Category Archives: letters

The Date.

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*Originally written June 28, 2013.

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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.

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© 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.

littlebarefeetblog.com

My Child.

*This is a vicarious piece. Please read it with an open heart. Thank you.

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Dearest,

It’s me.

I know you’re busy.

But, there is something I want you to know.

I’ve wanted to tell you, all my life, but the time was never “right.”

Maybe these tenuous times provoke me, today. I’m not sure what. I only know that, right now, I desperately believe that you deserve to know.

And, now, I am ready to tell you. When you are ready, you may listen.

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When I appeared, coupled as one of your future parents, I was as naiive, gullible, clueless, innocent, and fragile as you have ever felt in your most fearful and anxious moments. I was also enraptured by belief, and hope, and imagination – just like you are, at your most radiant.

When I found out that you were about to enter my world, I experienced every emotion contained by a human.

You, however, were not responsible. If I felt excitement, you couldn’t know. If I felt fear, you were not its cause. If I was angry, you were not to blame.

When you were born, every tiny detail of your presence stopped my heart.  I saw the extension of my better self.

But, you.

Who were you?

Did I have any idea?

No. I did not.

Instead, you would come to embody my expectations, my hopes, my dreams, and my fears. And, I didn’t realize that you would feel all this. I really didn’t. And, you do not owe me your forgiveness.

As you grew, my image of you was formed in my individual mind. As your parent, I had a distinct perception of you.

I would also grow, with you, to experience expanding perceptions of you. And, as I observed you, and interpreted your behavior, I chose to define every aspect. You didn’t know this, did you. No; you did not. I hardly realized any of it, myself.

Eventually, as needs seemed to warrant, I would discuss my perception of you with your other parent. Sometimes, we came to agreement about you; in nearly equal measure, sometimes we did not.

What we did not fully grasp during our inevitable discussions was that you were distinct from our every perception. What we did not know was that we were imposing our interpretations of you, believing them to be accurate depictions of your every motivation and impulse to act. We were sure we knew your very thoughts. We were convinced. And, how so?

You were, after all, our very offspring; you lived, because we had also lived, and would not had we not. Yes; our egos fed our every belief.

How many years of your life, thus far, did we labor under this misconception? Can anybody know? Perhaps you could tell us. When was the moment that spoke to you? When did you say to yourself: “They don’t get me. Not at all.”

We aren’t sure how old you are, at this moment of your reading. Perhaps you have chosen to revisit this letter, years after it has been written; perhaps you have eagerly opened it, immediately upon receipt. Whichever the case, only you can determine how you will both react and respond to what is coming next.

Think about the last time you remember feeling a strong desire for yourself – a wish, an aspiration, a goal. Consider the emotions that came to bear upon that motivation. Were you energized with positive anticipation? Were you fearful of potential obstacles? Were you concerned about preventive forces?

Your experience of that desire is known to me, as well. Only, in my case, the desire was personal – to me, as an individual. Each of us has had them, distinct from the other – both myself, and your other parent. And, throughout your life thus far, every one of those desires has played out in your life.

You couldn’t have known. You were not responsible. And, you still are not.

Sometimes, those desires involved you directly. Perhaps we imagined that you would become, or accomplish, or reach some sort of life milestone, that would in some way either fulfill our own unfinished lives or mirror our own successes. And, maybe you can name a moment when you felt this happening to you. Maybe you made a major life choice, strongly influenced by a desire that was born in one of us.

Today, I am ready to acknowledge something. I speak to your soul, spirit, whatever moves you to be.

Today, I extract my ego from your world. This is a painful, yet liberating, act. I am embarrassed, humbled, and awestruck – by the realization, by myself, and by you.

I. acknowledge. you.

Thank you for breathing deeply of your right to inspire air. Thank you for exhaling all the poisons that try to press through. Thank you for being the soul that entered the body I was so graced to produce. I am honored to truly know you, even as I am known. May the illuminations that await us both be welcomed by our spirits, whole heartedly.

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© Ruth Ann Scanzillo

9/9/15   The thesis of this piece inspired by Kerry Alan Kruger. All rights those of the author, whose name appears next to the copyright symbol . All presumptions of alleged value aside, sharing permitted only by request, with author as source acknowledged. Thank you so much.

littlebarefeetblog.com