Please come visit me at Rach’s today and learn how I met Todd!
When our parents died, my sister and I kept many of their personal items; we divided up family heirlooms, knick knacks, books, photos and letters.
Some of the things I brought home with me have been incorporated into my own, such as their Christmas tree ornaments, which now adorn my tree. Many items have been donated after realizing I didn’t need or want them and some have simply tucked away until I’m ready to look at them or have a house big enough in which I can display them properly.
While rummaging through a closet in our loft last week, I found a stack of letters my father had written to my mother.
How ironic that that very day for Fat Mum Slim’s Photo of the Day for July, the topic was “letters”. I grabbed them, took a photo and posted it on Instagram with the following message:
A handful of letters my father wrote my mother. I haven’t been able to read them because the sight of my father’s handwriting is almost too much to bear.
I meant every word.
Seeing his handwriting is hard.
Harder than I ever could have imagined.
Plus, these aren’t my letters so I’m not even certain I should read them.
On one hand, it’s tantalizing to read something addressed to someone else knowing it was never meant for my eyes and on the other, I wonder what clues they can provide about my mother and father’s relationship and do I really want to know? They were written a long time ago, back before my parents were married.
For now I’ve decided they will stay tucked safely in the closet.
Within the stack, there were also a few other letters; letters my grandmother had written her daughter, letters my other grandmother had written her soon to be daughter-in-law, letters my aunt had written her soon to be sister-in-law and a notepad. Clearly these were precious to my mother, stacked and kept together with a piece of red string.
The note pad was the most intriguing. Inside I discovered mostly blank pages until the very back where there were six handwritten pages.
Page one begins: “It all started…”
With those three words my heart skipped a beat as I foolishly believed I was about to gain some insight into my mother’s young mind and personality.
She refers to wanting to “this to be her story” and a “manuscript”. It seems she was attempting to document her life.
Growing up, I did not have the type of relationship with my mother that I had hoped for. She was distant and indifferent and I was always searching for ways for us to be closer. Could these six pages hold the secrets to my mother or a special message just for me?
In the end, the pages held no clues and were nothing more than a school girl’s account of a family that moved around a lot. Clearly this was just the beginning of something she had intended to write and share someday.
Once again I had learned nothing of any great significance about the woman that raised me and as so many times before was left with an incredible amount of sadness and disappointment.
How can a person no longer here still make me feel this way?
With Father’s Day just a week ago and mine and Lucas’ birthday this month, my dad has been on my mind a lot lately. There are so many big and little things that remind me of my dad, the time we spent together and what a great role model he was to me.
My dad and I had a very special bond and I was a Daddy’s Girl through and through. I miss our conversations, his genuine thirst for knowledge and his hugs most of all, but here’s what has been rising to the top of my memory bank and making me miss him a little more than usual (in no particular order):
1. Hearing my dad drop the F bomb the first time. It was directed at traffic and made me giggle like crazy.
2. A mortifying incident in which he yelled out the car window to a classmate of mine riding his bike after darting in front of us, “That’s the kind of thing that will get you killed.”. That was 18 years ago and recently my husband yelled the exact same thing as a biker crossed our path. I nearly peed in my pants.
3. My dad loved to dance, especially to 80’s music. Sadly, my dad was a terrible dancer, but you just had to admire his enthusiasm.
4. His roots. My father was born and raised in a very small town in Texas and while he grew to appreciate it, he did everything he could to leave that life far behind him. I wonder if he knew at 10 that someday he would work and live in Africa.
5. His loss. My dad lost his father when he was just six years old, his step-father when he was 21 and his mother at 32.
6. His steady grip and childlike humor as he walked me down the aisle. Twice.
7. Blue. His eyes were kind and the brightest shade of blue.
8. My father lived in Dockers and plaid button-down shirts, in varying degrees of blue, his favorite color. As a family, we lovingly referred to his shirts of choice as “Mike Adams” shirts because you could spot one a mile away.
9. His strong, capable rough hands. He was a nail biter and always wore both his wedding ring and his class ring (seen below).
