The swirl of sorrowful news in recent weeks pushed ‘what if…’ questions to the top of the pile. What if we didn’t have a protracted way to allow emotions to pour out? What if we only had texts, emails and phone calls to rely on? What if we had no means to archive events as they unfolded? What if, what if, what if. I’ve wondered about ‘what if…’ for a few years now but hardly in the context of what we face now.
We’d be the lesser for it, that’s for sure. The letters are a touchpoint, a home base if you will. As mundane and hum-drum as many pages are (and no doubt will continue to be), it is better than a jab in the eye with a sharp stick as my parents might have said. I’ve preached before that there is no single letter that carries extraordinary weight, it is the body of work. My long-lost high school friend Nancy laments that “I do so wish I had thought to do something like this for my children years ago so someday they would understand where I came from and who I really am.”
How right she is. Who we are is manifest in how we relate to each other and explain the relationships and the evolution of relationships. Ellen and Reid should be able to decipher the chain of events not just for these last few weeks but for most of the past decade. Each letter is single spaced, but there’s plenty of room to read between the lines. The ‘what if’ train of thought is one I’m glad to have not dealt with.
As always on Wednesday, here is a letter sent not long after my move to Charlotte in 2006.
Nov. 27, 2006
‘Cakes/Reid: Well, the one thing about bathroom scales is they don’t lie and they have no way to break the bad news gently. They call ‘em like they see ‘em. So as soon as I stepped in the door yesterday after returning from Omaha, I sucked it up and stepped on to see how much poundage was added with mo’ turkey, mo’ dessert, still mo’ turkey and mo’ taters. Oh, and that pan gravy slathered over everything. To my surprise, I hadn’t gained much of anything and I would’ve been willing to bet a modest sum that I was up 3 – 5 pounds. This is after not being shy around the table. One thing you can say about your grandmother, that lady knows how to cook, not only in quality but sheer volume. She can really bring it in the kitchen. She asked about you guys repeatedly. I told her all was good.
For the most part, the Christmas shopping is over and done with. Maybe a few small things now and then, but your bigger gifts were shipped to _________ Drive last week for arrival tomorrow (Tuesday). I stopped at the house on Saturday before playing golf with Kenyon, Oleson and Allen. Things looked good, Henry could be saddled and ridden like a bronco, and I dug up some chive to take back to Charlotte for my new copper window planter from Smith & Hawken. Your mother and I went over to the mall to buy a couple of things, and it was good to be around her. Weird, but good. For the most part she appears to be happy, and it’s good for her to have her mom and sister and the gaggle of friends to help her. Wish I had that in Charlotte. But we had a pleasant enough time and it was good to see her.
The Colo. – Nebr. game was closer than the score indicated. EB, my good friend going all the way back to 3rd grade, Bill _______, was able to use the ticket so things worked out just fine. The Big Red has clearly slipped a few steps but they will play Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game this weekend. Your Uncle Ralph wants to go to the game in Kansas City, but he can’t find anyone to go with him. He wanted me to buzz up for the weekend, but one game every 10 years is plenty enough for me. Reid, did you know Butler won the Preseason NIT in NY? Yeah, they rolled over Indiana, Tennessee, Gonzaga and some other flunky. It was quite the show. So you’ll have something to look forward to when you get back.
The weather sure is a hell of a lot different. 40s and 50s in Nebraska, 72F when I returned home yesterday afternoon. Now, that is a bit over the norm, but people say that’s how it can be almost all the time. It was in the upper 30s this morning, but no wind. So it was nice. But it will be 70F this afternoon.
Sort of settling into some routine around the house. Leave work, hit the gym, go home and cook something. One of these days, I have to get organized. EB, I ain’t moving the office downstairs until I can assure myself that the mountains of paper littering the family room and current office are under control. I’m paying most of my bills online, but I need filing space for stuff. Got out on the Harley yesterday for about 50 miles. It was good to ride if only for a while.
You guys do not need to worry about any sort of gift for me. I’ll get you both down here soon enough and that’s enough of a present as far as I’m concerned. So really, don’t send anything down this way. I’ve got enough stuff on my plate – and on the couch and on the floors – to keep me occupied. People are already out selecting Christmas trees. I’m not there quite yet. If the mall ever has a Scrooge exhibit, I hope they call me to serve as Old Ebenezer. I’d fit in pretty well. Well, gotta go and serve the corporate master. Be good, be safe, be healthy.