March 15, 1946
Ding how, my little lotus bud,
(Eng. Translation: hiya, toots)
I’m freezing to death so I thought I’d sit down and write you a few–just thinking about you warms me up.
(from As Always, Jack, page 51)
Emma Sweeney’s father, Jack, was a Navy pilot whose plane went down north of Bermuda in November 1956. Sweeney’s mother was pregnant with her at the time, so she never knew him. Her mother had remarried, and she was told to call her stepfather “Dad.” When her mother died, she came across the letters depicting her parents’ courtship, and for the first time, she came to know her father.
As Always, Jack features the numerous letters her father wrote to her mother when he was stationed in the Pacific in 1946 as part of an effort to stabilize the region following World War II. They met in December 1945 and knew each other for just 11 days when he was shipped out, but for Jack, that was long enough to know he was in love with the woman who would soon become his wife and then the mother of his five children. It’s not surprising that her mother fell in love with him as well, as the Jack who graces these pages is sweet, charming, and goofy.
I finished this book in just a couple of hours. It’s a beautiful story of two people in love who have their whole lives ahead of them, yet it’s hard not to be saddened by the thought that the lively young man who wrote these heartfelt letters would live for just another 10 years and that his daughter — who looks so much like him, based on the photos in the book — would never meet him. Reading in Sweeney’s words how her mother didn’t talk much about him was so heartbreaking; she must have been dying for any scrap of information about her father, and at the same time, her mother must’ve been lost without him. But what a gift to have found those letters!
As Always, Jack is one of those books that pulls at your heart, even more so knowing that it’s a true story. It made me so glad that when cleaning out my grandmother’s apartment after her death in November, I found a paper bag full of my dad’s letters to my grandparents when he was in the Air Force during the Vietnam War. Granted, I had 22 wonderful years with my father before he died, but to think I might get to know him as a young man through these letters…I can’t even put it into words. I’ve ordered the letters, but I haven’t been able to read them yet. Even though he’s been gone for almost 13 years, just seeing his handwriting gets me all choked up, and I’m just not ready to read through them yet. I can’t imagine what Sweeney must have been feeling as she met her father for the first time through these letters, but I’m delighted that she was able to have such an experience, and I appreciate that she is willing to share her father with all of us.
Giveaway: Courtesy of the publisher, Axios Press, I have one copy of As Always, Jack to give to a lucky reader. This giveaway is open to readers 18 years and older with U.S. addresses and will end at 11:59 pm EST on Sunday, July 29, 2012.
**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**
© 2012 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.