My father loved my mother and it was a love that lasted until his death. I never knew the depth of my father’s love until my mother became ill with terminal brain cancer. It was the day my mother had surgery, after which we would find out if the tumor was benign or malignant. I don’t remember what kept me from being at the hospital when the doctor told my mother and father the news. It was a chaotic time. When I arrived, my mother was sleeping and my father was no where to be seen. I found the doctor and after he told me the news, I went in search of my father. I found him in an out of the way sitting area, hunched over and staring at the floor. I put my arm around him and he wept and he told me how lost he would be without my mother. My father was not one of those stoic men who hide their emotions but I had never seen him so bereft. I have tears in my eyes thinking about it now, fourteen years later.
After my parents passed away, I found a letter my father had written to my mother the summer before they wed. She was visiting her Roth cousins in California and he was back home in Philadelphia. My father was twenty-two years old and my mother was twenty-one. Here is that letter.
August 22, 1959
Hi Lover: Just a few lines to let you know that I received your letter. To tell you the truth I was getting a little worried, I thought that you would send me a post card from one of the places that you had a lay over.
So you got stranded in Albuquerque, that is a great town. What did you do while you were there? Did you get off the train? What made you think that Albuquerque was a small town, it’s know[n] as the fastest growing town in the US.
My father was stationed out west while he was in the Air Force and had a fondness for Albuquerque. I remember when we drove through it on our way to dropping me off at college in Arizona he was impressed by how much it had grown. I think he was a little hard on my mother here. Even when I went out west in the nineties, I had someone ask me if Tucson had tumbleweeds blowing down the streets. I think people back east think of the southwest as being like the old western movies.
So far I’ve done absolutely nothing but eat sleep and work and think about what’s going to happen on October 24th. I can hardly wait.
I took Marge and her Mother down to Wildwood last night and drove back this morning. I felt so lonely in that town that I had to get out of there fast. I missed you so much. Dick couldn’t go because he had to work so I went out Friday night by myself for about two hours and that was all I could stand.
My parents married on October 24th and apparently my father could not wait! Marge was my mother’s best friend, the maid of honor at their wedding, and my godmother. I think it is nice my father drove her and her mother down to the shore. I don’t know who Dick was, but apparently my dad missed my mother so much he couldn’t enjoy a Friday night out alone.
I hope that you are enjoying your vacation, next year we’ll go on one together if we can afford it. Remember I love you, I need you and I’m going to have you. Give my best to your mother and tell you[r] cousins that I hope that I have the pleasure of meeting them.
There is something awkward and indescribably sweet about finding a letter between your parents that begins with “Hi Lover” and ends with “Your Everlovin.” A side note, my mother’s mother always called my dad Chuck and my mother told me he never went by Chuck, always Charlie. Well, I guess he did once.
And at the end of the letter he adds this in case my mother did not catch it throughout the letter:
P.S. I miss you.
My father passed away six weeks before my mother. I know it is a cliché but I think he could not stand to live without her.
They were engaged on Valentine’s Day 1959.