July 20, 2009

Letters from the Past

by DiAnn Mills

Today I was thinking about what to write for this month’s blog. So many interesting and dynamic topics by outstanding writers have been covered on Bustles and Spurs, and my goal is always to bring something of value to the reader. But it’s often difficult coming up with new and exciting topics.

My mind swept back to many years ago in the hills of Kentucky. I sat with my grandmother on an autumn afternoon in her small house that lacked indoor plumbing. She put a few pieces of kindling into a stove, lit it, and then added a dry log. While I waited for the heat to chase away the chill, she sat back down and reached for her Bible. It rested on her lap for several moments. I didn’t ask any questions; I simply waited. Once the room started to grow warm, she turned to me and pulled a yellowed envelope from her Bible.

“Read this,” she said. “It’s a part of your history, written during the Civil War.”

I took the letter and felt very special and honored that she’d allow a girl to read something this valuable. I wish I had memorized its contents or copied the letter, because the emotion is still with me. Perhaps I can relate the drama in a way that you can understand the heartbreak of divided families during the Civil War.

The letter was addressed To Mother. The young man composing the letter had written his mother in Kentucky from Tennessee. For those of you who are a little rough on your Civil War history, Kentucky was a northern state. The young man had joined the Rebel army. Get the picture? Did he regret his decision? So many times we learn about brother against brother, father against son, but what about the war separating mother and son?

My heart still aches for my distant cousin who sorely missed his mother. He desperately wanted to come home after the war and recapture what he’d once held dear. I read his tears in every word, and I wanted to comfort a young man who no longer walked the earth.

Someday when I’m all grown up as a writer, I’m going to take the heart and soul of this letter and write a story. I want to show that young man as a baby nursing from his mother, taking his first steps, learning how to talk …fish … read … hunt … shoot … making choices.

I hope I can show the love between the mother and son and maybe, just maybe, I can bring them back together. A letter from the past is not just a yellowed piece of paper. It’s life filled with joys and sorrows. It’s the heart of our existence.



brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Great post, DiAnn! Life is definitely all about choices and how they affect us.

Linda said...

Am I hearing correctly--Do I hear a book coming? I love Civil War era books. I hope I'm hearing correctly.