vIVA MERCEDES! VIVA PIERRE!
In 1971, while he was touring Europe on leave from his job as a cook at a catering company in Gillam, Manitoba, Pierre Michel Trudeau met Mercedes Roman at a dance in Madrid. After the dance, she gave him her home address in Bilbao, and a month later he came to see her. They spent fifty-three days getting to know one another (“no monkey besseness”) and falling in love. Before Pierre returned to Canada, he promised they would be married in a year. With the determination of her Basque ancestors, Mercedes began to undo her life in Spain
– telling her family she was going to marry and move to Canada, deciding what possessions she would give away or take with her, and, finally, quitting her interesting and secure job. During a 440-day separation, the pair continued their courtship in probing letters, written in English because neither could speak the other’s native language well. They asked questions (“Can you drive?” “What song you like more?”), discussed philosophy and morality, and arranged the practicalities of their wedding.
Gillam May 14 — 1972
Amor mio Mercedes.
I hope you are very well, I receive you letter of May 1 . . .
Mercedes don’t be fear (miedo). I love you profondo, whit admiration, I think about you every day, I just think the day we be together for always.
I sufriendo [suffer] also, here not very, very interressing specialy for the moral[e], you know Mercedes I live here in Gillam just for you that very true, if I never see you or never rencontror you angel mio I think I live for september to try find a job any where, specialy in the big boat (barco) go every where in mondo.
But I am responsable of our love, I live just for that to be with you, amor, and it is necessary make sacrifice for me and also for you. I know it is difficult.
Mercedes, I want married you, I love you profondo. I never love before. I think not to many angel like Mercedes in the mondo, I know. But, you pensor serious the difficulty, the sacrifice for you here in America, specialy in Canada that not a dream, that reality … I want you whit me to be happy not be sadness, the married that for always . . .
If I have $5000 today, I going to married you tomorrow. You understand not just a question of time (day), question also of money security … I tell you the situation here, now, all goes well … I can put in banco, 25,000 peseta by month. That very good money… Confianza in Pierre . . .
That all for now. Hasta pronto angel mio. I love you profondo whit all my alma [soul], my hearth, my mind.
June 25, 1972
Querido [beloved] and amado Pierre:
Hello, amor mio, how are you? Today I have received your letter 16 June and pretty card and Kettle Project Manitoba Hydro and photo of parkas . . .
Pierre, amor mio, I’m very very happy because I have given to you sorpresa [surprise] with my big photo, but now I have sorpresa because you tell me I’m pretty and beautiful. You never tell me that before.
Always everywhere the people tell me I’m very pretty less you
. I was a little timid with you because you don’t see pretty at Mercedes.
Amor mio, why do you give so much (tanta) importance into physical? I think is more import the quality and to be virtuous.
You tell me I have great personality. Is true. Everywhere the people tell me too. I think perhaps I have excess the personality…
Pierre, vida mia, I want what your moral[e] to be good. If some time you are triste (sad) or your moral is low (baja), you look at me in the photo and you think what my eyes it’s to emit (dar) ray of amor at Pierre.
¡OH! Pierre, I have sorpresa
, sorpresa disagreeable. I don’t understand, No Pierre, amor mio. Mercedes don’t understand. You tell me: You don’t like destroy all photo of collection, you don’t like to do that – big sorpressa Pierre. Mercedes is very sad.
I thought what all those photo it was the more, all it was a hindrance for you since what: “You in love with me.” If it’s true and if I’m the queen of your hearth, what pain (pena) can you to have? I think all it does to render turbid our felicity. Now I think with big bitterness you don’t love at Mercedes. If you love at Mercedes you had what destroy without pain (pena) all photo and all souvenir of womans frivolous, and you don’t maintain correspondence with none woman. If you don’t like destroy, por favor Pierre, you keep all photo and souvenir. What does it matter Mercedes suffer and Mercedes die pain. ¡What does it matter! . . .
Pierre angel mio, I love you. I’m in love with you.
Gillam 21 July 72
Amor mio Mercedes.
… I am anxious to see and speak whit your confessor, but my conscience is tranquil, why she will be no tranquil. That is question of philosophia. (Who is not with god is in again him.) Mercedes, I think it is a mistake to speak or think like that. We have to respect idiologia, philosophia, conception different of ours, because all that is question of conscience, and alma, that is universal.
Example: the Chinese or Indian have same alma, conscience universel but different conception, philosophia, ect. more important, and no body can cheat himself, because the conscience is universel . . .
I hope you listen me about the suggestion of you healht. Take care of you.
