My dad wrote me one letter in his life, in pencil on a yellow legal pad of paper. But one letter was all he needed to write. His words of encouragement and love, mailed to me when I was a college student, are etched in my heart. Though he has been gone nearly 20 years, his words continue to give me strength.
My dad’s letter is stored in the back of a picture frame that sits on a bookcase next to my bed. Inside the frame is another letter. My husband Frank is a photographer, and pictures, not words, are how he best expresses himself. But on our 20th wedding anniversary he gave me the gift I had always wanted– a letter full of words describing his love for me.
I bought the picture frame on my 50th birthday, when my teenage son Cody surprised me with a poem. In part, the poem reads:
“When skies are blue
You’ll continue to teach me as I age
Taking me through life
Step by step, page by page.”
I often turn to these three pieces of paper for comfort, support and encouragement, in times of joy, on milestone dates and during dark days.
A fourth letter waits in the wings for me. Several years ago my mother was very ill, so I opened the folder containing her funeral arrangements. Inside were two sealed envelopes – one addressed to me, the other to my brother. My mom recovered, and the letters remain unopened.
These are among my most valuable possessions.