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Letters From My Father

I did the unthinkable today. I went down to the basement and brought up a large bin of letters my father wrote me after I left home for college. I sat on the couch and opened it up and began to read some of the letters. Then, I remembered why this box more than any of the other 30 bins of junk downstairs is such a disorganized mess. I tried organizing it several years ago, thinking I’d archive the letters and put them in a nice memory box, but he was already sick by then and I could not bear to visit the pieces of him that I would never have again.I got through five letters today before having to put it away. The letters were rich with the boring details of his life. I could hear his voice and remembered things about him that I had forgotten. He wanted me to come home one summer and work as a waitress at The Kettle. He often wrote about his adjustment to life without me. I remember a poem he sent me once, “Jennie’s Gone.”

In December 1986 I told him I wanted to leave SNU. I wanted to go to college in Boston, or attend the American University in Switzerland. To this, he wrote:

“Restlessness plagued me all of my young life…I was not satisfied doing anything. I read the book, The Adventures of Marco Polo and every novel about the sea available to me. I read every story about sea captains and pirates and other adventures. I could not think of anything except going out to sea.

“I had a voractious appetite for the adventure stories of Jack London. I saw the movie of his life over and over again…So, I do know how you feel, Jennie.”

Birthday card for my dad the year I turned 10.

In another letter he discusses my desire to be a writer. He wrote: “Do submit your work regularly and do not make the same mistake I have made; because the years — even your years — will speed quickly, quickly by.”

That letter was written in May 1987. In January 1988, he wrote:

“But, never fear the rate of speed with which you approach your goals in life…”

I miss you, dad. I wish you could come back for one day and call me on the phone and check on me. I wish I could go to my mailbox one more time and look inside and see a faithful letter from you or a Valentine or birthday card. When I see you now there is so much emptiness in the room because a monster has eaten your brain. And it has left just enough for you to remember me; to know that you are in the process of leaving us, and question why it seems I have already gone. I am sorry, dad. I am sorry I say goodbye too soon.

Gen X Blog Jennifer Chronicles

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  1. Anonymous

    You are a very fortunate lady to have such beautiful “Keepsake” letters from your father. You must share more of his poetry.

  2. sarah

    Absolutely beautiful and touching. Your dad was/is a wise man. How lucky you are to have these letters…these pieces of him to keep his mind always with you.

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