CALGARY – A Cochrane woman has recently unearthed a romantic secret from the Second World War; one that started in New Brunswick and ended in Alberta.
Norah Husband recently discovered love letters addressed to her late mother, Florence Stevens, from a man killed in the war.
Florence passed away in the late 1970s.
The poetic letters are part of a mystery the woman has been piecing together for years.
A locked, antique cedar chest contained many precious things in Norah’s childhood home.
As a child, she was intrigued by the photo of the mystery man…his identity kept a secret by her mother.
“I wish I could ask her many things,” Norah said.
When Norah was an adult, her mother revealed the secret. The man in the photo was Florence’s first husband, Robert Bond.
He was a British officer in the Merchant Marines, who her mother met at the start of the Second World War in New Brunswick.
The couple were married less than a year, when Florence received the telegraph that Robert had been killed at sea.
“I think it was so precious to her and also so sad and difficult for her,” Norah said. “I don’t think she wanted to talk about it because it would bring forward how emotionally connected she probably still was her entire life to her first husband.”
Both Norah’s father and mother have since passed away. But recently, another secret was discovered in the old wooden chest.
Love letters sent to Florence from her first husband.
“These are love letters that are irreplaceable. I have never read anything like them,” Norah said.
Some of the letters read:
“To you my darling angel darling all my love. Be a good girl, I will be back with you very soon. Yours most lovingly, Bob.”
The words on the pages flow with longing and tenderness, and vivid descriptions of life at sea during the war.
Another letter read:
“I thought you were wondering what I was doing on Saturday night. Darling, I shall never do anything I could not tell you. So never worry about me darling. You have been loved by a man who really knows how to love tenderly and truly and to his dying day.”
Finding the letters has been a mixed blessing for Norah. Sadness in sharing her mother’s loss but gratitude in knowing how much Florence was loved.
“I feel connected because he was someone who loved my mother,” she said. “I’m sure she loved back in the same way and I felt loved in that way as well. A deep, tender love.”
Norah hopes that sharing her mother’s letters will inspire others to put pen to paper to express their feelings about someone they love.
“I want my mother’s legacy and Robert Bond’s legacy to be the fact that there is true devoted love in the world. It is possible,” Norah said.
“I do hope somebody who hears this or sees this, would write a letter that they hadn’t thought to write and that would be a letter of love and would make a difference in somebody else’s life,” she said.
The mystery isn’t over yet for Norah. She and her husband plan to track down Robert Bond’s family and find out more details about his life.