Tag Archives: correspondence

Turn back the clock…


This is something I'd of never seen in the Midwest. Stopped the Harley on little-used SC-341 near Darlington, SC for this shot of cotton.

My guess is the first heady days of college life have gone poof for most kids.  Their lives have settled into a routine; study (their parents hope), eat, sleep, hang out with friends, and sure, party.   Okay, maybe those aren’t ranked in the right order.

By now, because they can’t stand the suspense of not knowing what’s going on, parents have initiated some sort of ‘how are you?’ contact.  That’s the typical formula.  Probably a mixture of emails and texts.  Schools might as well yank mailboxes because those will never see much use.  No, scrub that.  Then the credit card offers would never have a place to land.  But on further review, maybe yanking the mailboxes isn’t such a bad thing.

I’ve heard from a dozen people or so about my op-ed piece in the Charlotte Observer.  What a great idea, some say.  We should all do that, say others.   I don’t know.  Maybe my time, the time of correspondence, has truly gone by.  You can’t open up the newspaper these days without Google trumpeting a new something or other to make our lives even faster or more socially networked than they are now.  More efficient, too.  But we damn well can’t turn back the clock, that’s for sure.  I’m whining on a Monday morning.  Time for coffee.

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Here is last week’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

September 7, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Reid, it was good to talk to you at length yesterday.  I like the way you think although I don’t pretend to understand but a small portion of your digital world.  This morning I’ll open up your emails and try to get through the web site stuff.  I really appreciate your help.  By this weekend most of the heavy lifting copy-wise should be finished.  And be sure to send at least cell phone pix of your new bachelor digs.  There’s something about privacy that you just can’t beat.  You shouldn’t be concerned at all that you don’t live in what others perceive as the tony section of Chicago.  It’s all about what makes you tick, not them.

So today was your first day in the classroom, Ellen.  Will be anxious to get the lowdown on your first week with the kids.  No doubt you will be a smash hit just like you always have been.  Good to get back in the whirl of teaching.  That is your realm.  Your weekend had to be lively and exciting what with Tim’s brother in town.

I overlooked a good Bubba story last week.  When Felicia and I were out west – out in western North Carolina – we were fishing a little stream on Saturday morning.  I was several yards out front working my way up the pools when I turned around to see where she was and she was frantically motioning me to hurriedly get back to her.  Maybe I’d come a little too close with a fly or something.  But her anxiety was real: we had a visitor.  It seems a local Good ‘Ol Boy, shirtless and maybe toothless and his backwoods element, had been spying on us from the bank.  Felicia had spotted him peering through the underbrush.  My guess is he was eyeing her instead of me, but it was fairly unnerving.  I never saw him, but a local confirmed later that Bubba was a little out of kilter.  All we could think about was Deliverance all over again.  We got out of there real fast.

Nothing new to report on the job front.  In a few week’s time I’ll be done here.  Already I’ve packed up most of my personal belongings and my cube is nearly barren of all but bank paperwork.  I’ve been taking stock of the past few years here, trying to make sense of what has unfolded (as opposed to unraveled).  I think I was a square peg in a round-holed world.  In the strictest sense, banking was simply not my cup of tea.  Now it’s on to whatever it is that lies ahead of me.  Fleishman-Hillard is a possibility but only as a contractor.  Better than nothing and it is in my wheelhouse.  The Charlotte Observer has approached me to write a regular column on senior housing issues – hey, I’m a senior – but it will hardly pay the bills.  But that’s where your help on the web site will come in handy, Reid.  I really appreciate you pulling all that stuff together and I’ll get at it this morning.  You’ve in essence dragged me kicking and screaming into the new world.  It will be a slow build but will be interesting if not fun.

Kind of a slow weekend in these parts.  Rode through Asheboro, NC and up to Winston-Salem to the Harley dealer.  Only then did we realize we’d already been to that dealer.  A pair of idiots.  It was a true senior moment.  The other high point was staining the front deck with some sort of water-proofing compound.  Big whoop.  The tomato plant, however, has made a resurgence in the face of my best efforts to neglect it.  There are fruits on the vine although the orbs are size-challenged.

This time next week I’ll be in Idaho with Bob and Dave.  I’m somewhat anxious about the trip because it is going against my grain.  That is, hold fast to the home front to keep plugging away for a job.  But has Bob has hammered into me time and again, things can wait.  Ready to see the Real West again even in the face of angst.  FYI…I will likely head to Nebraska to help your uncle Ralph tie things up relative to the home and to see mom in Grand Island.  There may even be side trips to St. Paul and Chicago, so watch out.  Keep your cell phones charged and ready for a call.

