life lessons

Big Love – Not The TV Show

Well, we’re coming up on Valentine’s Day – and I wonder about the intent of a holiday marketed by Hallmark as an opportunity to speak of love in the most sincere of ways.  I wasn’t going to write about it at all, perhaps in defiance if you will, of whatever societal expectations there may be in plucking on heart strings during this time of year.

But karma is a funny thing.  With my husband off on a business trip, snow falling outside (albeit with little conviction), I decided that today would be a good day to attack my closet.  Okay, perhaps ‘attack’ is the wrong word for I was prepared to be distracted at the slightest opportunity.  After a couple of hours I’d already made bags for AmVets and the Lupus Foundation, filled two trash bags full of hangers and assorted junk and was ready to applaud my diligence, when I decided to brave the top shelves where the really good junk travels (’cause that way I can’t see it when I walk in).  Dry cleaning tags galore, safety pins…and to my surprise a couple of letters, almost twenty years apart, involving two different relationships and markedly different circumstances.  Rather than tell you what I’m giving away to charities, I thought I would share them with you.

“To Didl [my mom’s name was Dee, friends and family called her Didl sometimes] with love – not to be opened until 11AM February 26, 1975


It isn’t very often that I write to you now, but after all, twenty five years is a long time and this anniversary should be treated in a special way.  So it is that when I tell you I love you I won’t really have a chance, or maybe the skill, to say everything.  I’ll also say that I want and need you – but that too is only a part.

I know that my love for you has grown richer and deeper through the years. And it is a happy love – one that exhilarates and comforts at the same time.  You are a rare and special person and I’m glad that my heart belongs to you.  To this I can only add my feelings of pleasure when I think of our past love, and my feelings of joy for that of the present.  The troubles we’ve had have bound us together inseparably, and if only for this, they were not too bad.  And it seems to me our present life together is the happiest and most fulfilled that anyone could have…

We shall have glorious years ahead!  The future is sure to be the greatest part of our lives, and I would really like to hasten it if it weren’t for the pleasures of right now.  And so to end this little love note – There’s a poetic line that paraphrased, says it all:  Didl, come love with me, the best is yet to come!  With that eager anticipation I’ll leave you for a few moments – till I see you later on.  I love you.

Your, Jack

In the late spring of 1995, my dad was diagnosed with Lewy body disease – a form of Parkinson’s that lays scourge to the body and the mind.  His behavior had changed, his gate stilted.  The diagnosis confirmed that which we all feared.  We spoke everyday on the phone and said little.

June 1995

“Dear Daddy,

I’m typing this only ’cause it’s late in the day, and my handwriting becomes increasing less legible as the day progresses.  I figured you shouldn’t have to suffer through trying to decipher my hieroglyphics..

So much has gone on lately, so many things that have made me feel like touching base with you once again – like we did when we used to drive into work together, or walk to school, or just hang out.  Those same opportunities don’t present themselves with the same frequency (heck, with the boys clamoring around you, not even remotely :-)), so I’m going to take the writing route and see how I do.

I know we love each other tons, and though it goes without saying, it feels good to repeat.  I love you with all I have.  You are my dearest friend, most exemplary (and only) dad and truly one of the best [people] I have ever known.  There is so much I adore about Andy that is unique to him – and I know how lucky I am that I got it right.  Perhaps we are the prince and princess you said we were in your toast to us – time will tell.  I can say that at times, he reminds me of you.  You have been my caring ear when I’ve needed it, professional adviser when my little cog on this economic wheel begins to creak and groan, a receptive audience to some really lousy jokes, a hand on my back when I have veered off in the wrong direction.  I have been blessed with the feeling of your unconditional love even when you’ve been ticked at me and I know it every day.

These past few weeks have been profoundly tough on you and mom and I know that whatever lies ahead is resting more than a little uneasily on your mind.  Please, please do not resign yourself to any outcome – have hope, have heart, and lean on me if you want to – I will always, always be here.  You are a wonderful man, cherished beyond words – use some of that knowledge to try and lighten your worry a little bit.  Whatever is going on, the core of you is exactly the same and that is who I see every time I see you, that is who I hear whenever we speak – and that is who you are.  That is what matters.

I guess I’ve gone on a little long – [why] does everyone say I don’t share what’s on my mind – look how wordy I’ve gotten!  I just want you to know that I love you, our relationship past, present and future.  Can’t wait to see you next week.  Love, m

Yes, I cried when I read these – I wasn’t prepared.  All the letters are in one place in my office (or so I thought).  All I could think about is that regardless of the calendar – there are big, big loves that provide the narrative for our lives and remain part of our days.  I often read the wonderful blogs posted by besotted parents of hilarious pre-schoolers and can identify with their indescribable feelings of love. I  marvel at authors who skillfully pen classics about unrequited love and love that defies time and space.  I’m not sure I have that kinda talent – I’m the one who cries when watching Amy Adams in ‘Enchanted’.  How does someone like that even begin to write about it?  I’m not going to.  I’m just going to tell you what I know – whatever may happen to love over the course of a lifetime – between spouses, parents and children, friends, family – if it’s big, the kind of love that tightens your throat and renders the most eloquent practically mute –  you should celebrate it all you can, everyday.  It really is all there is.


8 thoughts on “Big Love – Not The TV Show”

  1. Soooo beautiful….how to say that you are so fortunate to have had parents you could relate to in that way, who could speak the love words openly while living so that you could hold them in your heart all the days of your life? Thank you for writing so eloquently, poignantly, and honestly. I am sorry it was so tough for your Dad. I had the opposite: parents who both died suddenly, no good-byes, no closure. Yes, the ‘big loves’ are precious, priceless treasures in need of no holiday or Hallmark moment. Live and love mindfully. You seem to have been blessed with much loving to hold 🙂 ❤

    1. Thanks Allison – I was lucky to see how big, grown up love was done…and to have had the chance to reach out to my dad before the meaning of words became lost to him. I have been blessed with some huge loves (with a couple of big boo boos thrown in for humility and good measure) – my husband, the boys and my daughter-in-laws. My heart is pretty full with gratitude everyday as hokey as that, m

  2. A perfect way to lead into Valentines Day! And a great reminder to TELL people you love.

    May I tell you that I have fallen in love either your father through your blogs?

    thank you, my dear, new Friend

    1. Something we all could do more…love is a practice in my mind, not an end game. In terms of dad – he was an easy guy to love, But he was also layered and complex. I fear I’m not doing my mom justice in this, for she was remarkable as well. Enjoy all the love in your life Carrie, for you have so much! 🙂

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