Dear Readers: A reader, who called herself "Upset Daughter," wrote to me, saying that her 90-year-old mother had old letters from her father that she was considering shredding.
Upset and her sister wanted their mother to let them read the letters, and they asked my opinion. I made a case for sharing and preserving these letters, written while their father was in the Navy.
Some readers interpreted my enthusiasm over preserving old letters as an exhortation that the reader should pressure her mother. Absolutely not. These letters belong to the recipient and their disposition should be completely up to her.
I received many responses.
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Dear Amy: My father served in the Navy in World War II. He passed away in 1985, my mother in 1999. When she knew her time was nearing, she handed me a box of airmail letters, written by both during that time.
There were cutouts in the letters, as they were censored for security purposes, and they also contained references to the musical artists and movies of the time, and just how "swell" things were back then!
What a treasure to have, and to know of the love they once had for each other (but never seemed to display when my brothers and I were growing up).
It gave me peace to know that they really did love each other at one time.
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Dear Amy: I came across my parents' love letters while cleaning out their home. My dad served during World War II, then often traveled the country looking for work, all this time corresponding with Mom.
My mother treasured these letters for 70 years.
I never read all of them, and didn't want to. They weren't all sweet and rosy.
There were miscarriages, extreme financial hardships and family turmoil.
These letters were personal, private correspondences between my parents.
When my parents passed, they were both cremated and buried in the same vault, along with their love letters. It was the perfect ending.
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Dear Amy: Maybe "Upset Daughter's" mom considers these letters too personal for someone else to read.
I and my husband of 45 years have saved nearly three years of correspondence from the years prior to our moving in together.
Even though I haven't read them in ages, I know some are "racy," and all are very personal!
Though it might be interesting to read the love letters of a gay couple from that time period, I'm not sure I want my nieces and nephews reading these emotionally intimate letters.
He burned them all, along with every one of the many he wrote — after she died when I was 16. It still hurts.
I hope "Upset's" mother will save those letters.
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Dear Amy: When my mom died last year, I found two letters she had written to my dad when he was on an aircraft carrier off the coast of Vietnam in 1967.
I was a baby, not yet walking at the time. Those letters gave me a glimpse into her life over 50 years before, and I found them to be a great treasure. Save the letters!
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at email@example.com.