A Lament For Letters

During one summer of our courtship, my husband Dave and I were separated for several months because we had jobs in different countries. We exchanged letters about two or three times a week. I have saved them all and frequently re-read them.

The emotions, ideas and dreams expressed in those letters have been a real source of encouragement and strength during our nearly five decades of marriage. We were poor college students in 1972 so we couldn’t afford to call each other during our summer apart and it was long before everyone had personal computers.  The only way we could communicate regularly was through cards and letters.

My grandparents on their anniversary

At my grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary, two of my aunts, who both had lived most of their lives in places far from their mother’s Manitoba home, presented a readers theatre that gave a humorous and entertaining look at our extended family’s history. Every line of the dramatic script was an excerpt from one of the hundreds of letters my grandmother had written to her daughters.

Heinrich Enns and his wife Gertrude my husband Dave’s grandparents

My husband’s grandfather Heinrich Enns was doing alternative service in a forestry camp in Ukraine in the late 1800s. He went to church with a buddy and met a girl named Gertrude Unruh. He had to go back to the camp but he wrote Gertrude such passionate and beautiful letters, she agreed to marry him.

Gertrude and Heinrich during wartime. You can see Heinrich’s medical hat with the red cross on the table.

Later during World War I when he was serving as a medic in Moscow his letters were the ones all the villagers back home wanted to hear read aloud because they provided such a descriptive and informative picture of the battlefront. In those letters, he was also able to offer advice and encouragement to his young wife who was trying to run their large estate alone during his absence.

Personal letters are a special and unique form of communication. Somehow e-mail missives just aren’t the same as handwritten letters. 

Silver ink well I inherited from my maternal grandmother Annie Jantz Schmidt. Grandma received it as a Christmas gift from her brother Henry in 1911

I lament the loss of personal letters every time I look at this lovely heirloom letter writing set I inherited from my maternal grandmother Annie Schmidt.  She had beautiful handwriting and wrote many letters to family members. 

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1 Comment

Filed under Family, Writing

One response to “A Lament For Letters

  1. Shelley

    Hi there, I’m Shelley, and I’m married to Steve Enns, who is the son of Ken & Rita Enns. I’m Facebook friends with Aunt Marion, and her post had me stumbling on to your blog! How very interesting I find your writings!
    I’m wondering if you would be interested, contact me about the Enns family history. Last year I typed out the handwritten account of the Enns Family you reference, and gave it to Ken as a gift. The idea was to print out copies for the kids, but I would love to include more maps & photos. I have a few, but you are showing some I haven’t seen of Gertrude Enns’ family. Hope to hear from you, and thanks again for the great reads, Shelley


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