Writing, words and written work

My father’s love letters to my mother show that, although Whisper My Secret is a heart wrenching story of loss and separation, it is also a story of romance and enduring love. When my mother, Myrtle Webb, was forced to give up her first three children, she walked into the arms of a man whose passion and love for her endured through time, through poverty, hardship and illness.

I’ll let my father speak for himself through two of his letters to my mother. I have quoted from both of these letters in Whisper My Secret and I thought you might like to see copies of the originals. (You might prefer to finish the book before reading the letters.)

The first one was written in 1945 when Dad was still in the army and desperate to get out to be with Myrtle and their first-born, Bobby.

The second one was written almost twenty years later in 1964, when Dad was in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne terminally with leukaemia while Mum and us kids were miles away in Orbost. It is clear that his anguish at being separated from Myrtle was just as strong as it ever was.

Click on the images to make them larger.

For those of you who find my father’s handwriting difficult to read, I have transcribed the letters below.

Transcription of army letter 1945:

VX.62956 A.G.Rowley, 140 A.C.T. Coy, Site 16, Seymour, Vic

Dearest “Myrtle”,

Hello, “darl”, how are you today? It’s the old man again. Gosh, that makes me feel old as hell, ah well I guess we are getting old aren’t we? Well, I don’t know what to write about, “love”.

Well, there’s blokes here getting out every day all around me. There’s two went yesterday and three more today and there’s two more next week I know of. All except me. I guess my turn will come eh, “love”?

Well, “darl’ is there anything you want or anything about the place you don’t like up there. If there is just let me know and I’ll try and fix things up for you, do my best anyway, “Myrtle”. Well “Myrtle” how is “Bobby” getting on now, “darl”? I hope he’s alright. Well, “darl”, I’ll soon know now whether I can get out on my wrist in another 6 or 8 days or so.

[The top of this page is covered in kisses and a message under the kisses reads: All my love to you “darl’.]

I hope so anyway. Boy, I hope they say out of it altogether. Well, “darling” there doesn’t seem to be much to tell you except that this silly “sergeant’ here is trying to make me work hard and I’m just not going to do what he wants. I mean I am not going to ruin my wrist just for him, hang him. He thinks I am just putting it on and reckons it isn’t really sore at all. Well, I’ll give him something to think about. I’ve just been and saw the medical “sergeant” and he’s going to fix it up for me.

Well, “darl” I hope to see you soon and all my “love” and kisses from your ever loving “Husband”, George. All my love, “darl” and young “Bobby” – give him my love will you, “Myrtle”.

[The rest of this page is filled with kisses.]

Whisper My Secret is available as an ebook here:

Transcription of letter from Alfred Hospital, 1964

17.9.64,A.G.H. Rowley,Ward 23,Alfred Hospital,Prahran Vic

Dear Myrtle,

I got your letter today written on 12/9/64. Well, Myrtle, I don’t know when I will be home. It seems like they are testing me still. I don’t know what they are up to. I suppose I will have to leave it to them. I had a blood transfusion a couple of days ago.

How are you managing, Myrtle? I hope everything is going alright for you. Yes, I miss you a lot too but what can I do? It’s in the doctors’ hands and they don’t tell you much. Tell Peter I hope it’s very soon, because I’m a bit sick of hospital.

What did Joiner and Cross come over for? Just a sticky beak I s’pose.

Now, look Myrtle you want to look after yourself and don’t sit up at night because I’m quite alright. As a matter of fact I feel pretty good but I still sweat at night and I get a temp [temperature] now and again. Now you get your sleep and don’t worry. They will probably get sick of me before long. I hope so anyway. I weigh 10.10 [10 stone 10 lbs/68 kg] That was last Sunday but I think I have put on some now because they are giving vitamin tablets and I am eating pretty well.

I better go now but keep writing, Myrtle. I look forward to your letters. Look after yourself. Love from George. [Row of kisses here]

Notes:

1: ‘Peter’ is my youngest brother who was still a toddler when my father became ill. Peter he fretted for his father when Dad was in hospital.

2: My father has referred to two of the local men by their surnames (‘Joiner’ and ‘Cross’).

Whisper My Secret is available as an ebook here:

More about Whisper My Secret:

Until next time… JB :-)

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Comments on: "My father’s love letters" (26)

  1. bettye maynard said:

    I just finished “Whisper My Secret” and can’t wait for the sequel. I can’t help but wonder what happened to “Henry”and “Lily”and “Shirley”. I am the mother of 6 so can relate to Myrtle’s feelings for her children – I don’t think I would have her courage if any of mine were taken away Thankfully some things have changed over the years so it would not be so easy. And I still have love letters from my husband from the war years – they are priceless. And just to be heartless – I hope Henry and Shirley had some “payback” years.

  2. Thank you for sharing your parent’s story. Mine had a similar love story, and though my mom’s was not nearly as horrific as your mom’s, it was awful as well. They are both gone now, but reading your story reminded me of them, their incredible love, my dad’s heroic belief in her, and the beautiful life they had together, in spite of all the obstacles of hurt, betrayal, devastating loss, abuse, neglect that mom started out with when they met. He loved her so carefully out of the pain she had experienced in her life. And from that, she flourished into the best mom, wife and sweetest woman I’ve ever known. Reading George and Myrtle’s story made me dream through their journey from a totally different perspective and I can’t thank you enough. You’ve given me such a gift. I am really looking forward to the sequel and grateful that you were able to publish your story. xo Jill

    • Wow! What a lovely letter, Jill.

