When I was in Maryland at my mother’s house, helping her get it ready to go on the market (anyone want a 40 year old, 7 bedroom barn on 1.6 acres?), we came upon stacks of carbon copies of letters my father wrote, filed by year by his reliable and remarkable secretary, Phyllis. Looking at the thousands of letters, it’s hard to figure how he actually made any money at work  because these letters are 98% personal and not the least bit relevant to insurance and bonding. (Also hard to understand how Phyllis hasn’t written a tell-all book about all of us spoiled children, knowing what she knows about us.) I couldn’t help but think that it’s too bad the guy never had a blog or made it onto Twitter. He could have been a contender.

Incentive to write my children real letters--not just emails and texts

We happened to flip through the 1979-81 folders, which for me were especially rich since that was when I went off to college and then Ireland for a semester.

Dear Maureen,

I don’t know why, but you got a check from SC which I herewith enclose to you. I hope this letter finds you in good health and a state of mental tranquility. I hope, while you are in Ireland, you learn how to write in big, clear letters instead of trying to scrunch one million words into one piece of tissue paper. We love you and we miss you.

Love,

my crazy Dad

Besides the family letters, which are such short and sweet (and even when they’re not sweet, incredibly accurate) slices of life, he sent letters to newspaper publishers, colleges his children were wait-listed at, writers he disagreed with, and local and national TV stations. I learned all sorts of good stuff, including that he wrote the college I attended when another sister didn’t get accepted there to tell them that though the sister who had already graduated from there and I (still a student there) were talented, that this one they had wait-listed was the most talented of his children. Well said! We always knew she was the favorite… How did he know she’d be the only one to graduate summa cum laude? The pride is as touching now as it was fierce  then.

 But my favorite letter is one he sent to the Washington D.C. CBS affiliate in regards to the local weatherman in 1979:

Dear Sir;

I don’t mind so much that G B is wrong from time to time, but his pompous attitude irks the living hell out of me. He doesn’t act like he is reporting the weather, he acts like he makes it. A little more humility would go a long way towards making B a real person rather than the pompous pain in the ass he appears to be.

Sincerely,

My funny Dad

It’s fun to let him have his say again. I hope I listened then; it feels so good to hear him now.

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