After Elissa Kravetz’s grandfather Bill passed away in 2008, she made sure to hold on to a box containing 65 letters he had written to his wife, Martha.
“I put them in order and thought that it wasn’t time for me to read them,” says Kravetz, who only read three of them at first. “I put them in my pajama drawer for three years.”
Then, in April of 2017, she suddenly felt compelled to read them all.
“Every morning I would have a coffee and I would sit down and I would read a letter,” she recalls to PEOPLE. “I felt like in a way that they were almost written to me. I also felt like I was getting to know my grandfather who had passed away.”
Bill and Martha Sontag’s relationship began in 1945 when Bill, who was stationed in Panama during World War II, met during a weekend he was home in Boston. He then began to write Martha letters, which is how they began to “fall in love,” says Kravetz. He even proposed to her in one. They were married for 53 years.
In Kravetz’s favorite letter, Bill writes that he wants to get her a present but doesn’t know what to buy.
“He said something to the effect of: Should it be silk stockings, a lipstick or a set of angel wings so she can fly herself to him?” says Kravetz, 40, of Topanga, California. “It’s poetry.”
In one letter Kravetz posted to her Instagram account, Bill writes that he’s never been jealous until now.
“Never having been jealous before in my life, a decided steak has been noticeable ever since the Right girl came along,” he says. “In fact, you seem to be even more than the right girl if such is possible. Furthermore, we will both learn just how nervous I can be when we stand before the man who says those very important words.”
Kravetz decided to send the letters to her grandmother, who is now 93 years old.
“I started to photocopy them one by one and mail them to her,” she says. “She hasn’t read them since she was 21 years old. She feels like she’s falling in love with him all over again and I feel like he’s orchestrating this whole thing.”
She began to post some of them on Instagram, and friends from all the world started commenting on them. All of the letters are handwritten except for one.
“I really hope that you can read this,” Bill wrote to her in the one that was typed. “I’m using a new machine and they’re calling it a typewriter.”
In another letter, he reminds Martha how much he misses her.
“It’s this beautiful love story. It’s so romantic,” says Kravetz.
For Martha, nothing makes her happier than receiving one of those letters in the mail from her granddaughter.
“It brings back a lot of memories,” says Martha, who adds that every letter makes her feel young again. “It takes me back to the old days. He mentions things that I’ve done that I’ve long forgotten.”
She adds: “There are just so many things that I have completely forgotten, and he refers to my letters, and it brings it all back to me. I just love it.”
While she doesn’t have a favorite letter, each one makes her think back to the man she cared deeply about for so many years.
“He made me laugh, he made me cry, I loved him so very much,” she says.