There is no way to describe what grandma did other than to say it oozed with love. Pure and simple, from the heart, ooey, gooey, syrupy, love. A mother’s love.
In January of 1951 when he was 21, dad entered the Navy. It happened to be the same day Joe Hamilton entered (not his real name).
Same day enlistees from the same area, they were naturally drawn together. Long hours at sea and free time fostered the beginning of long conversations, especially of home. Even though dad was on the USS Boxer, the USS Weiss, and the USS Point Cruz, he and Joe managed to stay in the same areas, on the same ships, for much of their four years. They became fast friends.
As with anything, there are highs and lows, ups and downs. In the navy however, nothing meant more than to hear from home. Over time, as dad and Joe shared more and more, something began to eat at dad.
“At long last Hamilton finally received two letters today,” dad wrote home.
The date was May 26, 1953, over two years since they initially left port.
“He almost fainted dead away,” dad added.
Reading books and writing letters took up much of the men’s spare time. If they were lucky enough to borrow a typewriter, or whether hand written, most of the men wrote home.
“Believe it or not, they are the first letters he’s received since we left the states.”
Dad’s anger was growing. He knew the value of communication from home. Aside from the connection, the caring, and the I Miss Yous, dad sold a business, bought a car, and managed his finances while aboard. His connection to home was invaluable. It helped him survive and plan for his future.
“Neither of them were from his parents–they have yet to write him.”
Grandma often baked cookies for dad. She sent them along with home made jam. Berries from the garden? Home made jam? What could be better while at sea?
“He is accumulating a lot of bitterness for his folks. He’s written to them several times but it didn’t pay off.”
Knowing grandma, this broke her heart. The fix? Operation baked with love was born. Now that she could do.
A couple of letters further into the pile, I found the above. Grandma baked and sent Joe his very own box of cookies. Knowing grandma and her kindness, she couldn’t bear the thought of any of the men feeling forgotten.
“I really don’t know how to express my gratitude for such a kindness, but it sure was swell of you,” Joe wrote to grandma.
“I’ll probably see you when Rod and I get our next leave….he says that you are quite a person…I can well believe it,” wrote Joe.
I don’t know whether Joe and grandma ever met. Dad likely made sure of it. I don’t recall conversations in the later years about he and Joe, whether or not they stayed in touch. In another set of letters a friend from California whom the men met in Los Angeles wrote later, after the navy years, trying to find Joe. She only had his parents’ address. My thought was, good luck with that…
I am guessing Joe and dad lost touch. He may still be living. I have not yet tried to find him. I may.
When it mattered, grandma stepped in and helped make one young man far from home feel loved. It’s ooey, gooey love. It’s a mother’s love.
Never mind this was 62 years ago. Grandma’s kindness touched my heart.
It lives on.