After sharing the letter I received from my dad in 1987, I read it over again. And again. And again.
I was holding a piece of my father. His handwriting– right here on these three pieces of yellow legal pad paper. The love he felt for me written in his hand. The swoops of his letters and the stress of his pen stroke are materialized. I do not have to try to remember what it looks like, I can see it.
I often wish I had a way to hear them, my parents. I have tons of pictures that I look at often. Pictures of them when they were younger than I am now, although, I thought they were so old. In these pictures they seem content. I don’t have many pictures of them looking truly happy, but they looked content often. I also have pictures of them when they were much older, after life had used them up, where wrinkles marked not age, but sadness. I can see so much in these pictures, so much of what they never said is expressed on their faces.
However, I wish I could hear them. I’ve forgotten what they sound like. I have a vague recollection, but that is all that it is: a memory. Memories are never crisp enough.
As a child, I spent a great deal of time lingering around my dad’s work bench so that we could talk. I wanted to hear anything he had to say. He spent a great deal of time in silence, so when I could get him to open up and talk to me, I absorbed every word. I would kill to hear him speak his favorite aphorisms. “When you get a job, work so hard that when you quit, they offer you a raise to get you to stay.” “No one wants to float in a raft with a person who is willing to pull the plug and let it sink.” “Don’t be one of those persons who spends time trying to figure out how not to do something. They spend so much time trying to scheme; if they would have just gotten the task done, it would have taken a lot less time.”
My mother and I would spend hours gossiping. She loved to talk, and life was not always so serious to her. She would talk about anything or anyone. She loved celebrity gossip. She loved Regis and Kathy. We spent many hours discussing the lives of celebrities who she had seen interviewed. How I would love to sit with her and discuss celebrities now.
It’s weird. You hear the voices of the people you love every day, and you just take it for granted. But when the voices are gone, they are gone for good. I wish I had somehow thought to tape their voices. I wish I would have asked them each to speak into a microphone.
“Hi Peachey Poo. This is Dad. I love you.”
“Hi Honey, This is Mom. I love you.”
Note to self: Write my children letters on paper in my own hand. Tape a message of love to them so they can always hear my voice.