As noted a few posts ago, Reid reminded me not to stew too much that the letters to he and his sis are far from high art. “It’s reality,” he said.
Last week was more of the same. If it is reality, then they are getting a super steady dose of it. It is remarkable how the letters have changed in the past decade to keep pace with their maturity and ability to accept the good news along with news which isn’t so cheery. That’s testament to them getting on with leading their own lives. What once was designed to keep them occupied for a few moments in college with homey witticisms has become a running dialogue of one family’s life and times. As with any family, a hell of a lot happens in the space of 10 years.
Actually, we have just passed the 11 year mark – Ellen, correct me if that’s wrong – in the drip-drip-drip dad-to-children process. When you look at what has occurred even in the short span of the past half-year, it continues to be evident (at least to me) that the letters are as much for the dad as the pages are for the kids. It is cathartic to record what’s gone on in Nebraska, my health, and whatever else weighs even a little heavily on me. A few weeks back while in Grand Island, I had a Saturday night alone to pour over boxes of old family photos, some from the late 1800′s and the early part of the last century. Who were these people and where do they fit into extended Bradley-Andersen-Allington-Benson history? There were few pieces of correspondence to shed light or hold clues. Many of my ancestors shown in sepia or black and white prints will pass by without so much of a hint as to who they were, where they lived, what they did. Right then it came to me one more time that for better or worse, Ellen and Reid have at least my side of the story in the stack of paper that at least Ellen throws into a box. It’s better than no side of our story at all.
September 6, 2011
Ellen/Reid: There hasn’t been much in the way of light-hearted news as of late. Your grandmother’s predicament, hurricanes dumping on North Carolina, job losses/high unemployment in Charlotte. You’ll just have to bear with me while I pick my chin up off the floor. One of these days that sour worm will turn and it will be rosy and sun-shiny. Uh huh.
Actually, I don’t how one can keep moving ahead if they remain dour all the time. Sure, we’ve been thrown a few curve balls but we just have to keep walking forward because there’s nothing to be gained if you stop or inch backward. That’s how I’m trying to look at things even though that’s not necessarily the direction I feel like looking at right about now. It’s just hell on wheels. Your uncle calls me most every day to give me the latest update. It’s just not good and the news probably won’t get any better. Your grandmother continues to lose weight and energy. That’s not a very good recipe for health. I’ve been hearing from friends, including my cousin in Oregon, Tom Andersen, to keep our collective chins up, so I’d expect both of you to do that and to keep her in your thoughts and prayers. Maybe that’s a way to connect to her. I don’t know. There is a strong chance she will be moved to the Veteran’s Administration home in Grand Island but that’s not wholly decided yet. Even Tom’s dad (Henry), your grandmother’s brother in Portland, has his own hands full with declining health, too. It’s just so sad to see. He was such a vibrant, charismatic man.
Your uncle and I were talking about post-service plans for your grandmother just this day. The service will be in Omaha at Dundee Presbyterian with internment next to your grandfather. There seems to have been some small snafu with the literal grave site, as there is potential that the site next to your grandfather has been sold (as opposed to being in use). Your uncle is looking into it.
It was a good diversion to know you both jetted out of town for the Labor Day weekend. I never traveled that much when I was your age unless it was by car. Maybe this is just a different time, but you guys fly so much you know all the airport protocols by heart and probably have hefty frequent flyer mile accounts. Reid, NYC is the one town I miss but as you found you’ve got to have a bank account to make a go of it there. But there’s no better spot for food or fun or anything else for that matter. I really do miss it. You can keep LA and Miami and Cleveland. Nice spots, but there’s only one Big Apple. Ellen, I literally laughed out loud when you said you were going to yet another wedding. How much of your disposable income has gone to going to weddings? You are the wedding queen of the central U.S. I swear, your next job could be a gig at a wedding shop. You’ve just had a lot of friends walk down the aisle. Reid, I can’t recall a single friend of yours who has gotten hitched. That’s okay, there’s time.
The Observer had headlines the other day about 30,000 layoffs at the bank. We have an efficiency movement underway and apparently it will be very efficient. I try not to think about what might happen and try to keep what’s left of my nose to the grindstone. Whatever will be, will be. Que sera, sera. You can only get pounded over the head so much, and besides, I’ve already been down that road. I think it shakes John’s cage a little since he’s got to try to help me piece a retirement situation together. But at risk of jumping ahead too far too fast, let’s just take one step at a time.
Well, I’ll sign off for this time. Keep the text messages coming, and I’ll keep the paper flowing your way. Wish more of it could be green for you guys.