Posted by Alicia Sell
“Very often I have watched you at your labor on the hill mowing hay so bright and new, wondering if your heart I held. I believe I must have loved you all summer.”
-Sarah to Bethuel Fletcher, accepting his marriage proposal. May 5, 1881
Two years ago I received one of my favorite gifts ever. My Grandma Edna, now 97 years old, gave me a small box of love letters that were written by members of her family, dating back to the 1880s. I love these letters for so many reasons. Foremost, I love that my Grandma gave me the letters even though it went against her sense of Victorian propriety. She did tell me she chose ones that didn’t have juicy details (followed by a fit of giggles and lots of blushing).
The notes are physically beautiful. The handwriting, old paper and faded ink are relics of a time long since past.
There are details about the weather, traditions and LOTS of gossip. Most importantly, I love that the letters capture moments of utter happiness and love between two people that I may never have known, but whose stories are in many ways tied to my own.
There is only one letter from my Grandpa Archie to my Grandma Edna. It is fairly modern compared to the others, and was written well into their marriage because he wrote about my mom. He passed away over a decade ago, but the letter instantly brings him back to life. I can hear him laughing as he put his pen to paper. His stories are mostly funny, but at the end he wrote “I wish you were here, I wish you were here. I wish you were here. Love, Archie.” He wasn’t a man of many words, but these simple sentences remind me of how much they loved each other, even after many years of marriage and LOTS of kids (nine in total).
The letters were too beautiful to keep hidden away. As I was redecorating my home office, I decided I needed something different and unique for artwork. The letters instantly came to mind. I framed them in simple black frames with clear glass so both sides of the letter can be read. They hang above my desk.
They remind me of the generations of love that had to happen for me to be here. And every now and then, I look up and read the letter from my Grandpa talking about my mom cooking dinner for the family while Grandma was out of town and how much he missed her and loved her. It is those special moments that matter. They help give perspective.
Do you have a favorite keepsake? How do you use heirlooms to decorate your house? We would love to hear your ideas!