10. His chicken scratch handwritten lists. He made lists for everything; things to do, movies to see, books he’d read, bills he paid, phone calls to make, etc., etc., etc. My love of lists comes directly from my father.
Linking up with Stasha’s Monday Listicles, a meme right up my alley, because I LOVE lists! Thanks to Kim of The G is Silent for coming up with this week’s topic: celebrate your father with 10 happy memories. I could have gone on and on and on with this list.
I grew up with teachers.
My parents were educators, who worked in American international schools for 28 years and prior to that on an American Indian reservation in Arizona. Their careers spanned 35 years and if I learned anything from them, it was how much they enjoyed their jobs, how hard they worked and how dedicated they were. They loved children and were good at their jobs.
I spent many weekends in either one of their classrooms “playing teacher” as they worked on their lesson plans in preparation for the week ahead. As I got older, I was recruited to help cut out letters, assemble packets, test markers, organize books, try out a new project or craft or run dittos (remember those?).
It was fun being at school after hours and hanging out with teachers when they weren’t in “teacher mode”. Having them over for dinner or vacationing with them and their families humanized them. They were my parents friends and once I became an adult, they were mine too.
I’ve always thought teachers were amazing, selfless people. I realize now that I am a parent, how much faith and trust we put in our children’s teachers and I know that our education system is suffering in this country and our teachers aren’t paid enough for what they do. Many of our classrooms are overcrowded and special needs aren’t being met.
Nevertheless, teachers are the people who educate us and give us the vital knowledge which we need to live our lives. They encourage, support, discipline and prepare us for the road ahead and they deserve a time for us to show them our appreciation.
Teacher Appreciation Week is this week (May 7-11) and it is the perfect opportunity for us to show teachers how thankful we are for their support.
Demonstrate how much the teachers in your life mean to you by saying thank you to the people who work really hard so that we can have a better future.
Lucas took Starbucks gift cards to preschool yesterday for each of his teachers. The smiles on their faces told me that they would be put to good use.
Have you done anything special for the teachers in your life?
For some simple and inexpensive gift ideas, visit my post today on Smart Mom Style.
I haven’t heard his voice in almost five years.
I’m ashamed to admit that I almost don’t remember the sound of his voice.
I have pictures and my memories.
I miss his rough strong hands reaching behind him while he was driving to grab mine in the back seat.
I miss the silly way he’d walk sometimes just to get a smile.
I miss his “uniform”; Dockers and plaid shirts.
I miss his thoughtful questions and curiosity about the world.
I miss his genuine interest in my life.
I miss our conversations.
I’m thankful for my memories and grateful for the 35 years I had him.
I’m blessed that he was my dad.
My father would have been 65 today.
I miss him. More than words could ever express.
I thought of you today as I cut up sheets of Lucas’ school photos and made piles for family members. There should be a pile for you.
I thought of you today when the construction and remodeling company called me this afternoon to give me an update on the work being done to your house, the house Leah and I now own.
I thought of you today when an old colleague of yours commented on something I uploaded on Facebook.
I thought of you today while I drove to the grocery store because the song, What a Fool Believes came on the radio. I could almost hear Daddy singing along completely off key.
I thought of you today as I sat back and quietly watched Lucas playing, busy moving his trains up and down the tracks on his train table and wished more than ever that you could be there with me watching quietly too.
I thought of you today when I caught the scent of a woman in line in front of me at Starbucks because she smelled just like you. I didn’t even have to ask her what perfume she was wearing.
I thought of you today as I carefully packed away Christmas decorations, proud of myself for making it through another holiday without you.
I thought of you today after I received a text message from Leah about an epiphany she had and I wondered if you were here, would she had shared it with me at all.
I thought of you today when I lifted Lucas up to see a wedding photo on the wall and he pointed out, without hesitation, his Grandpa Adams.
I thought of you today, but that was nothing new.
How far back do your memories go? Can you remember being two or three years old? Do you really remember or have you just studied photographs and heard the same stories over and over again?
I often wonder what Lucas will recall when he thinks back on his childhood.
