transition: accepting the new reality of ascending into my family’s senior-member orbit after my parents' passing. Spouse JM and I are right-sizing!
After watching my parents' failing health and slowing mobility, we decided to find a home where we could age in place and not wait until poor health forced us to move.
Yep. This summer, we’re leaving our cherished home on the greenway and neighbors of 20 years to build a residence three miles away. Still near the ‘hood and close to all we love, it’s not a retirement community (see next section). Instead, it’s a wonderful mix of generations and families in all life stages. JM and I hope our new neighbors will be as wonderful as the ones we were blessed with for 2 decades.
Right-sizing was a head decision, not a heart decision. Our new home will be mostly on one level, so no climbing stairs should we be unable to in the future. Its square footage is nearly what we have now, redistributed minus a formal living room and one bedroom. I still have my office, and JM can’t wait to build his O-scale model train layout in his ginormous new game room.
We never had tons of possessions, but we still dreaded skinnying down our household.
Armed with boxes, packing tape and bubble wrap, I started sorting.
Keep. Toss. Donate. Box. Yikes!
We called Habitat for Humanity for pick up and trekked to Goodwill with carloads of donations.
We filled a rented storage room with books, linens, and other “nonessentials” to make our home look more spacious when staged for sale this spring.
I was surprised how unburdened it felt to pass on belongings for others to enjoy. Like that young worker helping us spruce up the front entry, who received a small rug and maple end table. His huge smile told me the vintage pieces I purchased at an estate sale years ago found a happy home.
I even unearthed forgotten treasures boxed in the attic, unopened from our last move 20 years ago. Dad’s 1970s-era McDonald’s morning mugs he gave me to remember happy meals, happy times growing up and are marked for pride of place in the new kitchen.
These lost reminders of his sunny disposition and coffee addiction will be featured in our new home.
Hardest was parting with the 100-year-old pump organ that has been connected to JM’s family since it was made by Weaver Organ and Piano in York, PA in 1916. I'll miss its beautiful walnut case and Victorian charm, but there’s no room for it in the new house. After weeks of scouring the internet in three states and being rejected, the lovely folk at Fuquay-Varina Museums accepted our donation for their collection. Whew!
It’s also tough leaving our lush woodlands in an established neighborhood for a brand new community. But we have a wee hill and teeny green copse, leftovers from bulldozers razing old pine forests that once dotted the site of our new neighborhood. It's a tough transition from miles of woods and greenways right outside the door to the single, short walking path in our new place.
BUT ... we're delighted to lose leaf raking, yard work, and copperheads visiting from adjacent woods (Hooray!). And yes, I’ll take a carload of my fave plants for new garden beds, but most specimens stay for the next family. Plus, I'll have a new outdoor space to create. What a mix of sad times/happy times!
Finding My Roots
Moving to a new home wasn’t the only item on my radar during the past months. I took on another life transition facing many women of a certain age. Yep. Letting my natural hair color take root, so to speak [winking here].
I resisted going natural for the longest time. I adore my sassy reddish-brown tresses and am over the moon when people under-estimate my age. But I felt it was time to embrace my baby boomer status.
JM supports my decision. We’re looking forward to seeing what color (colors?) emerge. Already, a few grays at the temple and salt-and-pepper shades at the crown give us clues.
My biggest fear is that this new look could stereotype me as a slow, forgetful senior-citizen luddite. Sigh. I’m not a member of AARP and don’t expect to play bingo at the community center any time soon.
I was offended when a Millennial recently assumed I didn’t know about several cool apps or have a presence on social media. And this was with my sassy brunette look! Grrr.
I study 21st-century Blockchain technology, format my own digital and print books, maintain a website and two blogs, plus manage three email accounts and just as many cloud storage platforms, and moderate multiple Facebook groups. I'm woefully bad at knowing current pop music icons, so does that make me an old geezer? But I never listen to the oldies station, either.
Fingers crossed this jump into the unknown has a happy ending, too.
Like any journey, I figure it’s what you make of it along the way. Some days, it plain hurts to let go. However, I try to count my blessings and boogie down with exciting times and big changes ahead.
Have you found it difficult to make major life changes? What helps you find energy/courage to move in new directions? Please share in the comment section.
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