      Thank you for sharing a little of your mum and dad’s love story. How marvellous that George and Myrtle’s story has a parallel with theirs.( Men like our dads are true treasures.)

      The sequel to Whisper My Secret is almost finished and is planned for publication in the next few months. Thanks for your interest.

      All the very best to you and your family.

      JB :-)

  3. Just read “Whisper My Secret”.What a story! So glad you wrote it and such details.I feel as if all these people lived here. And that I knew them.Thanks for you and your story.And thanks to Amazon that I got to read it!

    • Hi Patsy,
      I say thanks to Amazon, too, for providing the opportunity for authors to reach potentially millions of readers.

      My thanks, also, to you of course for taking the time to drop by and for your comments. It means a lot to me. JB :-)

  4. Shirley Black said:

    Wow! I just finished reading “Whisper My Secret,” and I honestly could not put it down during the time I read it. You made your mother and everyone else so real to me that I feel that I know each and every one. You did a masterful job of making the reader feel the pain and joys of Myrtle. My grandmother and mother went through such a similar situation that I found myself empathizing with their trials of having to deal with Agnes Bishop. “Ma Simpson” would not allow her son to marry my grandmother, leaving her to raise my mother with the help of family. After my mother died, I found that she had a half sister whom she never met.

    • Hello Shirley (Shirley’s my middle name actually) I very much appreciate your comments. It is interesting that we have similar family stories. I believe my mother and your grandmother are representative of many women – sadly. Thank you for taking the time to pass on your thoughts. JB :-)

  5. Just finished Whisper My Secret. Sounds like your mom opted not to fight for the children because she loved them. She didn’t want their lives to remain in turmoil. That is true love. The mother in law who had them ripped from her claimed to be so Christian. Seems she did not care the least for the children. There’s actually a bible story where ‘the true mother was determined by her choice to let the baby go to prevent him from being pulled apart when another woman pulled him, claiming the baby was hers’ Wish I could have given the 20 year old Myrtle a big hug. Thank you for sharing her story.

    • Thank you, lg, for reading Whisper My Secret. Doing so is, in a way, a hug for Myrtle. I do appreciate your taking the time to drop in and leave a message. JB :-)

  6. Hello Cristy,

    Great to hear from you. Thank you for your comments.

    Yes, I am also gratified that my three siblings think fondly of our mother. One wonderful thing about publishing the book was that the three children (and their children) were able to gain some insight into the character of Myrtle and what happened to her; knowledge they did not previously have.

    JB :-)

  7. I loved the book. I am a birthmom from the closed adoption era and didn’t have much choice since I was 15 and had to do what my mom told me. I can’t imagine living with the loss of three children and never speaking of them again. I find it very sad that their dad and I say that lightly took them away from their Mom just to let them sit and wait for new parents. I am happy that they grew up well and think fondly of their Mom.

  8. Hi Shorebookworm,

    How lovely of you to take the time to visit. Thank you so much for reading my mother’s story.

    Your comments echo my own thoughts and, like you, I am so pleased that my father came along.

    JB :-)

  9. shorebookworm said:

    Hi! I also just finished your book and was truly moved by your mother’s heartbreaking ordeal. I don’t know how anyone could possibly judge her harshly!! She was absolutely a victim and your grandmother was too right. She didn’t stand a chance against those forces that had conspired to ruin her. The fight would have destroyed her, which would have served no good to anyone.

    Instead, despite her grievous losses, she moved on and led the best life she could. I am thrilled that she found someone as kind and loving as your father. What wonderful people they seem to have been!

  10. Hello Andi, Your comments about Whisper My Secret have touched me deeply. Thank you so much for taking the time to visit me here and leave a comment. JB :-)

  11. I meant to say ‘Whisper My Secret’, LOL

  12. Just finished your book ‘Wisper My Secret’. Very good read. You are such a good writer I feel that I know your Mom.

  13. Hi Randy,

    Thanks for your comments. You are right; I am sharing a part of me. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. JB :-)

  14. Randy said:

    Such a lovely story. Very moving, brought me to tears a few times. Always nice to read “true” stories of love. Thanks for sharing a part of you.

  15. Brenda said:

    Lovely JB! Such a wonderful thing to have, and the love of your Dad for your Mum is so evident! Thanks for sharing:)

  16. Thanks for sharing your story about the letters relating to your father. I am always touched by the way soldiers took care of each others’ families, tried to keep them informed and sent back what they could. JB :-)

  17. That’s great, JB. So wonderful that you have those letters and they’re now in the books.

    We have letters sent to my father’s next of kin. They were from his British Army officers when he went missing at war. He had been captured as a prisoner by the enemy during the Battle at Arnham when he was a glider pilot. However, he escaped and was helped by the Americans.

    It’s great to have letters from out parent’s lives. The books look great, JB

  18. Thanks, David. Apart from giving an insight into their relationship, handwritten letters like the ones we have give us a connection across the generations. We probably should find some way to preserve them for future generations. I am still thinking about that. JB :-)

  19. Wow i loved this! I found something very similiar myself. My father is dead now but he used to write ‘love letters’ to my mother when they first started going out. They only met for one day at first then he had to go back to England, but they stayed in contact. And eventually they met again and well … the rest is history.

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