Will he remember…
from time to time that his mom had black nail polish?
that every time a Dave Matthews Band song plays I ask him, “who sings this?” and giggle at his response?
that I’m always a couple minutes early to pick him up from preschool?
that I wear an “angel baby” necklace almost every day and my sister has a matching one?
how the song In My Life makes me cry because it reminds me of my father?
how his dad makes the majority of our meals because I’m a complete oaf in the kitchen?
how I may get so frustrated with him that I want to poke my eyes out with forks but the minute I am away from him I yearned to be near him again?
that in our house objects are not “it” but “he” and “she”?
that I’d be lost without my friends and the ones that have children I hope he grows up to be friends with too?
that his dad wakes up with him every morning so that they can spend a couple of hours together before he has to go to work?
Will he remember the Christmas morning we spent with his cousins, Annabelle and Francesca and the joy he exuded being chased around his aunt and uncle’s house, or…
“playing” the piano?
sitting in our laps to hear the book Purplicious three dozen times?
play dates with new friends with far cooler toys than his?
meeting Fireman Steve and sitting in a fire truck?
Whatever Lucas recalls, I pray he remembers feeling special, adored and happy.
Home: the place where my husband and son are.
Both people bring so much comfort and joy to my life, but I am truly at my happiest in one of two other places; walking along the beach with the warm sun kissing my face, watching seagulls fly overhead, getting lost in my thoughts while at the same time completely clearing my mind. The salt air does wonders for my soul and the sound of the waves calm me.
My third favorite place to be, the place I find the most relaxing is a bookstore.
I miss the independent shops and the knowledgeable sales staff, the ones that actually read and can recommend something you’ve never heard of and fall completely in love with after the first chapter.
Books are magical; the way they feel and smell and line up against one another on shelves. I appreciate their ability to take our hand and transport us to another place and time.
Being in a bookstore is peaceful and I have spent hours walking up and down the aisles searching for inspiration, discovering it, exploring new topics, taking in the faint scent of print and coffee and relishing the quiet.
My love of bookstores, I inherited from my father. Sometimes he’d walk out of a one having spent hundreds of dollars and others, not one cent. The smile on his face was detectable either way.
This post was written for Write on Edge’s writing meme, RemembeRED. This week’s prompt: write about a (real) place that makes you feel peaceful. Where is your quiet place? What does it look like? What happens there? Word limit is 200. Constructive criticism is welcome.
I applied for and received my first credit card in 1994. I was 22 and a Junior in college. I was given a $400 credit limit to shop to my heart’s content at Victoria’s Secret [insert eye roll here] and I thought I was hot shit!
I didn’t know a thing about credit.
All I knew was I loved the idea of buying now and somehow paying later. I had a part-time job at Pier One Imports. I figured I would figure it out.
Of course, one credit card led to another and then another…
Once you were “in” with the Express/Limited family, all sorts of retailers welcomed you with credit lines. Department store credit cards soon followed and at one point, I had them all; Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, Neiman Marcus, etc. Many stores I didn’t even shop at.
Soon I had a wallet full of shiny plastic cards.
I am ashamed to admit that after opening one of the statements (also known as a BILL, I came to find out), my curious father paid off my plastic addiction. Well, first he had a fit and screamed and yelled and then he paid my off all of credit cards.
All the cards were promptly cut up in a ceremony sitting around our kitchen table. There was more yelling, many tears and relief.
None of the balances ever amounted to much, $80 here, $115 there, but my little part-time job wasn’t cutting it and it was time for me to face reality. In total, my parents paid off almost $1500. I was ashamed and vowed I would never let that happen again.
After that, I got smart (or so I thought) and used only one very special Visa card, which I proceeded to rack up a balance WAY more than $1500. I was not going to let my parents bail me out this time.
Although, they did but I don’t think they ever knew it.
When I graduated from college, my parents gave me enough money to live on for one year as a graduation gift. This included rent, utilities and car maintenance (gas and insurance). The check was written to me and I promptly turned around and paid Visa off in full! I was out of debt and also jobless.
Needless to say, I took the first $23,000/year position offered to me and never looked back.
