July 15, 1987. What? I looked at the seal on the envelope. It had never been broken. The stamp was 22 cents. Mother’s writing was scrawled across the front in her beautiful cursive writing. A letter from home.
When moving, I tossed papers into boxes determined to toss most of it when I got settled. Well, that was almost a year ago. Now that my hand is back in action, I decided to tackle the job. Memories. I saved memories. Special letters, tickets stubs to my son’s shows, programs, scribbles from a child’s hand, even letters from my second-grade class when I had German measles. Yes, I had it all.
It is an emotional thing when you touch these memories from your childhood, from the lives of your children. Sweet memories of those who are now gone and of days when you were young and silly. My first book when I was 4 scribbled on several little pages. A story of a clown and the firemen who saved him. Old yellowed clippings from the Advocate telling of births and deaths. A story about my mother with her smiling face looking at me. A letter. A letter from home.
Yes, a letter from my mother was buried in the pile. “Mom?” I said out loud. I feel her presence often but never so much as in that moment. At that moment I wanted to have my mother’s arms embracing me as I held this unopened letter. A letter written when my children were kids, and I was married. A whole lifetime away. I felt a bit tentative opening it. And, why had I not opened it when it came? What would I find inside? Was it a message from the great beyond? Well, just open the letter, Pam, and get it over with.
Mom wrote every week even though she called every week as well. Her letters were full of news of the neighborhood and of the church. I was caught up on family comings and goings and the health of all. This letter was like receiving one of the same many years ago. A letter from Mom.
Her first words: Surprise! (Well, indeed it was.) I thought maybe if I wrote you a letter I could forget how hot it is and maybe the heat will go away. (For a brief moment I thought maybe heaven was having a hot spell. Better than the alternative.) She went on to tell the weather forecast and told me she had just talked to Peg. The letter was written soon after my sisters had come to visit. Evidently they loved Oregon. Community news: Doris Wert was not doing well. Margaret Stager was having pain. Doris Lavy was having a rapid heart beat. Neff Road was not healthy on this particular day. She was dreading the church picnic in the heat. And, Gene and Betty Johnson, my cousins, were preparing to visit me. Uncle Bob stopped smoking and Aunt Welma was playing cards. She finished with Dad going out to pick zucchini. Nothing earthshaking. Just her usual filling me in. The normalcy of it was more touching than had it contained a message from the great beyond. It was another normal day in the house back the lane. I was homesick.
“Just think, in a couple of weeks I’ll be 75. The years are going faster all the time. Love you much, Mother.” More a treasure now than it would have been all those years ago. A message from Mom just to tell me she thought of me and loved me. I got a letter from home.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. She can be reached at email@example.com. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.