Back in the early 1900s, when my grandmother Emily was born, it was unacceptable for a young woman to go anywhere alone. Being the last child left at home made socializing even more difficult. By the time she was of courting age, her parents didn’t feel up to going out very often.
Emily’s oldest sister lived four miles away, and her husband hired a young man to work for him. I’m not sure how Emily and this young man met, but they promptly fell in love.
His name was Charles Rinkle, and he was tall, dark, and handsome. He worked through the week and could see Emily only on Sundays.
There was no telephone or rural mail delivery at that time, and the nearest town was several miles away. But, as the old saying goes, love will find a way, and Charles and Emily found a unique way to communicate.
Finding two rocks with hollows at the center, they hid both of them halfway between Emily’s home and her sister’s. When they wrote letters, they placed them in the hollow of one stone and turned the other over it. There they would be safe from animals and rain.
Emily would go during the day, deposit her letter and pick up his. Charles had to go after work, but what is a two-mile walk to a man in love? Emily and Charles soon married, and when they built their first house they placed their rock “post office” in the foundation.
In addition to being kind and handsome, Charles had a beautiful voice. All through the years, he led the song service at church and occasionally gave singing lessons.
At home, he was always singing. In the evening he would relax on the front porch and sing as long as it was light enough for him to see the notes. He would even sing when he was out walking.
During what turned out to be Emily’s last illness, Charles realized she didn’t have much more time. He took her hand, bending over her, and started singing a love song.
Emily gazed back into his eyes with an expression that seemed to tell him that she remembered the days when they were young and first in love. It was the last real singing that Charles ever did. After Emily’s death, Charles lost his voice. He would try, but there was something missing.
That love song to my grandmother was the last song he ever sang.