Saturday, November 24, 2012

A letter from my grandpa

Vinton Merrill when he was missionary age.

I was going through a box of my stuff labeled "notebooks and journals youth and college." I was looking for a list that I wrote a long time ago, a gratitude list, to share in my talk at church tomorrow. I didn't find it but I came across this letter from my grandpa. He wrote this to me when I was a missionary in Italy. I love this letter. I'm sharing an excerpt with you.

"It will be 60 years this spring since I was released from the German-Austrian mission and traveled alone from Berlin to Rome, Paris, London and Southampton where I boarded a ship with other missionaries returning home from Europe. My subsequent life has been enriched many fold by the mission and travel experiences that I was privileged to enjoy.

I rode a local train over the Brenner pass to Italy. It stopped at a small town somewhere in the Italian Alps. At about midnight the train stopped and they put us off. The station and the rest of the town was buttoned up tight. Besides the train crew, who offered me no assistance, there was only one other person visible. A young man about my own age stepped up to me and in halting English asked me about my situation and offered to put me up for the night. I learned about love of fellow man from an Italian at midnight in a remote village in the Alps. In the morning he fed me and put me on the train and sent me off to Venice and Florence and Rome and Pisa.

I was the only person in the Leaning Tower when I climbed it. Now, I understand, the Tower has been closed to visitors I know you will learn to love the Italian people as I did. May this be your happy lot!"

Picturing this moment in time is priceless to me. I'm so grateful that he took the time to write me, to share this part of his life. I have a lot of saved notes and letters, something that my children will find funny and almost foreign as they grow up in this digital age. Of course we can express our love via email and other social media, but finding written words of love and affection tucked away in a box is such a special thing. It makes me want to write letters, the old-fashioned way.

(ps -- last week Eric had the kids in his Sunday school class write letters to their parents. More than half the kids in the class didn't know how to address a letter properly.)


Lynne said...

This is a tender article, Paige. I love to look at old letters and I've saved many over the years. You will always be glad that you've saved some of yours. And someday your kids will think like you--but likely not until it's too late for them to let you know!

Kim said...

I love reading old letters like these. They bring me back to the simpler times and make me want to pull out my old letters.

Shannon said...

Thanks for sharing this - what a treasure! There is something so much more personal in a written letter than an email or text; I now treasure recipe cards written in my Great-Grandma Malone's flowing script, and books bearing inscriptions in my Grandma Pearl's petite print. Hand written letters carry something of the person who penned them.

shanonsmiles said...

Thank you for sharing. I have never heard that story before.

Lark said...

What a great keepsake.