The gift of the love note

Matt and I were invited to a Christmas party at my cousin’s house earlier in the month.  We had a great time (a bonus of not having depression).  Before we left, my cousin, Beth, gave me bag that her mother had sent to me.  It was full of items that had been in my grandmother’s house when she passed away, and my Aunt Linda was sending them to me for division between my sister and me.  It was mostly pictures that Grandma had, and the majority of those pictures were of my nieces and nephew, marking their growth and milestones.

But there were also some memorabilia related to my dad.  There was a school report about baseball (with a grade of 97), a model car that he had put together as a boy, and some of her favorite pictures of him.

Like most people who have lost a close loved one, I think a lot about my dad during the holidays.  I remember the fact that he always put his shopping off until the very last minute.  I remember that Christmas Eve that he tried to fix our stuck back door and we ended up with the back door in the back yard–but it wasn’t stuck anymore.  And when we get together with the rest of our family, I miss his presence.

Thus, the memorabilia that was in the bag that was specific to him felt like a Christmas present.  It was wonderful to pull out the toy car and read the report on baseball.

And I was reminded that my dad was, to his bones, an optimistic person.  He was a natural salesman and spent most of his adult life in some sort of sales job.  He was always quite successful at sales because he connected so well with people.  Maybe because of that optimism I mentioned.

In the bag of items were two love notes that he wrote as a boy.  One of them perfectly illustrates that “never give up” attitude.  He had it even as a young man.

Love note

Love note

Dear Cathy I ham (sic) very fond of you.  And I know you love smity.  And I know you have some more boy friend.  But I still love you.  love Tommy.

I love this love letter.  He recognizes that Cathy loves someone else (Smity), but it doesn’t matter–Tommy still loves her.  It’s that optimistic, glass-half-full outlook that he exhibited until he died.

This little note may have been the best gift I got this year.

Tommy

Tommy

A New Year

We’re halfway into a new year and I have spent a long time thinking about the year that has just passed. What makes a year a “good year” or a “bad year”? Wines have good years, i.e. “Oh, the ’92 pinot was outstanding”, but I think there might actually be criteria used to in bestowing that label. How do you decide if it was a year that you are glad to see end? Can a year be full of fun trips, time spent with family and friends, quality interaction with your spouse, etc. and still be a bad year because of one large devastating event?

I spent the last five months of 2009 just wishing to get to the end of the year. After my dad passed away in August, the year became a “bad” year, perhaps one of, if not the, worst of my life. But up to the point, eight months had passed with what I would have judged to be great events: I sold my house, Matt and I finally were able to live together, we started remodeling our house, we took a great vacation to Playa del Carma in February, and neither of us lost our jobs in the middle of the economic downturn. We were blessed and felt blessed.

One phone call changed that stable feeling for me. One call that informed me that my dad was gone. And with that, eight months (actually 39 years and 3 months) of being Cristy disappeared. What was left was Cristy, but one that was different than before, and 2009 changed thenceforth.

So, I looked forward to 2010 with great anticipation, expecting to feel somehow fresh and new on January 1, maybe not as heavy. The truth was that I didn’t feel much different than I did on the day before, or that I did two weeks before. I have decided that 2009 was a life-altering year. There were good things that happened to me and mine in 2009–Matt and I made our marriage “official” by finally being able to live together (and living together is certainly life-altering!) and I moved to a new town to do so. I also lost a parent in 2009, and nothing can prepare you for the change that takes place from that event. I will never be the same person I was because he is gone — I do not have a earthly father anymore and as such, I am altered irrevocably.

Was it a bad year? No, it wasn’t a bad year, but it will forever be linked in my mind with my dad’s death. As such, it will always be remembered as a bad year because I was forced to face the reality of losing someone I love. I am surviving, though, so I will continue to have hope and faith for the new year.