I ran across a sad story while rummaging for something to post for Throw Back Thursday, a little ritual that some of us nostalgic folks who like to talk about ourselves participate in on Facebook. I was actually looking for something else, and uncovered a letter from my grandfather to my mom, dated March 28. I acquired the letter and some old newspaper clippings stored in the original “air mail” envelope after mom died in 2000. Granddaddy spent a little extra for the stamps so that the letter would make a quick trip from Alabama to Maryland.
There was also a check in the envelope, mentioned in the letter – a gift for my mom and my brother. They had birthdays one day apart in early April. Why hadn’t she ever cashed the check? I wondered at the time. I stashed the envelope along with tons of photos and other family stuff I’d brought home. And life moved on.
So today, I wondered again about that check. The year on the check is 1957. One of the old newspaper clippings was an obituary for my grandfather. I was three when he died suddenly of a heart attack. That much I knew, but I didn’t do the math on these family heirlooms until today. He wrote this letter to my mom, giving her a little grief about renewing her driver’s license (ask me later about “Susie”) and talking about his new flower garden.
Then died that night.
You can tell from his jovial letter that he was feeling good about life after three years of retirement. Finally some time to write long letters and work in his garden. I can imagine how devastated my mom was when he died so suddenly and then the bittersweet delight when she received his letter a few days later. She may be the last person he really talked to and shared his last day on earth. He teased her about Susie the car and about how he only shared his letters between she and her sister when they didn’t “say anything insulting about each other.” I loved the letter when I first read it long ago, and now I love it even more.
So that’s my Throw Back Thursday offering this week.