The next letter is dated October 9, 1967. In this letter, she talks about not hearing back from my father in over a week and she expresses her concerns about the possibilities of why…did her letter not reach him or did the contents of her letter scare him? These are things I addressed in the previous blog post about how difficult it had to be dealing with written correspondence in the 1960’s. She goes on to describe her feelings and how much she wants to see and talk to my father in person. Again, I revert to my stance on the importance of face to face communication and it saddens me that she was going through this. She describes how it’s not easy for her to fall out of love and in love as fast as other people do and she feels she thinks about it too much. I see her as being wise and cautious. Relationships are worth it. There is conversation mentioning people they must have jointly known and she talks about wondering if they know about the baby she and my father had. She divulges how people gossip and talk and are nosy about other people’s private business. I wish I could say that with time that has changed, but people can still be nosy, talk and be full of gossip. The difference today is that so many things are more acceptable and less judged today. This doesn’t apply to everything but society in general has a greater expanse of acceptance and tolerance compared to the 1960’s. There is more discussion in the letter asking how my father’s parents reacted to the news and she continues to talk about trying to make up her mind about who she wants to have a relationship with since she is torn between my father and another man. I’m sure this was very difficult especially to have to write instead of being able to discuss in person. I’m a little confused about her statements regarding blood type. In the letter she asks what my father’s blood type is and she says what her type is and she goes on to say that the baby, “…could have been born a blue-baby. In other words might have had to had 7 or 8 blood transfusions.” She asks if my father would like to have a picture of Lee or if he would prefer to wait until she makes her decision who she wants to be with. She continues expressing concern for privacy with correspondence due to nosy coworkers. She closes by asking my father to please write and she says she thinks about him a lot.
The postmark on the next letter is dated October 16, 1967. It is written in cursive in green ink. The letter starts on a Friday and she talks about getting his letter and references her hopes and good luck that he gets a job I assume he must have been trying to get. She asks how far it is from Columbus to his home and she compares the 300 miles from Mt. Airy to Columbus which she had experience with due to showing cattle there one year. She talks about how her father is looking at farms around Charleston WV through Jefferson County areas and how beautiful she thinks it is. She states that she couldn’t stand how crowded Maryland is by comparison and she wanted to go back. I would like to interject that my father and his family are from WV and some still live there to this day. She talks about her youngest brother getting married and how that makes her the last to be married. There is some small talk about cars and then the letter transitions. The date is Monday and is now in blue ink. She says that Lee is 8 months old today and she is going to send his picture. She talks about visiting family in Virginia and traveling through West Virginia and she repeats her admiration of the Jefferson County area with emphasis on the abundant apple orchards and passing Harpers Ferry. She shares how passing by it brought back a memory of her being there on a Sunday with my father and two other people and how she remembered my father telling her how much she would like it in West Virginia. There is more mentioned about the other two people and reference to them moving to other divisions and not being in contact anymore. There seems to be some well deserved excitement about her getting her GS-5 and how the extra money was beneficial. There is more discussion about concerns over privacy and coworkers being nosy. It appears some of the things people are saying to her are causing her to question things regarding my father. This is another thing I find so troubling. People can be driven by all kinds of motives, to include jealousy and so I wonder if some of the things people said to her were not with good intentions. It’s just my thoughts. I can’t help but feel that both of them were going through a lot and as much as I would like to wish that everyone had all three of their best interests in mind, that isn’t always the case with some people.
The last page is written in the green ink and gives some statistics on Lee:
His full name
Born February 16,1967 2:45am
Birth weight: 7lb. 6oz.
October 12th, 1967 Weight: 21 lb. 7 ½ oz.
Eyes: China Blue
Hair: Ash Blonde
“Four teeth and two more on the way. He can sit up and pull up, but he can’t quite crawl. He can say Dah-Dah and likes to wrinkle his nose up. And loves to sleep with me. He’ll eat anything that gets in front of him including paper.”
I have looked at that particular page many times along with the picture.
The next letter is dated November 13, 1967. She opens with talking about correspondence and the true unreliability and confusion it breeds in terms of letter writing. She mentions enclosing some pictures of Lee. I only have the one, so I am uncertain where the others went or if perhaps they are with other family pictures. As I mentioned previously, this one picture and these cards and letters are all I have in my possession. If there are others, I don’t have them as of the time of this post. She says that Lee will be 9 months on the 16th, weighs 22 lbs and mentions how he is trying to walk but no luck yet. The letter takes a more serious tone and talks about my father’s mother and it appears the situation was not pleasant. Bonnie appears so wise, strong and responsible and she talks about how people make mistakes and are forgiven. I don’t know that I could say that I could be that resilient in that situation and in the given time period. More is discussed about wondering if her and my father are going to work things out and make it. She goes on to say that if they do go their separate ways she hopes he finds the right girl and hopes that she will understand and accept this situation and the baby that came with it as the result of things. It’s hard for me to write those words because I don’t want them to sound wrong. I want it stated that there is absolutely nothing wrong or shameful or regretful about the reality that a baby came out of their relationship despite the situation. His life and existence was clearly meant to be. We don’t always understand the why, but it is the reality and there is nothing wrong. Bonnie continues talking about forgiveness and being forgiven and how no one should feel burdened with any guilt. It’s so hard to read those words and attempt to comprehend what she was going through. She transitions to small talk about hoping it will snow for Christmas so that Lee can experience it. There’s more chat about cooking and coworkers and other odds and ends. She closes with teasingly adding, “I guess you kept me from joining the Air Force, didn’t you? (Remember that?)”. She ends the letter with “Always, Bonnie”.
I’m not sure what transpired in the 7 days from the previous letter to the last one I am about to share, but it is clear, things have changed and it is evident from every detail. The envelope is much smaller than all the previous ones. In previous letters, “Mr.” was in front of my father’s name. But this one just has his name and address. There is one page inside. At the top appears to be a stationary letterhead with her name, family farm name, city and state. The date is November 20, 1967. The letter reads:
My answer is no. So please leave me alone. I plan on being married in January 1968 and Lee will have a legal name. Nothing you can say will change my mind. Bonnie”
And that’s it. At least that is it in terms of the letters that I have. Does the story end there? Of course not. Because people go on and live their lives. They may choose different paths but their lives go on. Their journeys go on. When these letters were exchanged, I wasn’t alive. My journey had not begun. Many years would pass before I would learn about all of this. And a few more years would pass before I had the courage to fully explore it. So here I am ready to continue on my journey of connection and see where it takes me next.