Posted by on Jan 4, 2009 in Family, Fathers and daughters, Parenting, Personal | 46 comments

letterHow could I forget the treasures tucked away in the Secret Drawer of my antique chest?  Every time I command the drawer to open, I’m greeted with delight and surprise and remembrance.

Today my father spoke to me from beyond the grave.
The chest is closer to its 200th birthday than the century mark, and from my youngest childhood memories, it was a mustard yellow; when I was newly wed, it was painted blue; and when we made the wise decision to have it stripped and refinished, we discovered that its first coat was white.
It’s a beautiful piece and I can’t imagine why anyone would think it looks better painted.  Constructed with curly maple (according to family legend, I honestly don’t know what the wood is), two of the four drawers are accented with intricate carvings surrounding their skeleton key holes.
Make that two of the five drawers–the fifth is undetectable to the untrained or uninformed eye.
After an unplanned bout of Winter cleaning, I rounded up a few items that needed to be stored in a safe place.  The Secret Drawer comes to mind only when I need it; much like the Room of Requirement at Hogwarts.
With treasures in one hand, I opened the drawer with the other. Immediately my eyes were drawn to an envelope wrinkled and yellowed with age, the handwriting instantly recognizable:  my father’s.
A 13-cent stamp punctuated the upper right-hand corner; the post-marked date, June 20, 1977.  I was 14, the same age as my middle son.  Daddy would have been mid-40s, the age I am now.
Slowly, I sat down, and even more slowly, I unfolded the time-worn letter, written on what was once white legal pad paper.
It was dated 1/19/77 and at first I was confused; the postmark said June, not January, but as I read it, I realized it was just a mistake.  That made me smile.
This letter, written to me while I was at camp for a month, was upbeat and chatty, two words I would never have used to describe Daddy.

He talked about losing at tennis (I had forgotten he played) and he thanked me for his Father’s Day gift that year (TV trays).  He said it was almost too quiet “without all you monsters around” (another smile…he always called us monsters).  He was hopeful I was enjoying camp and making lots of new friends.

He chatted about looking at station wagons but not finding the right one (we ended up with a Vista Cruiser right before school started back that summer).  He told me he cooked hamburgers that were “so bad [he] couldn’t eat them”.
And he told me he missed me…
“…probably more than I think.”
And today, realizing just now that it’s almost the two-year anniversary of his death, with unexpected tears clouding my vision…
I could tell him the very same thing.
 
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{p.s.  Stop what you’re doing right now and write your parents or your kids or someone you love.  Don’t email, don’t type it, hand write it and mail it.  Now.  Someone will thank you in 30 years or so.}