The Letter...Olivia's Secret

The Boarding House Journal
Date:  November 1912

The envelope was addressed to Mrs. John Buckner in a lovely cursive handwriting with the address having been marked through and forwarded with the last address being that of my boarding house.     My curiosity was peaked to say the least, as I had the impression that Olivia's health condition, and her seeking treatment was somewhat of a secret.

Of course, I would not presume to know the going ons of our Guests private lives.  However, with Olivia, I was privy to her problems from almost the moment she and the Marshall arrived.  Within a few hours of their renting room Number Six, it was evident that the Buckners would be more than folks simply seeking a room for a few nights.

My mother had a sense of 'Knowing Beforehand' when something or someone was to have an impact on anothers life.  That sense was heavy within my heart as soon as Olivia said,  "Please if you could spare a dying woman a bit of your time, I assure you my story will not weigh heavy on your mind as it is only relevant to the unburdening of my soul."

Since that first day, a good many things have happened that changed the course of Olivia's plea and plight.  Those incidents and events are recorded in the previous entries to this Journal, therefore, I refer the reader to those entries and will get on with the delivery of Olivia's letter, and the revelations that follow it's reading.  A reading that changed one family's knowledge of who they were forevermore.

Olivia's Secret ...The Charming Confederate
Come in, Emma.  Thank-you for bringing the tea.  I'm afraid, I may need more than one or two cups after reading the letter you brought earlier this morning.  If I had received this letter a few weeks ago, I would not have been able to take the shock of it's content.  I'm stronger now, thanks to the Doctors treatment, my loving husband and the care I have received from you.  I am ever so grateful.  Thank-you.

I once asked you for a bit of your time, and if you have time now, I would like to share this letter and the memories it evokes that have been buried deep within my heart and soul for many years.

This letter and photograph is from Mary.  She found the photograph in her father's Bible.  It was taken on our wedding day.  Yes, it is the charming confederate solider I married to give Mary a father and myself a home and family.  He was the son of the woman who took me in after my home and family were destroyed by the Yankees.

We were married in March of 1870.  I was sixteen, and he had returned home from the War a few months before with wounds and scars to both body and mind.  I remembered him as a handsome and charming boy of sixteen when he left his mother and me to enlist in the Confederacy.  His father had gone the year before with my own father and died at Shiloh.  I remember his mother's anguish at his leaving and her jubilation when he returned.  We were both joyful and thankful for his return. 

When he left I was but ten years old, he therefore, remembered me as a child, but when he returned, he found the child had become a woman.  In those days of war and desolation, a girls childhood was over much to soon.  Franklin had suffered a crippling leg wound and the ravages of war had left him with unspeakable wounds of the heart and soul.  We both needed healing and someone who cared.  Our needs and what we took for love lead to our marriage and our first child, Mary.

Oh, Emma, I have such mixed emotions about how this letter will affect a decision I must make before I die.  I'll read Mary's words to you for better understanding.

July 12, 1912
Dear Aunt Olivia,
    It is with a sad heart that I inform you of the death of my Father, your beloved brother.   He passed peacefully in his sleep on the night of June 29th.  Since it has been many years since Father spoke of you, I am in hopes that this letter and it's contents will reach you through your last known address which I found in his Bible. 
   I must admit to some confusion concerning the photograph.  It, too was in his Bible along with the enclosed card and your address.  On discovering the photograph, my first thoughts were how lovely it was to have this photo of Father and his Sister.  However, the inscription on the back along with the card and the placement in Proverbs 31 which sites the passages of a virtuous woman, gives rise to questions of which I hesitate to put in writing.
   It is with great hope that you will receive this letter and will reply as soon as possible.  There is one other matter of importance that requires your attention.  Father's Last Will and Testament.  I am not at liberty to state its content to you in this letter, as it was his wish for you to be present to receive his decree.

With kind regards,

Olivia carefully folded the letter and slipped it back into the envelope.  She handed me the photograph and the card.  Both showed signs of having been handled many times.  I turned the photograph over and found the words I expected to see.
Franklin and Olivia ~ March 26, 1870 ~ Wedding Day

I looked up at Olivia to see one hand holding her handkerchief to her eyes and the other placed over her heart.  With great trepidation, I turned the card over and read...
~Olivia Mother of My Children~

...to be continued...
Authored by Sandra Sue Pittman
Photos by Author
Photos are not Representative of People or Places in this Story.
Used strictly for interest and support of story.
Photos are Authentic Representations of the Period.
This Account/Writing/Photos is an Exclusive Publication
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