Dear Ma and Pa,
It is Sunday afternoon in the first week of autumn in South Carolina, and I am thinking of you and the visits we used to have on Sundays. I can see you both standing on the tiny concrete block that was your back door stoop while you waved goodbye to me as I honked my car horn and drove up the little hill away from the small dingy house that badly needed a fresh coat of white paint. Why can I see the paint peeling now but never noticed it when you lived there? I guess it wasn’t important to any of us then.
When I think of you, I always picture the moment I am leaving rather than the hours I spent talking and laughing and eating and drinking the sweet iced tea you made yourself, Ma. You actually boiled the tea bags and made a dark strong tea which I probably wouldn’t have liked as much if you hadn’t sweetened it with several cups of Dixie’s Pure Cane Sugar. I wish I had known then to tell you how good it was, but that kind of tea was all I knew. We never bought sweet tea anywhere else, thanks to yours. I’m telling you now it was delicious. I miss it as I miss you this sleepy Sunday afternoon.
We have two dogs, Pa. Spike and Charly. Charly is a little brindle colored dog with white trim that reminds me of your old bird dog Scooter. I remember you used to try to make Scooter talk to you so he would howl and howl when you told him to speak, and then you would laugh and laugh and interpret for me. Scooter had the same thing to say every time. Howww are youuuuu…and then shake his big old head like he was laughing with us. Charly is equally talkative – but without any prompting from me and with an annoying sharp bark which I have now learned to translate as get up and go get me my food, lazy woman. You would get a kick out of this little dog, Pa, but you wouldn’t, Ma. You were the only person on either side of my family that never loved a dog. I knew it. We all knew it, but I didn’t have the good common sense to ask why. I wish I had asked.
I got married this year in April on the 24th., three days after my seventieth birthday. I know you always wanted me to get married and had almost given up hope. The one tiny little hiccup, Ma, was that I married a woman rather than a man. Now I’m sure that doesn’t shock you…not really if you stop to think about it. Just think of the fun we could have talking about my wife who reminds me so much of you. I skipped a generation backwards and married a woman who has an awesome sense of fun and humor just like you had, Ma. And she’s beautiful and smart but the best part is she loves me back. Imagine the gossip you would have to tell Vivian McCune. Don’t worry – she won’t be surprised, either.
I’m thinking of both of you this afternoon, and I just wanted to tell you how much I love you. I’m sorry I hurt you by moving so far away from my Texas roots. I never meant to stay gone, truly I didn’t. Talking to you every Sunday afternoon on the phone just wasn’t the same as being together and sharing family stories, was it? I missed too much time with you in my adult life, but I owe you for much of my happiness in my childhood. You both were a gift of love that I try to pass on to my family and friends today.
A Sunday afternoon letter isn’t even as good as a phone call, but how I wish I’d saved the ones you wrote me faithfully every Monday, Ma. It’s old blue Monday, you’d say every week…
Just remember I still love you both with all my heart and think of you more and more as the years go by and the times change more than the seasons. I will write more later.