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Timeless Love

Whispers from the Past
Dedicated to Jasper and his girl

Submitted by Elizabeth

Jasper is dead. He was my father's uncle, though they never met. He died young—a train accident more than 50 years ago. I only met Jasper recently in the pages of letters he sent home while serving in the Navy. In the yellowing photos he is a strong, fair-haired sailor--casual and smiling—like he just popped out of an old MGM Musical. He is surrounded by greenery that looks lush and inviting even in black and white. The stationary bears post marks from Hawaii and still smells like cigarettes after half-a-century. The blue ink pictures show palm trees and hula dancers and whisper enchantingly of somewhere warm and exotic. One letter catches my attention particularly; Jasper enclosed a paper napkin and coaster from a bar that is surely gone now. He writes in his scrawling print about a girl he met there, and how they are dating. Strange how things that happened fifty years ago on a tropical island I've never been to can seem so immediate and close. I can almost hear the music they danced to and smell the coconut breeze. The ocean seems so near, even in Kansas, when I read his letters. I like to think that they held hands while they strolled along white sand beaches letting the ocean kiss their toes—Jasper and his girl. Maybe he whispered sweet nothings to her under a moon, big and round and bright, hung in the sky just to illuminate their love.

My love and I reread his letters, sharing a blanket on the porch swing while the snow drifts down like little pieces of clouds. Our breath freezes before us and he asks if I can see the ocean when I close my eyes. We'll go there, we say, someday. We'll walk on those white sands and the ocean breezes will kiss our cheeks and eyelids. We will eat juicy chunks of pineapple still warm from the sun and let the sweet syrup run down our finger and hands and drip from sticky elbows. We will watch children playing in the sand and drink a toast to Jasper's children who never were. We will hold hands and whisper sweet nothings under the very same moon as Jasper and his girl.

All the pictures we have of Jasper are black and white, but in my mind he is always the jewel-tones of Hawaii: greens, blues, pinks and oranges so vivid I can almost touch them with my hands. His words teach us the taste of Hawaii, sweet and tangy and tropical. Even the thin stationary paper rustles like palm leaves in a Hawaiian breeze. Jasper was raised on a farm in Texas, but my love and I will always know him best in Hawaii.


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