The Lost Art Of The Love Letter — Check Out These Letters Heather’s Aunt Received!
If you have seen the first ‘Sex and the City’ movie, you will remember this scene where Carrie and Big are in bed, and Carrie is reading ‘Love Letters of Great Men’ for research for her next book.
(I know the quality is bad, forgive me.)
Here is the full letter that Beethoven wrote. It is said that Beethoven loved many women, but this letter, found after his death and addressed to no one, is still probably one the best love letters I’ve ever read.
Good morning, on July 7th
Even when I am in bed my thoughts rush to you, my eternally beloved, now and then joyfully, then again sadly, waiting to know whether Fate will hear our prayer–To face life I must live altogether with you or never see you. Yes, I am resolved to be a wanderer abroad until I can fly to your arms and say that I have found my true home with you and enfolded in your arms can let my soul be wafted to the realm on blessed spirits–alas, unfortunately it must be so–You will become composed, the more so as you know that I am faithful to you; no other woman can ever possess my heart–never–never–Oh God, why must one be separated from her who is so dear. Yet my life in V[ienna] at present is a miserable life–Your love has made me both the happiest and the unhappiest of mortals–At my age I now need stability and regularity in my life–can this coexist with our relationship?–Angel, I have just heard that the post goes every day–and therefore I must close, so that you may receive the letter immediately–Be calm; for only by calmly considering our lives can we achieve our purpose to live together–Be calm–love me–Today–yesterday–what tearful longing for you–for you–you–my life–my all–all good wishes to you–Oh, do continue to love me–never misjudge your lover’s most faithful heart.
After this video cuts off, Carrie goes on in the scene to say that Mr. Big has never written her a “love fax” or anything like that. (It becomes important later in the movie, but I don’t want to ruin it if for you if haven’t watched the movie yet.)
This scene made me think about the fact that we don’t write letters anymore. Sure we text, we email and we Facebook, but when was the last time you received a love letter?
While I was visiting family in New Jersey over the holidays, I spent some time with my aunt. She had brought out a bunch of old pictures to show her daughter, and in the same collection were a stack of old love letters — and when I say a stack, it had to be 4-6 inches thick!
In my life I’ve only ever received one letter from a guy, and I wouldn’t really qualify it as a “love letter”, so I was intrigued to read them. My aunt shared the story of her first love and how they started exchanging love letters:
In 1971, when my aunt was 16 years old, she traveled to Greece for six weeks with her Aunt Agnes. (Agnes was not related by blood but was a very good friend of her family, so out of respect, they call her Aunt Agnes.) Agnes had always told my aunt that “she had the man for her.” When they arrived in Greece, Agnes introduced my aunt to her nephew Villa.
My aunt and Villa spent her first day in Athens together exploring the city. They went to the Acropolis, the Parthenon and all the other well-known tourist spots. The craziest thing she told me was that she spoke no Greek, and he spoke no English, but that didn’t matter. They were so in sync that they knew what each other meant without saying a word.
After that first day they met, Villa had to go away for two weeks, and while my aunt met many other Greek men during that time, she thought a lot about Villa. On his first night back home, Villa serenaded my aunt all night long (think ‘Romeo and Juliet’ and the balcony scene). Eventually, Agnes’ husband John got tired of the singing and dumped water on Villa and threw shoes at him.
After that night, they were no longer allowed to spend time together alone because it was obvious that there were feelings involved, so they always had to have an escort when they went out. They had a great time together even with the language barrier: They went to the beach, cooked together, sang American songs, fished, hiked and spent a lot of time together during her remaining time in Greece.
On the last night before she flew back to the States, Villa took her on a carriage ride and also took her in a row boat along a beautiful cove. He presented her with a beautiful bouquet of gardenias, which she told me she still has today. Villa was 19 years old and about to go into the military, but they promised to write each other, and they did for almost two years.
Remember how I said that Villa didn’t speak any English, but the letters below are in English? My aunt told met that Villa would write the letter, then mail it to his sister, who would translate the letter into English and then mail it back to Villa. He would then copy the letter in English in his own handwriting and send it to my aunt. Here are some of the letters he wrote.
As I sat and read each of the letters, I thought about how we don’t communicate like this anymore and that the handwritten love letter is becoming a dying art. This Valentine’s Day, may I suggest that instead of getting a cheesy card from the store, you put pen to paper and let that special person in your life know exactly how you feel about them. It will be something they will cherish forever!