I just wanted to take a minute to say a few words out loud and put them in print.
Thank you for putting your hand writing on things. There is some real beauty to the world before word processors. Seeing the perfect print and the loops and swirls of your handwriting has been a series of tender moments. I especially love that swirly loop or underline that underscores things. It's like your own personal exclamation point. Or period. Or sometimes both. When I close my eyes, I can see you sitting at the kitchen table . . . the round one with the yellow floral tablecloth writing in that perfect print. You liked those black fine point flair markers. I don't think I considered it before now . . . and by now, I most certainly mean . . . now that you are gone . . . but I don't think I ever received a note or a letter or a package through my high school or college days without that loopy swirl under it. It's so authentically you.
Thank you for being an organizer. Thank you for painstakingly categorizing events, negatives, extra prints and photographs. They are priceless and I am so, very blessed to hold your treasures in my hands. (Hey, what's that can of pickles doing with the mail?)
My heart nearly stopped in my chest when I held these paper thin, original print envelopes dated 1941. Opening them is like Christmas over and over and over again. There is something cool on the outside . . .
And something cool on the backside . . .
And a priceless treasure inside . . .
And something even better . . . that's you on the bottom row, 1st on the left. You are very handsome.
Gasp . . . authentic photos from the World War II. I promise to take good care of your stuff.
Speaking of hearts aching and stopping in my chest. It's much easier to see what's important to people in retrospect than in the moment. Even in your death, you have taught me a really valuable lesson. Write. I guess you weren't joking when you gave me stationary and stamps and told me to write. Now, as I hold all of the letters that I EVER sent you . . . from 1991 when I moved out of your house, to 2011, when I sent you a Christmas card . . . neatly bundled and dated and held together with a bungee in chronological order, I see how important that was to you. I'm sorry . . . so, so, so sorry that there weren't more letters. I should have written more. I should have sent more pictures. I should have been better at corresponding. It absolutely, positively tears me up from the inside out to know that you never got to open that last Christmas card. It had been weeks since I last wrote . . .
Also . . . I didn't know this was important to you . . . . but it SO obviously IS. In your "stuff" are dozens of letters from anonymous people around the world that look like this:
They are from people. Just people. Around the nation. They are signed with just a first name . . . Penny, Bob, Joe, Hank, Elaine, Sally, Susan, Rita, McKenna . . . . they all say Thank You for your service and your loyalty to our country. They all talk about your dedication and your work and your effort. They all say THANK YOU for fighting for our freedom and for risking your life. A great many are from Elementary School kids, even ones right here in my own neighborhood. They talk about honor and courage and what it means to be a Veteran. Even those school kids thank you. But I never did. So, here and now . . . THANK YOU. Thank you so, so much for your courage and your honor and your bravery and your integrity. Thank you for embodying all of the big words that I hope to teach your grandchildren . . .
All my love,