In August of 1994, my mother received a box in the mail from her cousin, Margaret. Inside was an unexpected treasure of love letters written by my grandparents – George and Grace. They spanned from 1908 to 1910, with most of them being written in 1909. The majority of the letters were from George to Grace. I imagine she wrote nearly as many but somehow they weren’t all saved.
Since I have shared some already about my grandparents story in previous blogs, I decided that this month of February would be a good time to share some of the letters and thoughts I have about family legacies. This is the month that focuses on love, and while Valentine’s Day is especially about romance, there are many of us who give extra thought to the love we have for family and friends, as well.
When my mom opened the box, the first thing she saw was my grandfather’s writing on the outside of an envelope. It said:
A very special invitation to a party out in the country north of Republic, MO. Mar.2, 1904. Went and had a very nice time.
And inside was an old letter that had been folded multiple times and was falling apart, the writing on it was faded but it still could be read. In my grandmother’s handwriting, her invitation came …
Dear Mr. Wilkinson,
A leap year party is to be given at Lawrence Coggins,’ on Rainey farm, and each girl is requested to ask a certain young man.
Therefore, I take the liberty of asking you, hoping it will be convenient for you to go.
And this is how the saga of Grace and George began! I would have thought George was the initiator of the relationship because he was such a romantic and seemed more affectionate and passionate about most things. You will hear it in the future letters I will share this month. But here we have it – Grace was the first to invite George into a relationship that would last for over 60 years and would result in a daughter and six grandchildren. And lots of wonderful memories.
I’ve always been a sucker for old memorabilia that belonged in the family – china, tablecloths, pictures, cards and letters. I like to hold them and remember where I come from. I imagine the faces and voices of my ancestor’s and if I don’t actually remember them, I think of what I know about them and I feel a closeness and a gratitude for their lives that eventually touched my life.
Whether it was intentional or not, they passed down many things to me – things like odd and funny little sayings, ways of thinking about something, habits (some good, and maybe some we could let go), etc. The most important thing that was passed down to me was faith. George especially taught me about faith and the kind of love God has for us and wants us to have for others. That love is spelled out in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
Yes, I love heirlooms and the legacy of family. I’m thrilled with these letters and am looking forward to sharing them with you in this month as we focus especially on love of family, and most especially, the love we have in the family of God. For God, our heavenly Father, gave us a most precious legacy in His amazing gift of love – Jesus, our Savior.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. – John 3:16
I want to share with you a very meaningful song, sung by my beautiful sister, Cindy Powell. It’s titled “Heirlooms.”
May you be blessed with loving memories of family.
Until next time.