After your death, lots of family and friends offered to help me sort through the 30 years of stuff that you and Mama accumulated in your final and favorite house. It was in fact a huge task, but the truth was I was the only one who could decide what to toss and what to keep. And to do that, I had to look at every single thing including every single piece of paper in every drawer, every closet, and every box in every corner of the house, the attic, and the barn.
But I’m so glad I did because I found something I’d never seen before – this letter you wrote Mama before she was Mama in 1948. Wed. night, May 12, 1948, to be exact. You must have been finishing up in the milk plant at night before heading to your day job at Dixie Motors. It’s a love letter. And even though you’re my daddy, I know it is vintage R.T. before you were my daddy. I had to smile at the smooth talk via the written word, even as you apologize for your writing, saying what every girl wants to hear, gently overcoming potential objections, putting the moves on through a letter that communicates just as well from a suitor in a dairy plant in Bedford County as from any Romeo under an Italian balcony. But your words – and your x, x, x’s! - are also sincere and sweet and genuine. Mama must have felt that way too since she married you, and still had that letter when she died 60 years later.
I love this letter. I was tired and maybe a little depressed the day I found it. But suddenly the physical and emotional fatigue disappeared as I read the words and imagined the two of you way back when, and I laughed because Mama never had a chance! Since it’s a love letter, I could have honored it on Valentine’s Day. Or since Mama saved it, I could have shared it on Mother’s Day. But I know that you wrote that letter because you wanted my mama in your life forever. In accomplishing your mission, you wooed the girl of your dreams. As a result, I was born to two of the best parents in the universe.
So, Happy Father’s Day Daddy. Well done.