Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Belated Message of Love
By Lucile McKenzie
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I expect people will think it odd for me to be writing to you now, since you’ve been dead so many years. But somehow even writing a letter I know you will never see makes me feel I’m establishing some type of contact. That would seem odd, too, to those who would recall that I never shed any tears upon hearing of your death, nor later at your funeral.
Well, Grandpa, I think you could have understood my lack of emotion at the time. As you would remember, our eldest child, Terry, fell from a tree and died a few weeks before you did. He was eight years old. As a matter of fact, his funeral was exactly two weeks before yours. It was just too much, Grandpa, too much. I had no more tears. One year later, a knot inside me loosened and I wept for you. I’m sorry it took so long.
I remember right after Terry died, you called.
“Sorry about the boy,” you said, and we talked for a few moments. I knew that our conversation was so short because you once walked where I was walking then. Many years ago your first son, Wilbur, died of Typhoid Fever at age four, and we carry that with us forever, don’t we?
By the time Terry died, you were blind from Glaucoma, so you didn’t come down to the funeral. And a few weeks later, you went to join him in heaven, dying peacefully in your sleep.
I wish you could answer this letter, Grandpa. There are so many questions I would like to ask you, so much laughter to share. You had such a great sense of humor. I remember one day when you were driving your old pickup truck with several grandchildren riding in the back, and stopped just before crossing a small wooden bridge that spanned a creek. You got out of the truck and walked back to us kids, who eagerly inquired,
“Why are we stopping, Grandpa? Is something wrong?” Solemnly, you said,
“This bridge won’t hold too much weight. So you guys all have to stand on one leg while we cross it so you won’t be so heavy.” Carefully, we all braced ourselves against the cab or the sides of the pickup bed, and balanced precariously on one leg while you inched the truck ever so slowly across the bridge. How we cheered when the truck reached the other side, “Yea! We made it!” Living frugally on your pension, you saved money all year long so you could give each grandchild a dollar bill for Christmas and on our birthdays. Such memories bring smiles to our adult faces all these years later. I admired you so much. You were so fiercely independent, living alone even after your sight was gone--not wanting to be a burden to anyone. You occupied the long, dark evenings listening to the baseball games on the radio, no longer able to watch them on TV.
We have a snapshot of you and Terry at Mossy Rocks State Park where the entire family met for a family reunion. Although unable to see, you enjoyed being out in the woods and hearing the voices of your grown children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. You sit calmly in a folding chair, the sun filtering through the trees and Terry, all gangly legs and arms, stands beside you. How could any of us have known that less than a year later, you would both be gone. Well, I must close. Just know, Grandpa, that even though I could not weep at the time of your death, the times we shared on this earth are among my most cherished memories.
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