Saturday, January 12, 2013
a card and a box
I was not going to post this morning. There are still too many areas of the house to be cleaned before can put it on the market.
Then I read Felipe's piece on tombstones. About death, sadness, remembrance.
I have had an essay idea running around in my head since late November. While tossing some old correspondence, I ran across a post card of Timberline Lodge -- a WPA-constructed resort on the slopes of Mount Hood.
At one point, it must have been in a scrapbook. A tattoo of Scotch tape offers a clue.
But I did not keep the card for its artistic value. The note on the other side is what made (and makes) it worth keeping.
It is from my mother and father. The year was 1957. From Portland. Our family was living in Powers at the time. From the address, we must have been staying with my grandparents.
I initially thought the two of them might have been at a logging conference. Logging was the family business back then. But my father had the foresight to see that felling trees offered a limited future -- as are all jobs dependent on natural resources.
That was about the time he decided to move the family to Portland. But that would be a year away.
The card is special because it is one of the few notes I have from him in his handwriting. The message is simple: "Hi, men. I wish you could come up. I miss you a whole bunch. Love, Dad."
I don't remember receiving the card. But three things would have been special to a boy of eight.
His father called him a man.
His father missed him.
His father loved him.
Those are thoughts worth saving. And save them I will.
My father does not have a tombstone. He died in 1996 and was cremated. His ashes sit in my dining room (right next to one of his favorite candy dishes that I doubt has been refreshed since his death). Awaiting some yet-to-be-determined adventure.
No fancy urn or marker for him. His home is the same cardboard box that we received from the crematorium seventeen years ago. Complete with what looks like a UPS label.
He would not have wanted anything more. It reflects perfectly his modesty. And his readiness to pull up stakes.
But he does have a stone -- of sorts. His life lives on in the memories of people who knew and loved him.
And he lives on in a note he sent me (and my brother) fifty-six years ago.
You are a man.
I miss you.
And I love you.