I sent my first letter to my wife – then the target of my distant admiration – 50 years ago. We still have that letter, but I have not read it since I mailed it. Now I decide to read it. If I remember correctly, the letter ended in an explicit question, to which I expected to get an answer. I do not remember how precisely I formulated that question, but in plain language I meant to ask: “Would you like to be my girlfriend?”
It was not easy to write the first letter. I had never talked to that lovely person, and we only knew each other by sight. I had decided to keep the letter fairly short. I wrote and re-wrote it many times, but all versions got crumpled up and thrown into the waste bin.
Finally, I was satisfied with the content and wrote the final copy in my best cursive. Then I biked to the mailbox. For a long time I kept the letter hanging between my fingers before I plucked up my courage and let it fall into box. I then began to wait for an answer.
For the next few days I waited eagerly for the mail lady. As soon as I saw her biking toward our home, I went out to meet her. A few days later there was a letter for me in a floral-patterned envelope. My name had been written on the envelope in beautiful handwriting. I sat down on the bank of the ditch and opened it.
She had written a full page. I do not remember what she wrote about. I guess it was just something about her everyday life. If I remember correctly, there was no direct answer to my question. I remember well the last sentence, however. It seemed somehow puzzling to me, and I had to read it many times. It said: “I am only fifteen years old.” Two years younger than me.
Now I decide to find out how I had formulated that crucial question. I open my letter and begin to read the text I wrote half a century ago. The letter begins: “I have to write to you ” I then find that I do not want share the full content of the letter after all. To my surprise, there is no direct question in the letter – only a request for correspondence. Maybe the outspoken question that I had in my mind got somehow hidden between the lines.
It took a while before we could muster up the courage to talk. We only corresponded, although we went to the same school. My little sister helped us exchange letters.
When we finally sat together at services, the elderly ladies in our congregation kept saying how very, very young we were. We got engaged two and a half years later and had a long engagement. The same ladies then kept wondering when, if ever, we would finally get married. Three years after our engagement we stood at the altar together.
Time passed, and we had several children. When they grew up, they began to ask question our courting. They read my first letter. They were especially interested in how I had proposed to their mother. We had to admit that I had never properly proposed to her. The children were astonished and asked how we could ever have ended up married without a proposal. They laughed and said I should make good for this shortcoming.
I got up from the sofa, knelt down in front of my wife and said: ”Would you have become my wife if I had been smart enough to ask?” She laughed and said: “I would.”
On our wedding day decades ago we got valuable advice from the officiating minister Olavi Voittonen. His words of instruction have been like signposts on our journey together:
”Love is not only a feeling. It is a calling and a purpose in life. Whoever sows love will also reap love. This is truer in marriage than anywhere else.”
”Dear young people, let your home always be founded on faith, hope, and love. They are like keys, three golden keys to your own home and also to our eternal home in heaven.”
Text: Erkki Alasaarela
Translation: Sirkka-Liisa Leinonen
You will find the original Finnish blog post here.
Kesän 2020 Suviseurat järjestetään 26.–29. kesäkuuta radiossa ja netissä. Seuravieraat eivät kohtaa toisiaan nyt kenttäolosuhteissa, mutta kaikki voivat kuunnella Jumalan sanaa ja Kesäseuraradion ohjelmaa yksin tai läheistensä kanssa. Ohjelma lähetetään pääosin SRK:n toimistolta Oulusta.