Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Dear Mom

(This post originated with an exercise from my Solo Performer 2 class that I’m currently taking at the People’s Improv Theater.

We were asked to write directly to someone and the instant Jen, our instructor, gave us the assignment, I knew to whom I would be writing.

I can’t believe I didn’t think of this on my own, but I guess I was too close to my subject. Anyway, here goes...

Dear Mom,

It’s been five years since you left us and I miss you very much.

I’m still in the house; it’s just me now since Dad died in January and I get pretty lonely sometimes. The place is much too big for me and it holds so many memories.

It seems like every day I find something that reminds me of you.

Joan and I have been cleaning up, slowly, of course, but we’re getting there. We found your wedding dress a few weeks ago. That was a shock, I can tell you.

I always think of that photo of you on your wedding day and how beautiful--and how frightened--you looked.

It’s a bit faded, of course, but we’re going to have it cleaned and offer it to Kristin for her wedding day.

We don’t know what her plans are, but wouldn’t it be lovely if she walked down the aisle in your gown? I know you would be very proud of her.

Remember your little pink jacket? I gave that to Kristin, too. And we’re going to give that old piano stool to her as well. She used to play with that thing endlessly when she was toddler, making me spin her around again and again.

I’m keeping all the old holiday cards and it’s turning into quite a pile. I guess I’m going to have to finally get organized or otherwise I’ll be swamped by all the paper.

I’ve got the photographs, too. There is one of you in a den mother’s uniform, back when we were in the Cub Scouts. You look very sharp.

I remember when I was in the Cub Scouts and whenever I put on my uniform, you'd comb my hair (remember my hair?) and made sure I looked presentable.

You used to call me "Capt. Parmenter" after the character in F Troop, which we used to watch together.

We’re making a pile of things we’ve found in the house that we can sell—nothing of any sentimental value, naturally, just the stuff that accumulates during a family’s lifetime. We’re going to hold a tag sale, which should be an experience.

Speaking of experience, I turned 50 this year. Can you believe that? We had a big party at the Lief to mark the occasion and how I wish you could have been there.

I remember all those great parties you used to throw for me when I was a kid, how you worked so hard to make sure each of us had a great birthday. I'm a little too old for Pin the Tail on the Donkey, I'm afraid. More like Put My Hand on the Geritol.

Marie, Joan and I will be meeting up with Jim, Amy and Victoria (God, she’s so big now!) in December and we’ll be spending Christmas in Hawaii.

This will be the first time I’ve spent a Christmas away from home, but without you and Dad around there isn’t much of a need to stay home. I don’t know what the food there will be like, but I know it could never compare to your lasagna.

I’m still having trouble with my memories about Dad. I know you wanted us to get along with him, but it isn’t easy, even now. I recall so many of the bad things he did, it tends to over-shadow the many times he was good to me.

I don’t have that goodness that you had, that ability to forgive. I wish I did. But I’m going to make every effort to move on from the anger for your sake—and for mine.

I thought about writing a letter to him, but I’m not ready. Maybe I should write two letters: one to the loving father and one to that other guy.

Marie is up in Cummington now, by herself and I’m afraid she’s very lonely. She’s like me, really, alone in a big empty house that used to be filled with people. Summer’s almost over so she’ll have to come home soon.

It's funny how I can still hear your voice. Like when I toss something toward the wastepaper basket, but fail to get it in. When I was kid I would keep walking until you spoke up.

"I believe you missed," you'd say.

And when I eat standing up, I think of how that used to get on your nerves, as you ordered me to sit down and eat like a cristiano!

It's October so I'm getting together my winter clothes for the coming cold weather. And I'm going to wear undershirts, I promise. I know how much it bothered you when I didn't.

We found a pair of your shoes not too long ago and I started to cry. I had forgotten how small your feet were, how small and fragile you were.

I didn’t appreciate how delicate you were and that while you had tremendous a heart, your body was far too brittle for this harsh world.

If I knew how brief your time with me would be, I would have been a much better son than I was. All I can do is ask you to forgive me for all the stupid things I did or said, for all the times I hurt your feelings or made you feel sad.

I wish I could have been successful while you were around, that I could have had a decent career and not made you worry.

And I wish I could have given your grandchildren, but I’m afraid that didn’t work out. I guess I spent so much time being your child, I didn’t think much about having any children of my own.

I want to make you proud of me—and, yes, I know, you’re proud of me already, but you know what I mean.

I don’t want you to worry about me, even though I know you worry about all of us. I’m going to try to be the person you want me to be and not get mired in anger and bad memories.

You taught me so much; it’s just taking a long time to get through this concrete head of mine.

I better get going. A lot of people end their letters by scribbling “wish you were here,” but I really mean that.

I wish you were here, with us, happy and healthy, so you could do your ceramics and your arts and crafts stuff and watch creepy old horror movies.

You were the best thing that ever happened to me, the best friend I ever had, and the best mother anyone could ever have. And I’ll love you forever.

Your son,



Calamity Jen said...

There's a lot of beauty in how heartfelt that letter is.

I bet your mom would be happiest if you would look on the bright side rather than wishing that things were different -- that you had been a "better" son, that you had been more successful during her lifetime, etc. All moms really want is for their kids to be happy.

Rob K said...

Thanks, Jen, and, as always, you see the good side of things. You steer me in the right direction.

Lesterhead said...

I lost my mother last year, and I often write letters to her in a journal. I loved yours.

Rob K said...

Thank you, and I'm sorry to get back to you so late on this.