One of those wonderful things a person usually just reads about in books or sees on the motion picture screen happened to me the other day.
A letter, a thick yellow enveloped letter, arrived at my home a few days ago.
It came all the way from California!
My eyes went immediately to the return address label. It was from Frank, a very good childhood friend of my father’s.
I wrote to Frank seventeen years ago after Daddy died and never heard from him. I thought that maybe he had moved and my letter got lost. A million things were passing through my mind as curiosity soared. With the fat letter in my hands, a good feeling passed through me. I went inside my house and carefully tore open the top of the envelope. I felt like it was Christmas and I had saved opening the best gift for last. But it was June. It was a letter, not a package. Yet, a feeling of blessing came over me. I was holding something very special in my hands…a present, a presence.
Handwritten! 14 pages! Beautiful penmanship.
I’M SORRY TO BE SO LATE IN REPLYING TO YOUR LETTER.
Wait a minute, I thought as I immediately looked up to the date on the right hand corner of the letter. It read, JULY 30, 1996.
Wow. Frank did receive my letter! He and Daddy were best friends since their childhood. As nice as it would have been to get a reply back from Frank, I just figured he knew that I knew how he felt and that sometimes we can’t just put into words some of the things we hold so dearly in our hearts.
Page one, two, three, four, five and six…and seven and eight…pages nine and ten and eleven! With every sentence my heart overflowed with joy! Frank’s anecdotes, the confessions, his eloquent yet earthy choice of words describing and painting pictures in my mind from a time that had long since passed…not forgotten…moments now put into words so dearly from his heart!
BABE TOOK ME EVERYWHERE, ANY PLACE HE PLAYED OR WANTED TO HEAR SOMEONE ELSE. (Started again May 22, 2013) !!!!!!!!!!!
Had I read this correctly? In the middle of page twelve and at the beginning of paragraph three, end of sentence one, Frank, using parentheses, let’s me know he has picked up where he left off from over 17 years ago!
Frank explicitly recounts a few more incidents from the old days and then gives a quick update filling me in on his life and what he is doing now.
Toni, Franks wife, must have chided Frank, in a loving manner, to close the once misplaced letter. Here’s how the letter ends:
TONI SAID, “ARE YOU WRITING A THESIS?” I’M SORRY IF THIS BORES YOU BUT WHAT I START I MUST FINISH.
I MISS BABE BUT IT IS NICE TO REMEMBER.”
P.S. AGAIN, COULDN’T FIND YOUR ADDRESS. JUST FOUND IT 6/3/13. WHO SAID THE GOLDEN YEARS ARE GREAT?
Frank’s letter included his new address and his cell#. I called him the morning after I read his magnificent letter…had to hear his voice…
Frank’s voice was sturdy and spry for his 87 years. I told him there were photos in the mail heading to California. He told me he’d be back in Michigan soon. I left him my phone number along with an invitation to call me as soon as he and Toni arrive in town. We have a Sunday afternoon dinner date planned. The menu will be simple: Spaghetti and meatballs, good bread, good wine and even more delicious conversation. If it’s sunny and warm we’ll eat outside under the trees…just like in the old days on Elmdale he wrote so much about.
Seventeen years since Daddy passed on. A letter delivered. Time melts. Only love remains.
“I JUST COULDN’T WRITE BEFORE WITHOUT CRYING.
EVERYTHING ABOUT YOUR FATHER HAS COME BACK TO ME.
AND IF YOU DON’T MIND I WILL JOT DOWN SOME OF THOSE MEMORIES.”
Frank “jotted” down sweet sweet recollections from a sweet past. MIND? No…only wished it could have been longer!
My Dad’s (Babe) band played for he and Frank’s 50th. High School reunion on September 05, 1995. Frank had flown in for this event! Frank writes:
“BACK TO THE REUNION. I ARRIVED A LITTLE LATE AND BABE WAS PLAYING SO AT THE NEXT BREAK, BABE WAS STANDING AT THE BAR TALKING WITH A COUPLE OF GUYS.
I WALKED UP TO HIM AND TAPPED HIM ON THE SHOULDER. HE TURNED AROUND AND SHOUTED, “FRANK, MY BEST BUDDY.” WE EMBRACED. I HAD TEARS IN MY EYES. AND I SAID, ‘BABE, YOU ARE MY BEST BUDDY’.”
With every reading, the LETTER fills my eyes with tears. Frank didn’t simply finish something he started seventeen years ago. Frank created, through his memory and using words, a PRESENCE of the most spectacular kind! The postman didn’t simply deliver a long overdue letter. He delivered a written embrace from a buddy. The letter, like the hug shared at Dad and Frank’s High School reunion, embraced me and refreshed my memory of the power and the beauty and the undying goodness of a LOVE we all share.