A while ago I woke up thinking about the letters that my Mom had sent to me when I was living in Toronto in 1979. I was pretty sure that I had kept them but I hadn’t read them since Mom died in 1997 and I was worried that they might have gotten lost. And so last week I cleaned the attic.
Cleaning the attic turned out to be a three day event for me, not because it was that awful but because one thing led to another and in the process of going through boxes I revisited my past…report cards, school pictures, birthday cards and artwork that I had kept over the years (and still cherish) and then the plastic folder containing the letters from Mom. Just like Chevy Chase in the movie “Christmas Vacation” I sat in the attic reeling from one emotion to another…the kids Journals from their early school years, the pictures that they made me for Father’s Day, seeing once more how their early life experiences influenced the young adults that I am proud of today. And finally, Mom’s letters. It only took the first couple of sentences to bring me back…”Brrrr…the furnace came on about 6 a.m. this morning. I am sitting with my back to the wood stove that burned all night and kept us warm”…I could almost see her. I imagined the sweat shirt that she might have been wearing or if it still was 6 a.m. when she was writing the letter, I remembered the housecoat that she wore. I remembered things about that room, our house, the fields, the taste of milk when the cows got out to pasture in the spring and the sound of rain hitting the tin roof of the implement shed.
Thinking back on the days of my youth, I see a simpler life; a good life. Walking barefoot for the first time in the soft warm dirt when the corn was being planted, riding my bike down a country road, laying on the bridge and watching the minnows in the ditch. I don’t know if I ever really told my parents how much I appreciated everything they did for me; I think Mom knew…I could feel her love as I read her letters. And so if you’re reading this letter Dad, thanks for all of the sacrifices that you made for all of us. The memories are wonderful. Happy Birthday and Happy Father’s Day!