“Nana!” Sophia Blake's voice rang out in surprise. Her big, brown eyes shown in excitement as she drew out what appeared to be letters. Some were in plastic bags, some were in bundles with a rubber band holding them together. Others were placed with care in manilla envelopes. Sophia's chestnut brown hair bobbed back and forth as she shook her head. “What are these?” She carefully reached in to the plastic bag and removed a letter. It was dated nineteen forty-four.
Nana shrugged her shoulders, a soft smile playing at the corner's of her mouth. “Those old things?” She took the letter Sophia was holding out to her. “Why, I haven't thought about those in years. My goodness, where does the time go?”
Sophia uncrossed her legs and stretched. She had been spending the day at her grandmother's house. She glanced around at the living room. The carpet was blue, like most of the room itself. Her Nana had had it installed just a few years ago. Funny, though, Sophia thought it was the same blue that was previously there. Nana's white walls were decorated with old pictures Nana's grandmother made out of material. The pictures were framed and bolted to the wall in case an earthquake would jolt them down. Over the fireplace mantle hung a rectangular mirror. Sophia remembered that being there her entire life. Just to the right of the fireplace sat Papa's green chair and ottoman. When Sophia was younger, much younger than her now thirty-five years, she and her siblings would jump off of the ottoman. Nana and Papa never yelled at them for doing so. As a matter of fact, her own children were encouraged to jump off that ottoman by Sophia's grandparents.
“Those, Sophie,” Nana began in her quivery ninety year old voice, “are the letters Papa wrote me when he was overseas in World War II.”
Sophia's eyes grew wide. “You've kept them all these years?”
Nana patted the top of her white hair with her free hand. “I had forgotten I still had them. Oh dear,” she sighed, reading the words written on the aged paper. Nana never said “dear” as it should be said. She always left off the “r” sound and made the word sound like “dea-ya” instead. That was her Maine upbringing. Nana lived in California for over fifty years, yet she still kept her eastern accent. Sophia loved listening to her grandmother talk. It wasn't just the word “dear” Nana said with an accent, but also the word, “park”, which often came out as “pawk.” Sophia would tease her grandmother into saying, “Park the car in the parkway.” Every “r” sound came out the same way.
Sophia chuckled to herself as she stood up and sat on the arm of the floral couch her grandmother sat on. She leaned over Nana's shoulder and read the letter out loud,
Wednesday, November 22, 1944
Well, here I am back at Kandy and still no mail. I find that they have been sending it around to the various places I have been. So it will probably be about a week more before I will be getting any mail.
How's this? I've been reading a western story which was written by an Englishman and printed in India. And it sounds just like one of Zane Grey's yarns.
I've just come back from the movies where I saw, “Two Girls and a Sailor.” It was pretty good. They use the mess hall for double duty-both to serve meals in and as a theatre.
Maybe I should tell you this now, honey, so that you will be forewarned. I'm quite apt to be spoiled by the time I come home. You see, it's the system of servants that they have here. We find tea besides our bunks by the time we wake up in the morning, get our beds made, shoes shined, bags carried, anything! All we have to do is just yell, “Boy!” and he's always on the spot to do anything that we tell him. I feel that such luxury is spoiling me.
I learned something very valuable while I was in India. I met a special services officer and he was telling me about the GI Bill of Rights. I find that I can go to school at government expense after the war and get paid besides. What do you think of that?
It's getting late so I will say goodnight now to my sweet darling wife whom I love with all of my heart.
Good night, Honey. Will all my love,
Nana patted Sophia's hand with all the love Sophia had grown accustomed to. “Take them home with you, if you like. They are all yours.”
Sophia's mouth hung open in bewilderment. “Mine? Really?”
Nana smiled and nodded her head. Sophia reached out and hugged her grandmother's thin, frail frame. “Thank you, Nana! Thank you!”
“If you ever have any questions, just let me know. I will answer them as much as this old woman's memory will allow her to!” Nana tapped her temple with her forefinger.
Sophia gathered up the remaining letters and carefully put them in her giant purse. She was glad she brought her big purse today. Sophia called her children in from the backyard and told them to clean up. It was almost time to leave. Once the kids said their good-byes, she buckled them up in her minivan and maneuvered the vehicle onto the two ten freeway. She was anxious to get home so she could begin reading the letters of love written by her grandfather.