Gale loved to explore. Whether it was a bird’s nest in an outside tree or old memories tucked away in a closet, her curious, 10-year-old nature made it her business to discover new things. So when her family went to her great grandfather’s house to clean it up and condense its contents, it was a young explorer’s dream.
Now travelling through the very old attic, she felt she had entered into an ancient treasure chamber. Opening a dusty old hope chest, she began sorting through the items. She skimmed through an old photo album filled with black and white moments from a bygone period; she played dress up in an old wedding dress (it was a bit too large). She fiddled with a box of rusty trinkets and a collection of stamps and coins. Then her inquisitive eyes set upon a pack of wrinkled letters held together by a scarlet ribbon. She untied the ribbon, opened the first letter, and read: “To my beautiful Gale…”
Word after word, letter after letter, she read carefully composed phrases and thoughts born of a heart that deeply cherished their recipient. “You are so precious to me.” “You and I are going to have some wonderful adventures together.” “I will never break my promises to you.” “I will always be with you.” “I love you so much that I can hardly stand it.”
Finishing the last letter, Gale felt the confusion settle in. She knew these letters were much, much older than she. How did her great grandfather know that she would exist when he wrote them? How did he know what her name would be? But most of all, in all of her visits, how come he had never given her these letters? She decided she would ask him when they visited him at the assisted living home later that evening. It was his ninetieth birthday.
Later that evening, the whole family celebrated in the rec room at the home. There were balloons, chocolate cake, humorous cards, serious cards; there were hugs and kisses, laughter and stories, songs and speeches. Finally Gale spotted a moment she could speak with her great grandfather.
“Gale,” he softly spoke. “Are you having fun?”
“Yes, Grandpa. The cake was yummy.”
“Are you being a good girl?” he asked.
“I think so,” she replied. “I was in your attic today. I was exploring.”
“Yeah?” he said.
“I found these letters up there,” she said as she took the pack of letters out of her little pink backpack.
Her great grandfather took a moment to look through them. For a moment, his eyes began to tear up a little. “I haven’t seen this letters in a very long time.”
“Grandpa, how come you never gave me these letters?”
After a pause, he looked at her confused. “Hmm?”
“How come you never game me these letters? They’re all written to me.”
Her great grandfather sat for a second, looking through the letters again and then he smiled. “Because I wrote them to your great grandmother. Her name was Gale, too.”
Then after another pause, her great grandfather took her small young hand into his wrinkled palm, kissed it and said “But I love you, too.”
Gale stood there at her great grandfather’s side for a second as she let his words sink in, that these letters so full of love were not actually addressed to her, and yet the love that filled these paragraphs still so formed her mind and filled her heart.