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Filed under College, Contact, Correspondence, Mailing, Parenting, Writing to college students

A place for ‘thank you’s’…


Every so often, I send a ‘thank you’ to someone for a special kindness or some other effort worth recognition.  Not so much a note, but as you would expect, a letter.  In most cases a note just doesn’t give me enough space to say all that needs to be said.  (Every time I put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, I think of my buddy Betsy who is the Queen of high-volume and well done thank you’s.  She has single handedly revived this sadly fading art.)

I’m trying to play catch up with correspondence to well-deserving folks who made the last few months bearable (i.e. last week’s letters to Pete and Bob) for me, my family and, of course, my dad.  Yesterday was one of those instances.  The target was at the very top of my must-write list: the nurses and staff at Odyssey Health Care in Omaha who played the key role in helping my father make a painless, comfortable and dignified passing.  The letter is addressed to the lead hospice nurse who first counseled my dad on the realities of the situation and what he could expect.  She was a gem.  They all were.

My one regret with hospice was that, in my addled state of mind, I neglected to record the name of each of the nurses who, in turn, sat with us, tended caringly for dad, and supplied huge amounts of physical and mental relief.  The letter sent July 15 is shown below.

And just below that ‘thank you’ is today’s letter to my mother.  She’s having a tough go of things, and the intent of this letter is much the same as all the others she and dad received over the years: assure her that things will be okay, keep her spirits up, and remind her she is in my thoughts and prayers.

———————

July 15, 2010

Su: My father, Ralph Bradley, passed away on June 28 at Lakeside while under the care of your Odyssey hospice nurses, and I couldn’t let the chance go by to thank all of you for what a wonderful, caring job your staff did for him.

From the first time we met with you, it was just a good experience.  No punches were pulled, and there was no gray area on your explanation that your goal was a comfortable, painless – and to me, dignified – end.  You accomplished that on all scores.  We should all be so fortunate to pass on in such a painless manner.

I wish I knew all the names of the nurses involved.  Kristin (sp?) is the one name I recall, but there were others, too.  It was incredible how you all handled a grieving family with a dying father and you made that portion of the journey much easier for us.  For that, I am very grateful.

Yours is the job you could not pay me enough money to do, but your special breed of staff appears to have the empathy and compassion that enables you to treat each patient in the manner they deserve.  Thanks again for all you did for my dad.

Best regards-

Dave Bradley

Charlotte, North Carolina

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July 16, 2010

Mom: I hope this finds you well and able to tough out the summer heat.  Omaha doesn’t have anything on Charlotte on that score.  You walk outside here and you sweat.  That’s just the way it is.  We have to deal with it in these parts.

Some ground squirrels are doing a number on my tomatoes.  If I had my wits about me – and dad’s pellet gun – we could do something about it.  But I’m full of bluster and will probably let them chomp away.  I’ve raised some of the low hanging vines off the ground and perhaps that will deter them from making a mess of my tomato crop.  At least they’re eating the small ones.  Heck, they’re all small tomatoes.

I sent a note the other morning to the staff at hospice to thank them for the job they did with dad.  They really knew what they were doing, and they made him as comfortable as they possibly could, and I think that deserved at least a short letter with our gratitude.  They really did things in the best possible way, and for that we ought to be very thankful.

Neither of the kids has said a peep this past week.  I guess Ellen has texted me once or twice.  Her 27th birthday is coming up here in a week.  She feels pretty old but I told her to get a grip and tell someone who cares because that wouldn’t be me.  Some of us are way ahead of her on the age thing.  She’s doing pretty well.

It’s good that you and Henry have had a chance to talk.  They now have the direct line to the Glen so I suspect he’s going to be a regular visit by phone with you.  He seems to be holding his own, although he and Mary are very concerned about your well being, as we all are.  Keep your chin up.

Watched a little bit of the British Open this morning as I ate my standard breakfast of cereal and South Carolina peaches, and the golfers were having their way with the course.  I don’t understand how they can hit it so far and so straight every single time.  And then when they have a short shot, they stick it right next to the pin.  Even Tiger is doing okay on the course.  I’ll try to play this weekend but something tells me my results won’t be nearly as good.

Had dinner with Betsy and Bob last Friday night, and both inquired about how you are doing.  I told them pretty well under the circumstances.  They are both pretty good souls and good buddies of mine.  I hear you’ve had some visitors there, too.  I’m glad your friends are stopping by to tell you hello.

