In our home on the farm as a boy we had a dinning room buffet that seemed to collect everything. All sorts of things were stuffed inside the doors. If not careful how things were put away the doors would pop open with the slightest jar of the house.
Mom was in one of those moods one day when she thought it was about time to clean out some compartments and drawers. She asked me for a hand; giving instructions not to throw anything away before clearing it with her first.
Mom left the room to watch a soap opera. I removed items from the buffet and placed them neatly on the dining room table.
Something caught my attention; there was a stack of papers in the back of the buffet bound by a red ribbon. I removed them and untied the ribbon. They were letters addressed to Mom from Dad. They were letters written during World War II.
I opened the first letter; “Hello Peachy Puss, Just got to Panama. It is hot and muggy.” That’s all the further I got.
Mom grabbed the letters from my hands. “Those are private,” she said indignantly.
“But, Mom, I’m family,” I said.
Mom insisted I leave the house. “Go feed the sheep.”
I went to the barn and kicked a couple of bales of hay from the loft. I went back to the house and quietly peered through the dinning room window. Mom was reading the letters.
After reading she took all the letters to the burn barrel and set them aflame.
To this day I wonder what she was thinking as she read them. By the time I found them they were perhaps sixteen to seventeen years old. Perhaps she wondered what happened to the young handsome soldier she waited for to come home after the war. I think the man who left home to go off to war and the man in the letters was not the same man who came home.
What ever was in them was indeed private; the thoughts, passions, and longings of a man away from home to a woman that missed him and longed for him.
Not long ago I asked Mom about those letters. She didn’t remember the incident, but she remembered Dad’s letters.
“Don’t you remember the day you burned them?” I asked.
“Burn them!” she said. “They were so damn hot they caught fire on their own.”
Oh yes, she remembers!.