No Way to Say Goodbye

“I received one of the biggest disappointments tonight that has occurred since I have been here,” Grandpa wrote Friday night, May 17. That’s when he learned there would be no more passes issued, no more trips home, no way to say goodbye to Grandma before he was sent overseas.

5-17-18, no passes, 1

Letter to Grandma, May 17, 1918, the first of four pages.

He ended with a reference to a letter from Grandma. “I sure got a good one from you, saying you were longing for the time when we could be together all the time. I sure am the same way and worse, as I think more about it every day.” He then rehashed the misunderstanding from his last trip home, and wrote about his regrets. “Nevertheless if it was to be done over I would . . . ”

5-17-18, no passes, 4 cropped

Letter, last page, May 17, 1918.

He continued to express this “maby never” fear in his next letter, writing on Saturday, May 18, “I want you to do just as you feel. I know you are for me and true as can be . . . but I don’t want you to stay too close. Go when you can and enjoy your self. And say to your self (I have a man someplace somewhere that is thinking about me) that is doing his duty.”

Reading these sentiments, a hundred years later, I’m saddened at the burden my grandfather carried, as he prepared for the uncertainties of battle. He could imagine never seeing Grandma again. He wanted to encourage her to enjoy herself, make the best of a situation neither of them had wanted, neither could control. Of course, he wasn’t alone in his dark musings.

One of his friends, a man named Wayne, “is sure worrying his head off about his wife and parents,” Grandpa wrote on Tuesday, May 21.

5-21-18 edited cropped

Letter May 21, 1918.

What was coming next was the transport of nearly 50,000 men from Camp Funston. Grandpa was one of them, “in that same box.”

Next post: Trainloads of Troops


One thought on “No Way to Say Goodbye

  1. Susan, I’m sad he didn’t get to say a real farewell to her — but these could be terribly w renching occasions themselves my parents parted after their honeymoon week in wwii and daddy went off and wrote my mother that it was “the hardest thing he’d ever done.” He expected to be shipped out, probably to japan– june 1945. Thank goodness for the surrender. Then he had — t h ey had– to possess their souls in patience for several months and his discharge.


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