Dad always addressed his cards for Mom to Cheekie (or Cheekee — spelling was malleable). She signed hers to him the same. I never asked where that endearment originated. Perhaps there was a story to it, or perhaps it just “happened,” becoming part of their lives without their awareness of an origin point.
No one else ever used that nickname for her. I love how it speaks of a time before me, of their courtship, marriage and life as a couple.
Although married nearly 63 years, they almost weren’t a couple. My parents met on the east coast, but Dad had a bad case of California fever and wanted to relocate to the Los Angeles area. Mom didn’t want to leave behind her family in Baltimore. He courted her long distance by letter, even proposing by mail, and eventually she accepted.
I don’t know when Mom started to sign her name, “Cheekie.” I have a pile of her love letters to my dad, but I haven’t been able to bring myself to read them. It still feels too intrusive. However, I did find this wonderful card that she made him in the early 1950s, years before I was born, and the nickname is already in place.
Did Dad ever call her Cheekie out loud? Probably. Perhaps. I don’t know. It’s sometimes hard to imagine parents having lives as people apart from being…well…parents.
Over the decades I saw dozens of birthday cards, Christmas presents and anniversary gifts addressed to Cheekee, and I always knew who they were for and who they were from.