Behind 15 years of letters to my children

Every Monday for 15 years now – I may have missed 20-25 weeks during that time – I have written a letter to my children, tucked the one pagers in a #10 envelope, stuck a stamp on each envelope and deposited the letters in the nearest mailbox.

My daughter, Ellen, reminded me not long ago that this is really the 15th year she has received a weekly letter from her dad.

Ellen on her wedding day. Yep, she got a letter on this day, too.

Ellen on her wedding day. Yep, she got a letter on this day, too. (See the July 19, 2010 post.)

The letters have been my way of keeping a line of communication open.  The letters aren’t a leash, but instead are just how I span the distance between them and me (Ellen, shown above with her husband Tim) and my son Reid (on the right in the photo).  Ellen is in St. Paul, Minnesota, and Reid

lives near the Loop in Chicago.  I’m Dave, their dad.

A bit of history is in order.  When Ellen went off to college (escaped home life really) it was a tough go for her parents.  All the things that the suddenly empty nester parent thinks about literally raced through my mind.  Would she be lonely?  Would she miss me, my wife and her teenage brother?  Does she have enough money?  Did we forget something – as jam packed as the van was, it’s a surprise there was anything left at home – we needed rush to her?  But it was our worries I worried about.

The day after we got home, on a Monday, I wrote Ellen a letter and plopped it in the mail.

When Reid joined Ellen a couple of years later at the same school, his name was tacked

Reid close to his office in Chicago's Loop. Good kid, driven, all-knowing on all things digital.

Reid close to his office in Chicago’s Loop. Good kid, driven, all-knowing on all things digital.

onto the salutation line.  What Ellen saw, Reid saw.  What was good for one was good enough for the other. Yet what began as a way to fill a few minutes of their time in college has evolved well beyond that original intention.  To me, the accumulated weight of the one-pagers is enormous indeed.

Although they’re adults now,  every Monday another letter is mailed. I may have missed a handful Mondays over the years but not very many.

What does The Weight of a Single Page mean?  To me, letters have a heft and a gravity that far outweigh their scant weight. With very rare exceptions, every letter to Ellen and Reid has been a single page.

I’ll be pretty respectful of your time (and your interest).  Posts are every Monday and typically are the previous week’s letter to the kids.  Each post will be kept in the range of a few hundred words so as not to overly bore you with long diatribes or meanderings. (Some passages of some letters are removed since there are issues that will stay between me and my two.)

You’ll see, too, the one common thread that runs through this fabric; how the relatively simple act of writing a letter has, at least to this dad and in good times and bad, created some sort of bond and is a chronicle of our family history one page at a time.

Dave Bradley

Charlotte, North Carolina

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2 responses to “Behind 15 years of letters to my children

  1. Linda

    Pretty cool, Dave! I look forward to following your blog. I’ve never blogged before! 🙂

  2. Felicia

    Great blog!! I’m impressed and I subscribed!!

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