August 4th, 2013 by Jan

Ken just came back from visiting his brother in Seattle. Ron lives in Arizona, but has a big RV and he and his wife Kathy are enjoying the joys of retirement traveling around the states in it.

They had been in Valentine, NE last week where the Parker boys grew up and the family ranch is. Ron handed over a big bag of “stuff” he gleaned for Ken from his parents home as they work to clear it out. The bag was full of letters and photos. Every letter and every postcard, Ken and I ever wrote to Johnny and Tomi in the last 30 years was in this bag.

We spent Saturday reading them.

A lot of memories surfaced as we read the news we chose to share with Ken’s parents and in my case the in-laws.

Surprising was the number of letters. No one could say we didn’t keep in touch. We sent cards on every birthday, mothers and fathers day as well as Valentine’s Day.  Most cards started with, “Sorry this is late.”  And everyday letters began with, “Sorry I haven’t written in a while, but I have a few minutes now, so here’s the news of our day.”

All letters were peppered with weather reports, usually, “It is still raining, but the garden likes it.”

We spoke of how the truck broke down again, and the roof needs fixing, and Ken is working in his shop on a boat, tai chi sword or fixing something for someone. Jan is traveling, teaching tai chi, quilting or working in the garden.

We would describe what it was like to live in Colorado, Oregon and BC. We wrote when we went skiing, hiking, camping or kayaking. Our life was so very different from theirs.  An invitation for them to come visit was included in many letters. We were very good with thank you letters for the birthday money and Christmas sweaters.

We found the letters telling of when our cat Tinkerbell died and when we had Laska and Lucy put down. I wrote when I started going to AA.

There were letters apologizing for not being able to send the cheque that would pay back the money they loaned us. But we promised we would be sure to get it to them next month, as Ken or I was starting a new job soon, and it looked promising.

We wrote how we found a nice house in the mountains and if the bank approves us, we could maybe get it with a 12% loan! (We did not get that house!)

Postcards were sent from Hawaii, the Cayman Islands, and several from where ever I was teaching on the road.

Ken was surprised that I wrote his parents so often. I was touched by the way in every letter Ken wrote how he told his dad how much he admired him. Ken is a great letter writer and would usually share a story of a time spent with his dad and then give thanks for being raised so well by such a strong and steady man. Ken was generous with saying, “I love you.”

Ken also wrote to them about meeting me. These letters were especially nice to read.

Ken and I don’t save letters and I doubt we will save these. But I will say,  it was interesting to read about the last 30 years as they were lived by we who lived it. The letters were memories of the moment, of the people we were, and those that were with us. News that seemed so hard or so trivial at the time, turn out to be the life we lived.

With love and kisses,

Jan and Ken

One thought on “Readletterday

  1. nancy walker

    Powerful stuff! My mum kept all my letters to her and even though I felt so distant from her for all those years, I continually and frequently wrote to her and she had saved every one. That act of saving all my letters said more than she could say herself.


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