Well, I’d better go and get some work done.  One thing you can count on around here is yet another conference call.  But that’s okay.  Better to have a call rather than none.

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Filed under Correspondence, Family, Parents

A 44 cent security device…


More bad news on the local personal security front last week.  Seems a CD chock full of Social Security Numbers and other personal data was swiped and no one knows for sure how or where the information will surface or if it ultimately fell into the wrong hands to be used for criminal purposes.  For all we know someone could be downloading the hot data right now onto some nefarious website or applying for bogus loans or arranging for ersatz credit cards.

This instance, while far from isolated, is another reminder that our dependence on all things electronic and interconnected has rough, jagged edges.  Admittedly it is a stretch to equate written correspondence as somehow safer than the brittle security of the Internet.  But one thing we know to be true; whatever goes on the web can be fair game for someone who doesn’t play fair.

Maybe I am nutty – that is a rhetorical question that does not demand an answer – but I keep falling back on the idea that there is not always a need to go electronic in our communications.  That’s why much of the time my best security device is a 44 cent stamp.

———————–

Here is the May 24 letter to Ellen and Reid

May 24, 2010

Ellen/Reid: We’ve had better days than these but somehow we will manage to get through it all.  It is just the way of the world.  Your grandfather’s most recent setback would have been a death knell had the intestinal blockage not been removed.  As it turns out, the blockage was caused by a hernia which was constricting his intestine.  Not quite sure how that occurred but it did.  It is of a mild relief that it was not related to his cancer but still, it won’t further his cause.  He is exhausted and in need of rest.

This happens just when we thought we’d found the ideal place for the pair of them.  To stay together was their wish but we could not of known the emergency surgery lay ahead.  That has thrown a wrench in the works.  How the place works is that you sign up for a specified level of care; i.e. your grandfather stipulated he would handle your grandmother’s medications and most of the other duties.  But with him out of commission, there is no one to give your grandmother her pills, no one to take her to the dining area, and no one to literally watch over her.  They would have ridden things out in their little apartment and that would have been great.  Hospice would have come in to assist your grandfather when that time arrived.  Honestly, I’m not sure what we would have done if they were still at home.

But they found your grandmother roaming outside the building yesterday, and what that means is that she can likely not stay there anymore.  The cost to provide what is essentially 24 hour babysitting is exorbitant and well beyond their budget.  So now we’re up in the air and all of this is upsetting, particularly to your uncle who is incensed that planning for such eventualities didn’t occur long ago.  We didn’t have benefit of a crystal ball to foresee events.  Who knew your grandpa would go into surgery and turn this latest plan upside down?

The move itself went okay.  Your grandfather was upset at the rapidity of things but your uncle really pushed the envelope very, very hard.  A bull in a china shop.  But fortunately he did or we’d be in worse straits than we are now.  Watching your grandparents go up and down stairs in a dimly lit house was agonizing; you saw that for yourselves a few weeks ago.  I’m thinking of taking a leave of absence to go up there to attend to things, in part because your grandmother needs it and to ease the burden on your uncle who is closest to the action.  Not certain how all of that will plan out but I’m looking into it today.  I am still scheduled to be there June 4 – 10.  The family room and kitchen and their bedroom has all been moved.  As a practical matter, what remains is to simply start organizing the remaining items; tools, kitchenware, clothing, furniture, and other odds and ends.  We haven’t even talked about readying the property for sale.

Before all of this came down I began to ask your grandfather again about our family past.  I’ve included a recent newspaper clipping recounting his story from November 21, 1944 when his B-17 made a forced landing in Belgium.  He was glad to talk about it.  We also talked about his forebears; looks like his side of the family had its roots in North Carolina and we fought on the losing side of the Civil War.  That’s why they ended up in Clark, Missouri as they pushed Westward after the great conflict.  Reid, your grandfather thinks Gen. Omar Bradley is a first cousin of your great grandfather, Ed Bradley because they were both from the same neck of the rural woods in Missouri.  We talked too, about how grandpa worked for a little paper in Ida Grove, Iowa before jumping to the Sundance Times and Crook County News in Wyoming.  His pay in Ida Grove: $30 a month.

I’ll go for now, but keep your phones on for the latest updates.  If you have any questions, let me know and I’ll answer them as best I can.  We’ll get through this even if it’s not easy.

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Filed under Archiving, Mailing, Postage, Technology