|Mom, age 15 with her brother Kenny|
While my dear mother passed away several years ago, my father was not in a hurry to clean out her room. In fact he never did, I finally started the melancholy task last year. Tucked in a prayer book, I found an old, yellowed Christmas card with a letter inside. It was written to my mother by her paternal grandmother Mary Wiggins, (1870-1958), who lived in Wolcott, New York.
|Mary Wiggins with my Mother's brother Kenny|
Mary raised my mother after her mother, Grace Galloway, was killed in a kerosene explosion while filling her kitchen stove one January morning in 1934. Grace survived the explosion, but died of her burns seven hours later. My mother was only seven years old at the time.
In 1945, Mom married a Marine sergeant named Daniel Carroll, but she would lose him too. In June of 1950, Daniel was sent to Korea and Mom left Camp Pendleton, California where they had been stationed, and returned to New York. Six months later, just before Christmas, she received word he had been killed at the Chosin Reservoir when fragments of an enemy mortar shell struck him.
This sad missive was written to Mother at the time of Daniel's death; it took me awhile to decipher it, Grandmother's hand was quite shaky by that time. She wrote :
I had just addressed a card to you when Elsie came with the news so I will write also. I know that you are heart broken and my heart aches for you. I carried a heart ache for you many days when you didn't realize it. Although I seldom cry I felt like crying every time I looked at you when you first came here to live for you were so little to be left without a mother. I wish I could have done more for you.
I realize from experience that no one can help you in the dark days ahead although you have many who care for and sympathize with you. I was very ambitious for you with your active mind and fine personality you were capable of doing great good in this world.
I trust that you may be divinely blessed and guided in the future and will yet find happiness and life worth living although different from your plans.
This letter makes my heart hurt. Mom lived through such sadness. She married my father five years after Daniel's death, and had two children but this letter obviously meant alot to her. She must have received many letters and cards from her grandmother over the years--this is the one she kept the rest of her life.
|Mom, on the day she married her Marine|