We recently received this online submission from a woman who told us that her letter writing experience:
“…helped me focus my thoughts… the thought that my kids would know that I was at peace with my life and loved them gave me comfort. Maybe my letter will help others as they gather their own thoughts while writing their own letters.”
Dear Eric and Annie,
If you are reading this, there is good and bad news. First, I am assuming that I am dead, but the good news is that you are still around to be able to read this. I wanted to write to the two of you because I figure that there is probably more than a 50/50% chance that I will get coronavirus and not have time to say last good-byes. I know I could have recorded a video, but I am not that good at expressing my feelings out loud. However, since I am better putting words on paper, I wanted you both to know what was in my heart. And, typically me, I had to research the topic of writing a “last good-bye letter” to help me focus on what I wanted to say and what I did not want to leave left unsaid!
In the last analysis, I think it is important to say that I have lived a good and full life, I regret nothing, and I would not have changed a thing (even the problems with your dad) because I would always have wanted to have the two of you and the grandkids in my life!! Even if Covid-19 or something else does “get” me, the other good news is that it cannot ever take away the fact that the two of you and the grandkids have always been the light of my life!
I know the two of you have never had a lot in common in terms of interests and lifestyles, but after I am gone, you will still have each other. I hope and pray that the two of you will be there for each other in the coming years in the little and important ways that are based on your common experiences and common blood. I want to know that you guys will be there for Thanksgiving dinner, Christmas, and birthdays with Will, Nate, and Jana to celebrate with them for me. I know that my memory will get dim for the grandkids, and I also have the selfish wish that the two of you both help keep my memory alive for them. That thought gives me a lot of comfort!
Despite my best efforts, I know that I was not always the kind of mother the two of you wanted. Rather than being the warm, outgoing, and intuitively empathetic mother of your dreams, I was a literal, practical/pragmatic, and introverted mother with a Type-A personality. I will always remember, Annie, when you complained as a tween that I was NOT a “June Cleaver” type of mother who would hoover over you when you were sick offering orange juice and putting a solicitous hand on your brow. And Eric, around that same time period, you noted that I did not attend your high school wrestling meets. I realized that the fact that I was there for you in more pragmatic terms had been more important in my mind than to you. However, it is true that I made every effort to be sure I was there for both of you to get you off to school and be waiting for you after school in spite of work, your father’s work schedule, and everything else I was juggling. Similarly, I made non-traditional career choices so that I could be that Cub Scout and Brownie leader for the two of you. Just as importantly I was able to ensure that you were able to do things like being active in wrestling or be editor on the high school year book as you got older while I was also juggling working for the Dallas Morning News, going to graduate school myself, filling in because of your father’s work and travel schedule, and raising Jair and Joel for a year in addition to the regular cooking and cleaning. In my mind, I demonstrated my concrete physical (but prosaic) love for the two of you. Now that you are adults, it is my hope that you are better understand that real love manifested in my actions as you grew up despite any of my imperfections!
I am glad that I was able to live a life of love and joy and particularly that we were all able to move to Virginia for these last 5+ years together. First there was that caravan across country in August with a pregnant daughter, two little kids, two restless dogs, and a son and son-in-law in temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Then there were the opportunities to go to the movies and out to eat with you, Eric. And Annie, I enjoyed the quiet opportunities to talk in the car about life and the kids when we were going someplace or fixing dinner. Last but not least, I was glad to be a real part of Will, Nate, and Jana’s childhood. I will always remember the way Will would pitch in to help with yard work when he was waiting for the school bus at my house and our long discussions about politics and social issues. There were the hugs from my “snuggle bunny” Nate, reading together, and working on LEGO kits. And of course, there was Jana’s infectious laugh, coloring picture after picture with her, and watching her improvisational dancing. Then too, there were the times we would go to Sunday Park and other times when we would try out science, cooking, and art projects from Mentos in pop bottles to making bath bombs. I even enjoyed the times when I would sit down with the kids to listen to them read stories by Dr. Suess, Mo Willems, and more or practice math on Dreambox or ABCYA. Not to be forgotten, there were the times watching Louie balance a balloon on his back or race around my backyard playing soccer with a beach ball or Lucy leaping feet into the air to catch tennis balls I would throw from the deck.
As we approach the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, I have done everything I can think of to prepare for my death and ease your paths because I love you both. On an emotional note, I will miss not being there to cook a hot meal and help with babysitting the dogs and/or the grandkids. Life is not always fair, and I will not be there to lend the two of you my moral support in the future. As you both know, I have gone through rocky passages from getting laid off by the Dallas Morning News to getting divorced, but rocky patches like those made it possible for me to make positive changes that proved constructive for me in the long run. Apart from dealing with my death, I do not know what challenges life will bring each of you in the future, but I want you to know that my love and support will still be there for the two of you. I just hope and pray that you will come to terms with whatever those challenges may be and that you will be able to continue to grow from any of life’s painful experiences.
On a more pragmatic note (because after all I am that prosaic and pragmatic person who wants to protect you even now from life’s blows and disruptions), you know that I wrote a will and set up a trust because it is important for me to protect and provide for the two of you. Of course, I also started providing for Will, Nate, and Jana’s college funds. There is a living will, and we have talked about my wishes back in Florida. I prepaid the Neptune Society for my cremation, but I am not sure how pragmatic or convenient that decision is now that we are all living in Virginia. So, if you decide to do something different, that is fine too. As for a funeral or memorial service, I will leave that decision up to you, particularly since my circle of friends has narrowed and scattered since I retired. If there is still social distancing because of Covid-19, maybe a zoom session a la Johnny Mack’s graduation party will be the practical option. I say all this because taking care of these details is one of the last ways that I have of showing my ever-present love and support for the two of you.
So, I just wanted to say that when all is said and done, I love both of you and the grandkids forever and ever. Never ever forget that.