Life's Little Moments

By dbifulco

An Immigrant's Tale

For the past month of so, my husband has been opening old boxes of letters that were in his parents attic for decades, and before that in the home of his grandparents.  Most of the letters are to and from the man who would have been my husband's Uncle, had he not been killed in WWII.  My husband was named for him, William.  He was killed 1944 at the age of 21.

To back up a bit, all of my hubs' grandparents immigrated to the US from Italy in the early 20th Century.  As immigrants do, they worked hard and raised their children to be Americans, while never forgetting their proud Italian heritage.  William was the eldest and only son; he was my MIL's half brother.  His own mother died when he was about 7 or 8 and his father remarried soon thereafter and had two girls, the youngest being my MIL.  She worshiped her older brother and was, by all accounts and like the rest of the family, devastated when he was killed.  As far as we know, no one has opened these letters since he died.  And there are hundreds of letters. My MIL would never part with her brother's letters, but nor would she ever read them - it was simply too painful.

This particular letter is from William's girlfriend/fiancé, Regina.  You can just make out the postmark - 10 September 1944.  We don't know if William ever received it since he was killed only a short time later.  She was only 19 herself.  We know that she eventually went on to marry someone else and had children; but we know nothing else about her.  I often find myself wondering how she managed to find her way through the grief of losing her "darling Bill."

For my hubs, being able to have this intimate and personal glimpse into the lives of his grandparents, mother, aunt and the uncle he never knew has been a gift that can't really be adequately described.  The outpouring of love and pride in the letters from grandfather to son is enough to make your eyes well.  And the letters between my MIL and her beloved older brother would make you laugh, and then make you cry when you remember how it all ended.  

When he died, the Army sent his duffle bag with letters and a few personal items back home to the family.  Amazingly, the duffel is still intact as were the contents.  In days to come, I am going to photograph some of the items and will post them here when I do.  A bit of a departure from what I usually do, but I want to preserve some of this in my own story, here on Blip.

Stay safe, cherish those you love, be kind.  


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