|Letter to a man I've never really met...|
November 23, 2003
If that seems too dispectful, I'm truly sorry but I do think we've known each other long enough now to be on a first name basis. (Yes, I've often wondered, if we had known each other on this world, what would you have asked to be called?)
I'm sure you're well aware of my long-lasting lament on how much I wish you were still around...even with all the bad press you've gotten over the years. Perhaps I'm simply seduced by the pictures of you as a young man or it's from the handful of dreams you've visited...we always have such delightful conversations in those strange dreams...you've a wonderful wicked way with words and are quite an elegant man.
Isn't if funny, you've been gone all this time and still, many things you were blamed for, continue on. All on their own, without any of your contribution. Puzzling to say the least.
It's always so easy to have an appointed BADGuy and looks like you were it. I would dearly love to have heard some of your side, your take on things. I'm dreadfully curious, I mean, did you really plan on having soooo many children and were you truly so impatient and short-tempered or simply overwhelmed? Someone with your interests and intelligence, did your career even begin to meet any of your needs? Oh, I understand you were quite a brilliant engineer but had a passion for art and music and books and style. Even your bemused indifference to your Church indicates that you may have at least thought for yourself or entertained some thinking of your own.
Perhaps I'm only projecting here, for whenever I look at the few photographs we have, I sense under that crisp, pressed and starched shirt beat the heart of a very romantic man...there's something in your eyes that speaks volumes to me...even when I allow for my own experiences gazing into eyes much like your own. Even the way your hands are folded in front of you hint of a restless, inquisitive nature...energy hardly controlled or contained.
Maybe it's all very true...all the charges of being a Bad Husband and even worse Father. Could it have been a simple case of a marriage that never should have been made much less kept together for many tragedy filled years? Were you simply a product/victim of your age and time...Men were to make money, LOTS of it, as fast and as soon as possible and no matter what dizzy heights you climbed, it was never enough? Had you been fooled as many a man before and since, by a much-younger and seemingly innocent pretty face, only to awaken one day to know deep in your heart-of-hearts, that the two of you had not one thing in common and, as you'd been known to speak of on occasion, been chosen simply for your earning potential and lifestyle?
There really no way to know these things. Would you have saved your life if you had recklessly and fearlessly walked away ...and perhaps, saved your family? I can't help but wonder. Would it all been easier if your parents hadn't lived quite so long and gotten quite so old? Oh, there's so many things I'd like to ask...and I hardly know the bare essentials of your life...not enough to even fill out University Alumni questionaires or answer your grandchildren's questions. Did you like oranges and spice cake and PrimeRib, medium rare and old-fashioned ParkerHouse rolls? Jazz and Martinis with the best Vodka and French-cuff shirts? Hemingway and Cheever and Trollope and Dickens?
Here I sit, gazing at the family heirloom (one of the few that ever landed in our possession) century-old silver christening cup that was never used on our children...would that have angered you too or would you have graciously allowed an Episcopalian service along with a Protestant daughter-in-law?
This is silly I know, but if I'd had you over for a Birthday celebration, even once, I promise, we'd have excellent Beef served by lovely candle light on a table with the best placemats and napkins, wine with dinner and lots of conversation where no one would talk about EWTN or nuns or the immorality of this country and evil everywhere. Pretty clothes on the girls and women and laughter, oh yes, lots and lots and lots of laughter.
Happy Birthday! Wherever and however you may be!