Inspired by my “Love Letters” post, I decided to write briefly about the letters written during WWII from my mother-in-law, Army 1st Lt. Ruth Brunner, to her surrogate mother, Aunt Rosella. And today, further inspired by my blogosphere friend, Dr. Meg Sorick, whose written “Here Lies a Soldier.” I read the first three short chapters and I’m hooked. (I really appreciate history, England, Philadelphia, and long-lost family connections. You’ll find this in her story.)
Amongst other treasures as we continue to clean out the remnants of our 40+ marriage, we found this box of letters! We stored them after we helped clean out Ruth’s home when she relocated from Florida. She is still alive and well at a sharp 94 years young. We are about to ship these letters to her other son, my husband’s brother. He is going to become the caretaker of these letters. It’s really hard to part with them. But we know it’s the right thing to do. I had intended to go through them, scan them, and make a historical accounting of them. But alas, they found their way into the bottom of a closet and into our storage locker. These are priceless and thank the good Lord, they were preserved. No small miracle.
I’d like to share a brief history of Ruth. She was more or less orphaned at a young age with her brother and sister. Her parents had a farm, but tragedy struck and the three children we moved into another family house. Their Aunt Rosella, unmarried, became their surrogate mother and father. The three children raised themselves as she had a job and her own home, so she just checked on them weekly and brought necessary provisions.
The first to graduate, their older brother, Warren, worked in heavy equipment until he was in his 80s. He’s still alive at age 96! Ruth was the middle child. She and her little sister, namesake of Rosella but called Posey, were like twins, just a year or so apart in age. Ruth was the mother figure and Posey was the fancy-free youngest child. Ruth graduated from high school, and since they both wanted to become nurses, Ruth waited for her to graduate. Aunt Rosella helped fund their education. Then they went to nursing school together. And then the war broke out.
These two sisters were real dynamos! And highly sought after. As patriots, they left good jobs to help with the war effort. And the doctors all said their jobs would be waiting for their return. When they enlisted, they insisted on serving together. This was not an easy request, but these dynamos got their way and off they went. I’ve memorialized some of their history in a picture album, but must get permission to write more. I’m taking a liberty now to brag about my wonderful mother-in-law and her legacy. My husband and I are so blessed we have wonderful moms and good relationships with each today.
So I read a few letters and gleaned a few things. It was hard to write during war-time. She looked for positive things to report. They did have some free time, so she said they did go and find some fun! Might as well enjoy themselves, she said! And then she said they attend church every Sunday, having only missed one Sunday since writing.
This story has a happy ending! Both sisters came home safely and met their prospective husbands, married and lived long happy lives!