“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goeth
Love letters. Letter writing in general.
There was a segment on CBS Sunday Morning today about the play LOVE LETTERS now being performed by Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neal, of “Love Story” fame. The segment also interviewed a man who was married to his wife for nearly 42 years before she died and the letters he found tucked away in their closet afterwards. Letters they had written to each other when he was in the service during World War II. It made me think of my in-laws. When my father-in-law died, my husband and his eleven siblings found a stack of letters that he and my mother-in-law had written to each other (she had died several years prior). And as unbelievable as it sounds, a few siblings decided that the letters were “too private” to keep or read and suggested that they be thrown away, destroyed. Even more unbelievable was that all the other siblings apparently agreed — or didn’t come forth and object. As a writer, as a child who grew up without her parents either from divorce or death, I was stunned. Every part of me wanted to jump up and say, “NO! This, THIS, is their ultimate love letter to all of you! Why do you think they KEPT them?! They wanted you all to read and witness their young love. Innocent love. How it WAS — before YOU all came into their lives.” I should have. I should have argued for the keeping. For the holding on to. For the history they would be missing. For the parents they thought they knew so well – but not really.
Years before their deaths, I spent a summer composing my own love letter to my husband in video form. Every Wednesday for six weeks I drove to his parents’ home and interviewed them about their lives. It was only meant to be for my husband. However, after my in-laws had passed, it became a love letter to his siblings as well. If I had known back then that they had kept their original letters to each other, I would have filmed a separate “in addition to” segment with them reading those letters to each other. I would have wanted to capture that. I would have wanted to hold onto that history — his story, her story.
One Wednesday as we took a break and sat down for lunch, my mother-in-law said to me, “I’m glad that you are doing this. I don’t know why my children have never thought to do this.” My response was, “They haven’t lost you yet.” My father died when I was 14 years-old. Trust me. As time passes, without photographs, their image begins to blur. But it’s the voice — how he or she sounded when they spoke — that fades the soonest. I would give anything to hear my father’s voice. And that, THAT is what I wanted to capture for my husband. How they spoke; in general and to each other. Those letters. If his siblings really got rid of them (I must hold out hope that one of the eleven selfishly held onto them anyway…no matter how slight that hope might be) — if they are truly gone — it will forever haunt me that I didn’t go totally outlaw and ride off with them into the sunset.
I should write more love letters to Ernie.
How the wintering sun casts shadows across the table as morning wakes up the house.
The stack of clean dishes from Super Bowl Sunday on the counter. A mix of big and small glass bowls scooped up off the shelves of the local Goodwill. It has come to mind on more than one occasion that now, with four sons-in-law and twelve grandchildren, especially grandsons who are (shockingly and way-too-soon) in high school, that we need more chip, dip, and salsa bowls for every celebrated event — or just for any day we are lucky enough to have all the grandchildren together in one shared space.
Space. That is what I now need to find for the gathering of bowls.
The silence. Winter quiet. Even the birds know that winter is a time for pulling in and hunkering down, especially on a Sunday.
Receiving ashes last Wednesday. How it is such a sweet and faith-filled tradition of the church. How so many miss out on the beauty of it because it is not considered a Holy Day of Obligation.
Lent, as an older adult. Where giving up something is far less important than giving more, especially of time, to family — to friends — to coworkers — to others in general — to Him.
“There is no motivation for works of love without a sense of gratitude, no sense of gratitude without forgiveness, no forgiveness without contrition, no contrition without a sense of guilt, no sense of guilt without a sense of sin.” ~ Edna Hong
Recently I was given a gift from Him via my hairdresser. My hairdresser was recommended to me years ago by one of my sisters-in-law. This particular sister-in-law long ago stopped going to her, but apparently some of the women she has worked with have continued to see the same hairdresser as well. The gift: confirmation that I’ve not been totally off-base with my views regarding much of her behavior and intentions. That, indeed, she has treated others much the same as she has treated me over the last several decades, although much of the family hasn’t, or refuses, to notice. But with the gift also came temptation. The temptation to talk to my husband and others regarding the confirmation of my thoughts and feelings towards her.
This year has not started out financially kind to us and, coupled with this temptation, I am reminded during this onset of Lent to recognized and address the one who would have me dredge up old wounds to, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (Matthew 16:23)
And truly, I’m better than that.
I haven’t been writing much on this blog lately. Many ideas have been floating about, including one to totally revamp my blog this summer. This particular blog has been a work-in-progress and has helped me to narrow down some specifics about me and what I want to share. There is much work to do this year and more sharing will, indeed, come of it.
Spending more time writing my poetry and on my various works. I can’t publish until there is something TO publish.
Letters. I’ve slacked a bit in this area. This is not acceptable, since letter writing is a HUGE part of who I am.
Death. Not writing about it, but sending cards of condolence to far too many who have lost loved ones since the beginning of this year.
A thought: when I die, how sweet it would be if all of my family, my friends, and acquaintances would write a letter, or a note, to me. Place it in my casket as you pass (or send it to my family to do so) — so that I can cherish you and your words forever in the great hereafter.
Everything and, yet, nothing in particular.
My Birthday. The best thing about growing older is that I get to celebrate my 60th birthday when I want to, like in July instead of March. A weekend, at least, to do fun things with family and friends. Something for everyone, not just for the old lady in the room.We are in an El Nino year and March is notorious for rain. Rain we greatly need here in Southern California, but that one doesn’t necessarily want to have on a weekend planned for fun and good times. July is the better choice for whooping a March birthday up. I’m totally into being aware of the Ides of March this year and how it can kill birthday plans.
As for gifts — books. I should like to receive good, old-fashion, hold ’em and smell ’em, books. Copies of favorites, or hunted and found, old, blow the dust off, books.
Retirement. Oh, not for a few years yet, but I’ve taken the first step of inquiring with our Human Resources department on what, exactly, it might look like when I finally do.
Hoping. Hoping that the financial snafus that have lingered since the beginning of this year are settled in a positive way, in our favor, so the future is full of warm fuzzies and just the fun stuff, even on cold days.
Looking forward to::
Downton Abbey and The Walking Dead.
The Week Ahead::
The “younguns” at work have decided to have a friendly competition in the area of getting healthier. The buy-in (which I call it) is getting a Fitbit and then syncing it up to each other’s so you can compete against them by steps and measures. So I did — purchase one that is. However, I’m going to let the ladies aid me in the syncing part. It will, most likely, be the only help I will receive once this (friendly) competition is in full swing. This old(er) woman will receive no mercy, I’m sure.
Dinner and a Movie with a good friend and neighbor. I’m for “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”, but she’s more the “Zoolander” type. I see “Zoolander” in my immediate future.
And speaking of movies –> the AMC Oscars Showcase starts NEXT Saturday! A full two Saturdays of watching the Oscar best film nominees. Next Saturday will be: BRIDGE OF SPIES, ROOM, MAD MAX, and THE BIG SHORT. The following Saturday will be: BROOKLYN, SPOTLIGHT, THE MARTIAN, and THE REVENANT. Two Saturday of movies with family and friends. ALL day! And then — THE OSCARS! Can’t wait.
I do wish that AMC would also hosts the same kind of event for viewing nominated Documentaries, Short Films, and Foreign Films. Can you imagine?
Here’s to enjoying winter and looking forward to good things to come.
Blessings, dear reader.