Friday, June 12, 2009

A Letter From the Past

I received a letter from my dad yesterday. It was bitter sweet because he died almost exactly seven years ago.

My step-sister Stephanie Ann was going through some of my step-mother’s things when she discovered some negatives and a photograph of a painting my father painted for my grandmother’s 65th birthday. Folded around the photo was a letter from my father explaining the genesis of the painting. Stephanie Ann knew I would want these things.

The painting, which now hangs in my dining room, was of a mental snapshot my father had of a Spring morning in the Missouri Ozarks when he was fifteen. On that day he’d stood in the red dirt road in front of his grandfather’s house and store in Bona and drawn a sketch of the scene. I have the sketch, too. He wanted to capture the scene because after a year living with his grandparents he was leaving to join his parents, brothers and sister in Vancouver, Washington. His words add to the picture greatly.

My father traveled a lot throughout my childhood which in a way prepared me for his ultimate departure. Sometimes it seems that he's just gone on another trip. I have stacks of letters and postcards from him as he was good about writing whether he was away in the Pacific testing the atomic bomb or in the Middle East or Europe hobnobbing with kings and airline company presidents. It seemed the most natural thing in the world to get this late letter, especially so close to the anniversary of his leaving. First I’m going to make copies of the letter and photo for my children and then I’m going to put it in a plastic sleeve and tape it to the back of the painting.

No comments: