Shall I Say a Kiss? Preface continued...
banner It was a given in our family that my father was smarter than my mother, but one could be convinced otherwise by these letters. His letters go on without any memorable phrases, while hers are sharp, to the point, and perhaps more skillfully written. Hers are certainly more fun to read, as reflected in her saucy retort to him, "Did you expect me to propose first?"

Morris' declaration of love and his proposal of marriage came so soon after the onset of the correspondence. This was not at variance with his nature, which was somewhat impulsive. But Eva's strong-willed comments like "You have no right to balance my love for you in whether I go to America with you or not." and "Nothing will make me change my mind," surprise me and cause me to wonder what she was like as a young woman. She certainly was not like that as a mature woman when she rarely exerted her will.

However, when she says, "I will be a good wife to you," I know that her promise and prophesy were to come true as the marriage ripened into old age. And she was self-reliant then, as she demonstrates when she writes that she has saved enough money to buy her own wedding dress. I do not picture her as self-reliant when I envision my mother.

It is interesting to note the range of emotions in these letters, from anger to love, from joy to bitter disappointment. Eva is shocked by Morris' impulsive actions in asking favors of her relatives and proud, as when she scolds him, "I wonder what our relatives think of us now." I cannot recall ever seeing my mother shocked, since she always retained her sense of pride and dignity in front of others. I often thought of her as a regal person. To my mind, she bore a striking resemblance to Queen Elizabeth.

The thread that carries through from these letters to the people I knew as my parents was the expression of emotion. My mother was a reticent person and was reluctant to make a great display of her emotions, whereas my father was more openly demonstrative of affection and, possibly, more in need of expressions of love.

Now, as I re-read their correspondence, I am drawn back into the dim recesses of memory as I become a child again, recalling what it was like to journey through a deaf world. Images, sounds and people rise from the past to reassert their places in my recollections. Events I hadn't thought of in years become as fresh as yesterday's newspaper.

Eva became deaf at the age of six. When I was a child, I was told that she had fallen over backwards in a rocking chair and had hit her head and that was the cause of her deafness. I later learned that she had contracted meningitis, from which she recovered fully except for the loss of her hearing. She had the facility of speech when she became deaf (a delightful English accent from the town of her birth, Liverpool) so she was able to make herself understood to the hearing world with little difficulty.

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