Imagine being able to glimpse your parents' relationship before you were born.
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Author Loraine Fergusson, 61, of Didcot, Oxfordshire has unearthed 300 love letters between her late parents during the throes of their courtship at the end of World War II, many of which she's published on her blog With Love from Graz.
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Fergusson had been recording her mother’s recollections of the war for about a decade as research for a historical novel she planned to write, when she finally asked to read the letters her mother had long kept private. “She said they were soppy and might embarrass me, but finally decided I could have them with the promise that I wouldn't read them or publish them until after she was gone," Fergusson told Yahoo! Shine.
In April, four years after her mother died, Fergusson decided to open the letters. “I was at the point where I could read them without feeling too sad,” she says. She was so inspired by her parents' romance that she created a blog to celebrate their love story.
And what a story it was. Her father, a British surgeon Brian Thomas, 34, fell in love with her mother Katie Walker, 23, a nurse in Graz, Austria at the end of World War II in 1946. Thomas had been working abroad with the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1942 and was posted in an Austrian hospital in 1945 where Walker worked as a nurse.
“They were both working in the same hospital when my father walked into a supplies room and asked my mother where a particular surgical instrument was,” Fergusson says. “She led him to a cabinet to pull one out but when she opened the doors, it contained stacks of condoms. They both were pretty embarrassed and my mother slammed the door shut. When they burst into laughter, they realized they shared the same sense of humor,” she says.
At the time, Brian was married to someone else, and about to file for divorce. After it was finalized, the couple were together non-stop for the next four months, snapping photographs of their daily life together as they fell in love. “When my father had to return to Britain, they spent the next 8 months writing love letters to each other." Enclosed in those letters were often photos of their time together, and pictures of their lives without each other.
Their correspondence, sometimes simply through doodles and postcards, helped their long-distance love grow. So did their curious pet name, “Boofuls.” On February 23, 1946, Thomas wrote: “Boofuls darling, you just cannot conceive how I’m missing you. I thought as the weeks went by that I’d get a bit more used to being apart from you, but I don’t. It is just that you are now a part of me, and until you are with me again, the gap is bound to be there and make itself felt. Dearest dearest one, I do love you so very much and far more than I’ll ever be able to tell you in mere words. And to know that you love me makes the blackness of my present existence bearable. God knows how I would have felt, honey lamb, if there has not been an usses to help me along.”
The following day, he wrote: “This morning I walked for two hours, had lunch at Stewarts in Piccadilly, walked for a further two hours, went to a flick (Bob Hope and Bing Crosby) had dinner in a little restaurant in Sloane Street, and here I am. I’ll be glad when I pull out tomorrow. Darling one, don’t think I’m getting sorry for myself. I’m not, but I hate being on my own so much. When we are together again, I’ll tell you all my adventures, and we’ll laugh at them.”
A letter from Thomas to Walker on March 22, 1946: "My dearest darling Brian, Such a sweet letter from you today, four pages of the most wonderful things that were ever said to any loving female and when I was reading it I just felt like crying for sure joy. My bursting point was so terrific that my eyes were quite wet. That’s the effect your letters have on me which proves pretty conclusively but I’m very much in love with you, my darling one, although I’ve never needed anything to prove it. I’ve just always known it deep down in my heart. How could I help but love you when you are all the things I have ever wanted anyone to be?"
Later that day: My own dearest, darling Brian…Today the sun is shining and it is just like the summer. If you would hear my own one we could go for a walk up the Maria Trost have a picnic and lie in the sun… Darling darling I duvoo, duvoo, duvoo. It is just as well you aren’t here today as I am so hamstrung with love that I should probably chase you all round the hospital… To my horror the egg man keeps rushing up and asking me to go out with him but so far I have managed to avoid the evil day and always try to look vacant and dumb whenever he speaks to me!
April 25, 1946: “My dearest beautiful lovely darling Katie…Darling, how lonely you must feel. If only I could be there. Sweetest, if it gets too much for you, come home on leave. We’ll meet somehow, even if I have to tell your people that they have the most wonderful sweetest daughter in the world and that I’m going to pursue her until she is finally mine forever! But I’m sure if they could have been a fly on the wall at the Wiesler they’d have no doubts that we two are the happiest and nicest pair on earth.”
May 2 1946: "All the time your letters have been so consoling and so adorably sweet. In future I’ll always describe them as a tonic. If I ever have a bloke with the acute blues, I’ll tell him “find yourself a Boofuls – exactly like mine in every respect, and just ask her to write to you and all your cares will dribble away like ducks' water… Good night my very dearest lovely darling and never forget that I love you very very much. Brian xxx”
Sometimes the letters were surprisingly steamy. For the time, such effusive letters between an unmarried woman and man (who was still in the process of divorce) were not exactly wholesome.“I wasn’t nervous reading such sentiments from my parents because I’ve watched their love story growing up,” says Fergusson, whose parents finally wed in March 1947. “It was fascinating to read about my mother as a young girl in love. It made me think back to all the times I shouted to her as a teen, ‘You just don’t understand!’ when in fact, she really did understand.
“When my father slipped into a coma at age 72 after suffering a heart attack, my mother was by his side in the hospital every day. When he opened his eyes and she asked ‘Is there anything you need?’ he said, ‘Only you.’ Those were his last words to her before he died.
"My mother was heartbroken but said, ‘I had 35 wonderful years of that man. I will cry alone but I won’t make everyone else miserable.’ And she was a wonderful grandmother to my three children.”
Walker died in 2009 at age 86. “She just said, ‘I’ve been here long enough’ and passed away. I like to think my parents are together,” says Fergusson.
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