Just now I went digging in the furnace room, looking for a rosary of all things. I found one – actually I found three – but what I really found were these! My god! 65-year-old love letters written by my father to my mother. How is it these have been sitting in my basement for 5 years?! And how did I end up the keeper of these treasures? Surely one of my more organized and together siblings should hold the responsibility. Let me tell you, I’m so glad they’re mine. Even just for now.
For quite a while I have been thinking about letter writing. Old school letters. Formal. Flowing from the heart. For another. Ink and paper. That seems to fit me. Something I could want to write. Perhaps I could find my penmenship again. It used to be something talked about. Like so much of who I think I am… these used-to-bes.
Could this not be a beautiful way to compile a body of work? What if I were to write a letter a week for the next ten years. That seems very doable. Very reasonable. Would 500+ letters not be a tremendous collecton? A gift? An accomplishment? Surely I would grow as a writer. Surely I would grow in relationship. This seems like such a lost art. A lost ritual. A lost discipline. I struggle to begin in my clumsiness.
But then these. You have to understand. My father never went beyond eighth grade. He wrote very seldom and seemed self-conscious when he did. “My Darling Wilma, A hole six days…” he writes. The ‘whole’ doesn’t matter. At all. Write anyway, it says to me.
To find these now, in this space between his birthday on February 16 and the anniversary of his death in a of couple days… [sigh]… I remember waiting for him to die. The cancer. I remember that night when I wrote in tears “What do you give your dying father for his 71 birthday?” So much I remember. So much I forget. So much feels lost.
I haven’t read them. Not yet. I got to the end of the first paragraph and was stopped in my tracks. I want to stay here a while. Linger. “I’m sure this is going to be the longest week yet. So please write often, and keep telling me you love me.” Please keep telling me…
Tonight, I was to write for Lent. A commitment to you I was soon to regret. So I went in search of a rosary. A rosary felt Lenten and that’s what we’re doing. But I found these and with them a different path. May the journey begin. Perhaps they are one in the same. If not, please forgive me. Onward.