Tuesday, July 09, 2013
Last fall, my eldest (younger than me by about 3 years) half sister contacted me via Facebook with a question from Mother. Did I still collect post cards? I was stunned by the contact and by the question.
I had no idea Mother remembered something like that about me.
I was just in my teens when Mother kicked me out, sending me to live with Dad. At the time, I did not even understand what was going on and never dreamed that my life was forever changed. By her choice, there was no contact after that until I mailed her my graduation announcement. I did not know until after the ceremony that she was there! Dad was there and that is the only time I have ever seen my parents in the same room. She saw the back of his head and vanished! I've never seen anyone disappear so quickly! We exchanged letter for a very few months around high school graduation, but that was it.
No response to my college graduation announcement four years later. My consolation was that she at least knew I made it. (Maybe - my stepfather and sisters have sometimes hidden my mail if they think it will upset her, just as my aunt and gramma did.)
No response when I sent a card when gramma died two years later.
Nine years ago, Aunt Nancy died and I sent Mother a card offering my condolences on the passing of her younger sister. No response.
Dad died the year after that and I made sure his obit was published in the local paper. I know, from another relative, that she saw it because that relative sent me a card, but nothing from her. Not that I really expected it. There were bad feelings between them and, while I wanted her to know I had lost my dad, I also wanted her to know she did not need to fear running into him anywhere ever again.
The box of cards arrived last month. BF called me at work to tell me about it, not realizing the significance of the return address. I cut him off and said not to tell me any more. I had forgotten about that Facebook conversation and my brain was shot through by the thunderbolt news that Mother had mailed something to me. I had a tough time concentrating for the rest of the work day!
The box label has Mother's name but not her handwriting. I suspect the handwriting belongs to half sister #4, though I don't know. She was about 4-6 years old when I left and I've never seen her handwriting. For all I know, it could be her son's, a nephew I've never met. I stared at it for a long time.
Most of the cards were gramma's. I had forgotten that gramma got me started on my post card collection and I was amazed to see she categorized her cards just the way I did! Some of the cards were her dad's. Now I know what his handwriting looks like! Some are like cards today - slick and brightly colored. Others are black and white (circa 1930). Others are hand colored. Some have still-legible postmarks that predate WWI, some have still legible notes. I have found a couple of family members I've never known about - a real treasure. The greatest treasure is that I have the collection and the circumstances of how I got it. I saved the box label and put it with the cards. There is a short note to me (also not in Mother's handwriting) and, unlike the label, is script (not printed). Two of the post cards absolutely floored me. One is of Montreat, NC and the other is of a granite quarry in Vermont. I have been to both places and have that exact Vermont post card (my music teacher's brother lost his life there which is why I had the card, but that is another story). How odd that gramma and I would have both been to two such different places. Her cards of the Grand Canyon, of Hawaii, Alaska and California are amazing because they show how the places looked decades ago! Fun!
Anyway, I tossed and turned a few nights. Do I write a card? Yes, of course. What do I say? It took me a couple of weeks to think of just the right words. I wrote the card today and tried to do it in my best handwriting, hard to do because I was so nervous! I told her in the card that I knew that the card might upset her, though that is hardly my intention, but that I felt I had to say thank you. More than anything else, I was raised by her to write thank you notes and I wanted her to know, by receipt of this card that she did raise me right in that regard. I mentioned those two cards and how much I treasure the collection. I signed the card "love without end". She may not believe it, but it is true. She has no way to know that is how Dad signed letters at the end of his life when he was dying of prostate and bone cancer.
I dropped the envelope in the outgoing mail basket at work, shaking a little inside.
I hope. I hope to regain a majority of my family, to get to know my sisters and their children and, above all, I hope to have a chance to hug Mother for only the 3rd time in my life - one more hug before I lose the last member of my nucleus family.
Update: I went back to Facebook and let my sister know the card is in the mail. Her answer leads me to think that my youngest sister or my stepfather will pull the card before the mail gets to Mother. I have tears in my heart.