Friday, 25 June 2010

An Open Letter.


Our task for Writers' Group this month is to write an Open Letter to anyone we like - about anything we like. I have decided to write one to my parents, who both died in 1972. I thought I would share it with you.
Dear Mum and Dad, In the thirty-eight years since you died I have thought of you almost every day and have often thought of things I wish I had said to you when you were still alive.
We were never a demonstrative family; the odd kiss when we met or parted company; the praise when any of us did anything to make you proud (the praise was always muted). I have no doubt at all that you loved us but you never said so and nor did we. 'Stiff Upper Lip' was the family code of behaviour. Hugs and cuddles were for wimps - although I doubt that the word had been invented in those days.
So here are just a few of the things I wish I had said to you all those years ago.
Mum - each time I use your thimble I smile at the thought of your aversion to sewing. The thimble is far too small for me but i still use it because it reminds me of you. You had a real hatred of sewing, brought about by an inferiority complex of marrying into a family where all the girls were either tailoresses or milliners. And I want to say to you - nobody judged you on your sewing ability - forget it - you had plenty of other qualities which they lacked. Your beautiful singing voice for a start - I would often hear you singing when you were pegging washing out at the bottom of the garden. And your stoicism. I look back upon family crises and I know that it was you who was the strong one, you who got us through unscathed.
I like to think that I have inherited that stoicism to some extent, that whatever I am facing on the inside I like to show a strong front to the world
Dad - I think of you every day and thank you for instilling in me a love of Nature. I think of the hours we walked together when I was very young - hours when we identified every wild flower we passed, noted every bird and listened to its song, looked for nests in the banks and hedgerows - I do it still.
And your love of poetry. It was always easy to buy you a present - another poetry book. You would read them by the hour in the winter evenings - often reading them aloud. You could recite many of the old poems off by heart - The Jackdaw of Rheims, The Battle of Blenheim...
I have most of your poetry books still, your name written inside the front cover in your neat, spidery hand.
I still love the anemones which were your favourite, Mum. I used to buy them for you and I can still picture them on the dining table in the little crystal vase you had inherited. And if there were no anemones you would pick wallflowers from the garden instead - the scent of them now brings the picture of that dining room table into my head.
So much of what I am I owe to you both - and I thank you for it. It is a bit late in the day to tell you that I love you both dearly - but I daresay that if I had said it when you were alive you would have both been highly embarrassed. As I get older the memories of you both become stronger. I suppose that is how we live on - through the lives of our children. Rest easy - you were the best.

18 comments:

Totalfeckineejit said...

Beautiful, Weaver. Maybe we should all write such a letter, for better or worse.And what kind of letter would we receive!?

You'll be driving the bus soon.Oh, the power!

Bonnie said...

Deeply moving.

You wonder that the world can hold the weight of all the words unsaid ...

Derrick said...

Hello Weaver,

Bonnie's comment is so true. One wonders if we can only express ourselves like this when we know that the person(s) to whom it is directed won't see it, or may see it but we are safely removed by distance. That what we can say in writing we could never say out loud to the person's face. And if so, that is a great pity. We are certainly getting better at expressing our feelings compared to "back then" but maybe, for many, some of the inhibition lingers still?

Heather said...

Oh Pat - your letter is so beautiful and very poignant. My mother loved anemones too and my father taught me so much about nature. We might have been a little more demonstrative than your family but that is how things were back then.

Studio Sylvia said...

What wonderful moments in time you recall. Such a moving acknowledgement of your parents legacy.

PurestGreen said...

So beautiful. What a wonderful idea. I wrote letters to all my family members when I was around 20 and made a book out of it. Everyone got a copy for Christmas. It was wonderful to see everyone sitting around reading them.

This was wonderfully written. I loved "in your neat, spidery hand."

jeannette said...

That's a touching letter, Weaver:) But they probably would be embarrassed, living in the stoic age, because your love for them is splattered all over the page - it's good you could tell them in this way:)

Gwei Mui said...

Very moving

Elizabeth said...

Well done, Weaver!
Yes it was a bit 'not done' to be overly emotional in public.
Loved your mother and the sewing. So lovely that you think of her when you use the thimble.
I remember my mother saying ( when she was in her 70's)......"I miss my mother more and more".
I don't miss Mum exactly but I think of her very often indeed and wear her wedding ring.

Jane Moxey said...

What a very moving read, Weaver.

I still wonder what that British stiff upper lip thing was/is all about! I have noticed, since my day in the UK, that Brits now do that social nuns kisses business on two cheeks - a la francais! I remember being required to have a nice firm handshake and that kissing in public of any kind would have been totally unacceptable! British people are very demonstrative with their pets however, which is always so fascinating.

Pondside said...

What a lovely letter, Weaver. My parents are in their 80's and I've started to write cards to them with the little bits that are still unsaid. In reality, there isn't a lot that was unsaid. My mother's mother died at 54, to young to have seen her daughter as a mother or, as my mother said 'so quickly that I didn't have a chance to say all the things I wanted to say'. Consequently my mother was very demonstrative and none of us ever left the house without a kiss and a whispered 'I love you'.......but there are still one or two things I could let them know.

rallentanda said...

What a lovely tribute to your parents.Very interesting comments about demonstrative vs non d behaviour. Cultural thing.I cringe at the constant 'I love you' nowadays.In my family it was only said on special occasions thus it was sincere and actually meant something.My grandmother told me she loved me when I was 30 at my second wedding. I remember thinking 'what is wrong with you? Of course I know you love me.' She had probably been reading some literature advising that you are supposed to say. As far as I
am concerned actions speak louder than words.I knew I was loved and didn't need to be told.

acornmoon said...

Your words are a wonderful and moving tribute.

I am not sure about heaven but I do believe that our spirit lives on, if only within the ones we love. You carry around your love of nature, poetry and music which is, in a way, the spirit of your parents.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thank you - I was touched by your comments.

BT said...

That is so beautiful Weaver. The love you held for your parents shines through your letter. Anemones were my mother's favourite too. I don't see them much anymore. They both gave you gifts didn't they? A thought provoking post.

Tramp said...

A moving letter. I have some things (letters, books, cutlery...) that bring back memories of Mum and Dad but I also feel their presence when out walking. Even at these times I feel it as a presence rather than an exchange of words...Tramp

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I felt as though I were peeking in a window. Lovely letter to your parents.

Golden West said...

What a heartfelt letter, Weaver. I'm sure you made them proud in so many ways.