Hasta pronto, amor mio,
Bilbao — España
July 30, 1972
My dear Pierre:
. . . ¡OH! Pierre, I’m happy if you have conscience tranquil but many people to mistake for (or to confuse) conscience sleep (dormida) by conscience tranquil. It’s two thing different. I think the philosophia is only for to can to live in this life but with god no is valid the philosophia. The philosophia with God it is deceive yourself. The philosophia with God you mean is to be too indulgent or to be unscrupulous. It seem to me you be wrong . . .
Pierre, vida mia, my sky, my treasure, I love you every day more . . . I dream of you from day to day. Alway, all the minute I’m with you. Pierre amor mio, I love you. I’m in love with you. I miss feel to you very much . . .
Gillam 21 Sept 72
Amor mio Mercedes
. . . OH! yes I remember when you said the happiness of the marriage depend grand part of the woman. I believe is true. I have totaly confianza in you. I know we can build a new beautiful life together for always because we want the best for all and each other. Also you have good nature and facility to adopt any circonstances that important. The true love is there for give power for help us to face all circonstances.
Amor mio, . . . When you make a mistake in the life, not good solution to run after. We have take responsability face and accept and repair the mistake by the best solution possible . . . I don’t regret I tell you all the true of my life, I have my conscience tranquille, that the best way to be happy in the life, be conscience tranquille . . .
Mercedes your eyes drive me crazy (loco). When I look you on the foto I concentration my mind inside your eyes all my body is electrify . . . Mercedes, Pierre think when the first night we be together for honeymoon I be realy crazy (loco) (loco). The happiness. You can’t imagine how I need your affection, sex of you. I make the sacrifice to wait for you, not easy believe me . . . All this sacrifice for love. I wait for you that be fantastic. You can’t imagine.
Malaga — España
February 25, 1973
My dear Pierre:
…Well Pierre we shall go to Guernica, we shall have a day to go at this important place town. We shall be fiance officially with our ring in this place, typical Basque. O.K. OH! yes Pierre that will be duro no sex before the marriage. But we can wait fews more days. We shall sleep in two rooms different and far be it from each other. Pierre, amor mio, I’m very pround of you, 15 months no sexual relation, I beleive you… We shall have a naturel and satisfaction sexual life, with very profundo love. Our sexual life will be fantastic; …
Pierre say me, are you happy with Mercedes? Do you love me as much as I love you? I’m in love with you like you can’t imagine . . .
VIVA PIERRE MICHEL TRUDEAU! VIVA MARIA MERCEDES ROMAN! VIVA CANADA! VIVA! VIVA ESPAÑA! VIVA! VIVA OUR LOVE FOR ALWAYS! VIVA! VIVA! VIVA OUR LOVE TWO IN ONE! VIVA! VIVA! VIVA PIERRE MICHEL MY HUSBAND FUTURE! VIVA! VIVA! VIVA! AMOR MIO, I LOVE YOU VERY PROFUNDO. I NEED YOU, YES PIERRE, I NEED YOU FOR ALWAYS.
Gillam 21 March 1973
Amor mio Mercedes.
. . . That correct for the date 3 May (Thudsday) for be married. That be important date for us . . . Well Mercedes very soon we be together for always 24 April 1973 (Madrid). Imagine only 34 days we the winner. These days will be long, I am very anxious to be with you . . . that be fantastic, since 1 week I don’t work very well. I am always in the luna [moon]. I just thinks about you all the time. I am no more concentration on my work… I am in profondo meditation. I am in love more at never. I dream I see you and me all the time, all different place. Yes, amor mio, I am in love with you, I need you, I want your affection, your love, your sex.
Pierre also have electricity cross all my body, when I look you in your eyes on the photo. You are a angel, I am so pround of you. Some time I wonder if is a dream or reality. I know it is the reality, a fantastic true love … God give me realy a perle. Pierre want give you more happiness is possibles … I love you profondo for always, my only love of my life…
Viva Mercedes Roman my only love of my life. Viva España Viva Canada Viva our love. Two in One.Mercedes and Pierre married, as so carefully planned, on May 3, 1973. After a “memorable” honeymoon, they flew to Canada to take up residence in the Vanier, Ontario, apartment where they live today. They have worked together for twenty-one years and have never missed a day: he is the supervising chef in a nursing home where she is in charge of cold-food purchasing and preparation and arranging special meals and diets. Childless, they enjoying travelling and continue to discuss all manner of topics profondo.From the Hardcover edition.
Excerpted from The Book Of Love Letters by Paul Grescoe and Audrey Grescoe. Copyright © 2005 by Paul Grescoe and Audrey Grescoe. Excerpted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.