I’ve always struggled with credit cards but I’ve never let myself get into debt again like those early years. I worked hard to stick to a budget and live with in my means but that always meant paycheck to paycheck for me.
Long story short, I’ve never been good with money, I suck at math and while I’m not a big shopper, I’m also not a big saver.
My husband and I sit down several times a year and review our spending, where we’re at financially and what our goals are. I am BEYOND grateful, completely relieved and much happier that he handles all of the bills and budget and anything and everything else pertaining to money in our home.
It’s just better this way.
This post was written for Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop, Prompt 2.) One good reason why you are not in charge of your family’s finances.
My Letters For You guest this week is my sister Leah, who also blogs at L.A. ‘n’ L.A.
Dear Mom and Dad,
I miss you both every day. There’s nothing in life that I want more right now then to see the two of you. A couple weeks ago was the fourth anniversary of your deaths. It frightens me how long you’ve really been gone. You’ve been gone for 1,486 days of my life so far.
There’s so much that I want to tell you. There’s so much that you have missed.
Ultimately, I believe that your deaths changed me. I’ve grown up since you died. I guess I had no choice. I honestly don’t think that I’m your “Little Leah” anymore.
About two years after you died, I moved to Los Angeles. It was time for a change and as you know, I had wanted to move here for a long time. Something else pushed me into moving and that was that Tonya had a baby! That’s right, your oldest daughter has a beautiful baby boy who I cherish more than anything in this world. He brought me back to life after you died.
Lucas is his name and he has your eyes, Daddy. I take so much pride in being his aunt and I do my best to make sure he knows how much he is loved. Tonya and I talk to him about you both all the time and he recognizes your faces in pictures. At 2 years old, there is no one that can make me smile quite like Lucas. There is no doubt in my mind that you would have made excellent grandparents and I’m sorry that you didn’t get that opportunity.
It’s still crazy to me that my big sister is a mother. You would be so proud of her. She’s amazing. Tonya manages to not only be my key support system, but also the most incredible mom. She is so patient and loving. It’s unfair that you are not here to witness her shine in this role. I think that it would have rejuvenated your relationship with her, mom. I really do.
Without you both here guiding and supporting me through life’s ups and downs, I have leaned on Tonya at times of need. I do my best to listen to her and trust her advice. Of course we aren’t perfect and we still bicker from time to time but I do think that we are becoming better sisters and better friends all the time. There is no one that I would have rather had at my side when you died. I like to think that we get each other through the bad moments.
Since moving to L.A., I have struggled to get a job in the music industry. After you died, the economy took a plunge and the music business has been weakened. Finally this past August, I landed a job at a small radio marketing company. I also nanny for a family and have even discovered a new calling in the photography world. I have made some incredible new friends and have even found many high school and college friends that live here in L.A. too. Simply put, I am happy with my life here and I’m so glad that I moved here. Through it all, each day, I strive to make you proud of me. I try so hard to be the daughter that you thought I was becoming. I often wonder if this is the life that you hoped that I would have at 27 years old.
Even after four years, I still catch myself questioning if you are both really gone. I look for signs of you everywhere. I can’t hear a Beatles song, eat a Snickers, walk by a Build-a-Bear store, drink a Diet Dr. Pepper or do so many other things without thinking of you two. I’m touched every time someone says that I remind them of you.
I’m still so angry at you, or rather the hot water heater in your house. I was robbed of so much time with you. It breaks my heart thinking that you won’t get to meet my future husband, be at my wedding or play with my children. These are just the big events. The little ones hurt just the same. I hear people talk about what awful relationships they have with their parents and how they aren’t close. I understand now that what we had was rare. I was very lucky to have such close relationships with you both. Of course, mom, you and I both know we had more. We were best friends too. I literally can’t breathe from sadness sometimes when I think of how much I miss you in my life.
I feel like an orphan. I don’t think that is going to ever go away. It’s a title that I’ve somehow gotten used to and I’m alright with that. If I had one more hour with you both, all I would tell you is that I love you more than words will ever be able to express. I am so eternally grateful for the life that you gave me. You are in my heart today, tomorrow and always.
Lovingly your daughter,