Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Love Letters From the War: Our Parents Teach Us What Is Really Important

Left to right: Me, Dad, my brother John, Mom

We found the letters in a shoe box, where all old letters should be found. They were on a shelf way under a cabinet in the living room, behind a lot of other stuff. Lucky for us. I'm pretty sure Dad would have burned them had he found them first.

They are love letters, every one of them, pure and simple. They range from passionate to playful, gentle to newsy, anguishing to soothing. They tell the story of an entire generation. Soon after their marriage in 1943, Dad had left for war, serving in the Navy on a destroyer in the North Atlantic. He left behind a young wife pregnant with their first child.

In one letter, my father writes, "I want to love you passionately for the rest of my life." He was true to his intentions. Each was the other's first and only love. Here they are in the picture above, taken last week at the nursing home in Massachusetts where they now live--still together. Dad will be 90 in July, Mom 88 in April. It's seldom easy to put your parents into a nursing home even if its absolutely necessary. The only way they went willingly was with the promise that they could still share the same bed. We got permission from the nursing home administrators to drop the side rails and push their beds together. They spend their days together, holding hands and reading, watching TV, and looking out over the New England countryside. They spend their nights lying side by side as they have for the past sixty-six years.


  1. When cleaning out my parents' home after my mom died, I found the letters they'd written to each other during the war (Dad was in European Theater). One of the grandest things she could have left to me! Theirs was a great love story also. That generation intuitively knew how to "live it right"!

  2. My parents taught me how to love. I saw it every day as I was growing up and it was their greatest gift to me. Though I'm sure they had their disagreements, I don't remember ever hearing them argue. There was certainly no screaming, no open battles. What we did see was a lot of was physical affection--hand holding and kissing and laughter. There was a lot laughter in our house. They loved each other through thick and thin, poverty and relative wealth. Hard work and sacrifice for family was the hallmark of their marriage. When they were in their 30's, they ignored the dire warnings of suburbia-entrenched in-laws and we moved from New Jersey to a farm in rural Massachusetts. We all became farmers. And then, when they were in their 50's and had finished raising one family, they joined the Peace Corps and spent nearly two years in Nicaragua. When they came home, they brought an impoverished Nicaraguan family with them and raised them, too. Hard to imagine, right? Where do people like that come from? They were not religious--just the opposite, in fact. They were not self-rightious or prideful, judgmental, prissy or holier-than-thou. They did it because it was the right thing to do, and, I think, because they saw life as an adventure to be enjoyed.