My Darling Children,
I’ll start the way I’ve seen so many times in movies: If you are reading this, it is because I am dead.
My precious, precious kiddos, you are learning the hard way that not all “forevers” are the same. Trust me. This is not how I saw my forever-after playing out. If there was any way to forestall my departure from this world, I would have done everything in my power to stay with you as long as possible. The Fates had another plan for me.
As I write this, I ache knowing how frightened you are, and how much you must be hurting. Even a simple thing, like what tomorrow will be like, must seem a terrible prospect. All I can tell you is this: As you read these words, imagine me holding you close, just as I am imagining myself with my arms around you as I write this letter. I’m telling you, whomever doubts time-travel never had someone to love so completely as I love my children. Believe me when I say I am there with you, even now.
Do you remember, when you were young, when something made you cry, and after you dried your tears, I’d stand you up and tell you to go splash some water on your face and then get on with the rest of your day? Well, here I am, telling you again to do just that.
However, this time my onward-and-upward speech includes assuring you that you are not, and will not be all alone. Your aunt will be there for you every step of the way. She is now your legal guardian. But…you must start thinking of her from here on out as your parent. Yes, you will be 18 in just a few years and allowed to be your own person, but I ask you to never stop thinking of your aunt, and yes, even your uncle, as your primary family. Your cousins, I know, will be more than happy to share them with you.
Yeah, so, your uncle. I know, I know. A real horse’s ass. But you have to admit, a hell of a painter. At least he’s done very well in that regard. It gives him quite the undeserved ego, of course, given all his shortcomings, but, there it is. Again, forever-afters are very different from one person to the next, and your’s now includes your uncle.
Don’t worry about how you will cope, because your aunt has got it all figured out. She is always the clever one. You will learn she as all sorts of schemes in place and contingency plans should her schemes not work out, not the least of which is half-ownership of every single one of your uncle’s artworks, including the right to reproduce, etc., etc. The way she sees it, he can get up to whatever misery he wants. As long as she’s got a hold of the purse strings, everyone else will be able to land on their feet. It’s all about the money for her, so you’ll be OK.
Now, having laid out what your immediate future will look like, I will finally, at long last, tell you about your past; about your father. I apologize that I was so tight lipped about him. It wasn’t that I didn’t want you to know anything about him. He was a wonderful, wonderful person. It’s just that, whenever I start to talk about him, I choke up. The only solace I have leaving the two of you now, is that I will get to see him again sooner than later.
As I said, your father was wonderful. Kind, even-tempered, generous and reliable. Handsome, too! At least, I though so. And funny! He never took anything in life too seriously. He was an only child and never talked about his parents. I think he had been brought up Morman, or maybe Amish. Something like that. He never clarified, but I knew it was some sort of strict, cloistered community. My guess is he was cast out when he left the life and therefore chose never to speak of it again.
Anyway, he worked his whole life like a dog for barely above minimum wage, and when he was between jobs, he’d take care of me and you kids as if being a house-husband was all he ever wanted to be in life. His loss was, and still is, a shock and an unbearable heartbreak. I truly wish you got to know him.
I met him when I was working as a concierge at a big resort on the coast, saving my nickels and dimes so I could go to college to major in Hospitality Management. We met during a freak snow storm. Everyone at the resort was expecting the storm, of course, but being right on the coast, nobody was prepared for snow, never mind several inches of it! Resort staff was frantic trying to work through all the demands our guests were making, plus figuring out how to manage requests from employees to leave so they could get home before they got stuck at work, and absences because others couldn’t get to work. It was a mad house.
To make matters worse, other travelers and locals stranded by the storm started walking in looking for a place to get out of the weather and warm up. We had people camping out in the lobbies, hallways and in the restaurants. The kitchens were down to the last of whatever food was available and bartenders shut down the bars before things got unruly. I was running around like a crazy lady doing whatever I could. It was a mess.
At one point, a man approached me, and with a smile, asked if he could be of any help. Things being such as they were, I said sure, and literally handed him a mop from the janitor’s closet and asked him to clean the restrooms. Can you believe me! How rude!
Anyway, you probably guessed the man I sent off with a mop was your father. As things started to settle down, he found me out again and asked if I needed anything else. I asked him to follow me. Thinking I was going to give him another task, he followed me to the employee lounge where we had our own stash of food and drink. I thanked him (finally!) and insisted he partake. He said he would, but only if I would take a break too, and join him.
We sat there and talked and talked. Hours went by, but I didn’t care. I think I was already in love! I remember him saying to me, “I came here after my truck got stuck because, as I got closer, I heard this fantastic Latin music coming from the club and thought, that sounds like a good place to get out of the snow!” I said something about how much he must be regretting that decision, given the work I made him do, and he said, “It will end up being the best decision I’ve ever made if you agree to meet me again.”
Coming from anyone else, I would have recoiled at such a cheesy pick up line. But, your father was such a genuinely nice person, his sincerity was unmistakable. I remember the look on his face. Happy and hopeful. And, so, here I am. His wife, then his widow, and forever your mother. I never did go to college. Your father had plans to be his own boss, so I was too busy getting him set up in business. It didn’t pan out, then you two came along. Life was pretty rough for us for a while there, but I have no regrets about marrying him, my darlings. None, whatsoever.
I’m not sure what my point is, except maybe this: Somewhere between going with the flow and planning everything down to the second on the clock, actual life plays out. And it’s not an even-Steven, middle of the road deal, either. You’ll find, as you live and grow, that sometimes drafting careful plans makes everything come about just as it should, and sometimes not being bothered with the details and letting the chips fall where they may makes for some of the most wonderful stuff of life.
Like I used to say, which always made both of you giggle, if someone says to you, “Don’t throw that egg,” remember to take a moment before you respond to think. What the hell that even is supposed to mean?
Seems like I have a new habit: Leave off writing for a while and then jump in full force and make up for lost time with 3 weeks of prompts. The point of inspiration for this post was the “don’t throw that egg.” So weird! I had to figure out how to work with it. The prompts are bolded (did a lot of editing and formatting on my phone. I’m sure there are oddities as a result!)