What did your parents teach you about love? CBC listeners share romantic tales

To celebrate Valentine’s Day, CBC’s The Early Edition held a contest, asking listeners to share love lessons learned from their parents. The emails started pouring in and many of them were so touching they caused staff to get a wee bit weepy.

Here are some of those romantic stories.

Love letters from the battlefield

Susan Rome’s parents taught her there is nothing like a love letter. Her father and mother wrote to each other for three years while her father was overseas in the Second World War and continued the tradition of writing love notes for 57 years after that. Below is a copy of one letter sent from overseas during the war, dated Jan. 1, 1945.

My Dearest Elaine,

I have little I am able to say about what’s going on here but I do know that I would like to have you with me tonight, so very much.

Would you like to go sliding in the snowstorm now taking place, or perhaps dance to the music coming to us via shortwave, or perhaps just sit around and help us eat the packages from home, or would you rather play a game of gin rummy? Maybe you have other ideas too.

It is now midnight, or 00:02 to be exact and darling, I have just toasted you with champagne.

May this be a very Happy New Year for you, for us all. I hope that by Valentine’s Day we will be together again.

Write me often, very often my darling.

Love, love, and more love,

Hale

Susan Rome’s father Hale sent her mother Elaine love letters for almost 60 years. (Susan Rome)

Till death do us part

Isabelle Forrer’s parents taught her about sticking by someone through the hard times. Her letter below is a testament to her parents’ devotion to one another through illness.

My father was 15 years older than my mother and never expected to outlive her. He retired early at 55, just as my mom was starting her teaching career at a college after being a mom for many years. 

As Mom approached her own retirement, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease at 63 and developed dementia, which made her more and more dependent on my dad.

 He stuck by her, taking her hand to lead her down to dinner, giving her her medication, and being her caregiver. 

I didn’t truly appreciate the severity of her condition until she began living with me, to ease the burden on my father. The first time I had to help her on the toilet, I realized how devoted he had been to her.

When we moved my mother to a care facility, my aging father walked to visit her twice a day despite his own mobility issues. I came upon them one day, sitting on the small sofa in her room. She was rubbing his protruding belly, as he sat snoring with his arm around her and she smiled as I entered. In these rare moments of lucidity, I got a glimpse of how their lives could have been.  

A short time later, I took a photo of my father reaching over to hold Mom’s hand as she lay semi-conscious in her bed. To me it commemorates the true love and commitment they shared for 49 years. 

Mom died just before her 71st birthday. Dad was 85. He died the following year, some say of a broken heart. 

Isabelle Forrer’s father walked to visit her mother in a care facility twice a day, every day. (Isabelle Forrer)

Love at first sight

Maxine Adam learned from her parents, Albert Watt Fox and Helen Smeaton, that you can find love on the dance floor. 

My mum met my dad in Edinburgh during the Second World War. He was a Canadian soldier at a local dance hall that was in full war time swing!

Dad said he spotted my mum across a crowded room with her lovely auburn hair shining in the lights. This big shy Saskatchewan farm boy plucked up the courage to ask her to dance and it was love at first sight for both of them! 

He even remembered the song they danced to then, Bing Crosby’s, ‘Where the Blue of the Night (Meets the Gold of the Day).’

He escorted her home in the blackout, no mean feat in those dark days of the war, and they wrote every day to each other thereafter.   

He was in the Canadian Forestry Corp., working in the north of Scotland, a damaged left eye keeping him, thankfully, out of the shooting war. 

They were married in 1943 and I arrived one year later. My dad didn’t get to meet me until I was a year old, signing up again with the Canadian Seaforth Highlanders after being sent home from the Forestry Corp., to get back to Scotland and see me!   

He was then sent over to Holland to round up and guard German prisoners of war in and then demobbed to Canada. 

My mum and I joined the many war brides sailing to Canada for a new life in 1946, landing at Halifax on the Queen Mary and making our way across Canada to Vancouver to join my dad.

Alas, my mum was diagnosed with TB not long after arriving and was confined to hospital for five years before passing away at 32 in 1952. My dad never stopped loving my mum and passed away in 2016 at 101. 

He never forgot his lovely red haired Scottish lass.

Love advice from an elder

Chiara Montessori learned from her grandmother-in-law that sometimes you just have to grab the horse by the reins when it comes to love.

I learned from my grandmother-in-law, who used to joke, “Honey, I’m so old, I don’t even buy green bananas!”

A few years after her first husband passed, she fell in love in her mid 70s. She knew love when she saw it, and, true to her spirit, grabbed that man, rented a horse and carriage, and married him in her purple dress!

They only had a year together before he, too, passed away, but what a year they had!

Even though she grieved deeply at the loss, she never regretted the love they shared, and fully enjoyed their short time together.

Her motto was “live well, laugh often, and love much” and she truly lived by that motto. She never gave up on love, and taught everyone around her that life was meant for sharing, loving, and laughing!

She was a bright light, and her lessons about embracing love and taking chances are, I think, fundamental to understanding what we are all here for!

Love is acceptance

Tap the audio link to hear a listener recount the emotional moment his parents met someone very close to him who was dying of AIDS.

A listener recounts when his friend who was dying of AIDS met his parent’s for the first time and love prevailed. 1:52

Letters from listeners have been edited for clarity and brevity.

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