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*Originally written June 28, 2013.
About twice a year, this girl deep cleans.
It’s about being a grand-daughter of the Great Depression.
Mum, the daughter, saved everything. Only she was a sorter. There were jars in the cellar, each filled with whole items according to size and shape. A jar for nuts. A jar for bolts. (She worked a semi-automatic machine during the war.) A jar for screws. A jar for nails. A jar for brads. A jar for rubber bands…..
Me? I’m a chaotic. It’s all there, just……..in a sea-salad of the casually-tossed, collecting for a majority of months, sometimes, in a single calendar year……until the dining room table slowly sinks out of sight.
This week, the tablecloth finally emerging, the last nine items stacked neatly by my purse so as to be addressed tomorrow, there remained one smaller pile – of greeting cards. Half were blank, awaiting use; the other half, those too precious to throw out.
Carrying these to the secretary for precise placement, I spied another which had been set aside on the cedar chest. Reaching for it, I was startled to see the handwriting inside; it was from Dad.
A note from Dad was always a keeper. His having reached the 5th grade at the Walter E. Fernald School for the Feebleminded back in 1925 without a mother or father to help him with his homework, Dad’s penmanship was a curious, halting conglomeration of large, stylized caps and illegible lower case, as he expertly compressed his rare uncertainty about the spelling of words between inflated left-handed lower loops. Yet, ever the entertainer, the rhythm of his elaborate speech was woven into the writing, and I sat down to read once more what would be his final note to his only daughter.
But, most amazing was the date at the top.
This was a blank card, in fact a Thank You note that he’d selected from a miscellaneous box. Floral on the front, a simple “thank you” inside – and, his message on the facing frame.
And, this message was for my birthday. He’d wanted to give me money, so he said, a gesture more formal than anything because he knew I never asked for a penny from my Dad. And, sharp as a tack until well past 90, he wanted me also to know that he knew the gift was coming early this year because he could remember my birthdate without prompting. I was, after all, the first baby he’d ever held as a father.
So, though he cited my birthdate by number, the 26th, he was giving me my money gift this year with the admonition that I “spend it wisely.” This, after first telling me how much he loved me and just how proud he was that he could brag about his only daughter. These were always the first words coming from Dad ….the “I love you” part.
But, the date at the top. The date at the top jumped off the page this time. Though I’d remembered reading it back when he first presented the card to me, the date he’d written his note was never more poignant, more mysterious, more baffling, more heart-rending, nor more inspiring than at this moment: it said, (and, he’d underlined it, too): ” April the 9 Lord’s Day“.
“April the 9” was the day Dad died.
© Ruth Ann Scanzillo 6/13 All rights – in whole, part, and letter – those of the author, whose story it is, and whose name appears above this line. Thank you for your respect.