Sunday, June 21, 2009


Dad died eighteen months ago. It's a rare day I don't think of him, and I know Mama still tells him "Good morning, Sweetheart," when she wakes, and "Good night, dear," when she goes to bed. And Dad? He still shows his love in new and unexpected ways.

Last month, Mama found what amounted to a love letter to her and all of us kids, from beyond the grave. She was tidying Dad's old office, straightening things, sorting papers, and picked up a familiar folder. It held, I think, some of Dad's writing. (He's a published author.) Mama had handled that folder any number of times, but for some reason she'd never examined the contents of the inside pocket. This time she did, and pulled out, along with some other papers, a paper-clipped sheaf that began, in Dad's ornate handwriting, "Dear Mother:" It was dated, "22 June, 1945."

You have to know that anytime we come across something Dad penned, we're going to read it. Mama was holding a letter she'd never seen, and wept as she read. Tears filled my eyes, too, when she called and read it to me. I'm going to share Dad's letter here.

"Dear Mother:

It almost looked as if you and I had forgotten how to write, but here's proof that I still know how. Hope you're in good health--as for me, I never felt better in my life.

At present I'm t home with my Darling Wife. She's busy cooking supper as I write this. We just came back from a walk. Did a lot of window shopping--seeing what different stores had to offer. Looked in at lots of baby shoes, baby clothes and wall paper for a nursery. Dreams--I wish we had a home so that so much of it wouldn't be dreams.

Well, supper is over and we've finished the dishes. Pawnee is washing her hair. I'm continuing where I left off. Mother, with my usual luck in important things, I found the most wonderful, and most perfect for me, girl in the world. I'm very, very much in love with her and am given in to wondering if some heavenly power didn't send her to me--tho' goodness knows I didn't rate it. Pawnee said she heard there was talk about our marriage being "one in a thousand towards succeeding." That sort of gab is a little over my head because there has never for a single instant been a doubt in our minds. I love her more with each passing day. She's all my dreams come true."

At that point, Dad segues into business talk with his Mom, centering on the stipend he was having sent to her out of his Navy pay. He comes back to his young wife and his dreams for family a few pages later. Dad's mother had her heart set on a Navy career for him. I suppose she thought of it in terms of security for him--steady job, no fear of lay-offs, and a pension at the end. Dad, at the time, was having nothing of it.

He writes:

"I like flowers, good soil, animals, chickens, and hard sweat. I like a home that means more than just a temporary place to sleep. I like the sunrises over tall trees, the chirp of sparrows in leafy branches and sunsets behind fleecy clouds. I like mountain air and mountain streams. I like fishing and hunting. My boys and girls are going to grow up at one school and be known by everyone as a member of one of the old well-known families. I'm a civilian, Mother, Dear, not a Navy man."

Grandma prevailed. Dad spent twenty years in the Navy, and by my senior year of high school I'd attended eight schools. Eventually, though, Dad did get his farm--eighty acres of orchard and strawberries, a flock of chickens, and hunting and fishing every year. The years spent on that farm in the Hood River Valley hold some of the happiest memories of my life, but, in truth, every place we lived was filled with the love of my parents, the warmth of a large and loving family, and the sort of memories you store in your heart always.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. We will always love you.


SisterDG said...

What a beautiful post, Anitra, and what a treasure that letter is. Thank you so much for sharing this.

Anonymous said...

How magical for you this must have been... and it's just a beautiful entry. It's made a little movie in my mind.

Loriel said...

That was so amazing to read. Grandpa was so wonderful and had such an amazing heart. Thank you for making my morning.
Love you!

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