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Sunday, August 21, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 2/283 Seabrook, Texas (1307 Bellgrove - Letter from Mom to Charlotte)

Dear Charlotte,

Just thought I'd drop a line or two, to prove I do write once in a while.

I think Teresa is coming up there this coming weekend.

I'm going to group therapy every Monday night and the head doctor has put me on a medication like you're taking (it's safe). I feel a lot better taking it. I don't have those weird mood changes. Kind of levels me out. He thinks I have a chemical imbalance of something. And I sure can see a difference. Been taking it right, too. (You couldn't get high if you took the whole thing!).

Hope you'll take Teresa to the health place so she can get her birth certificate (or get it from Jay). And she's so excited about her new car she's getting. I'm excited for her.

P.S. I've tried to call you several times. Line busy or no answer.



"You couldn't get high if you took the whole thing!" Which Mom did. The bottle was empty.

This is the last of anything Mom wrote to anyone. It is written on stationary with a little girl on the front wearing a bonnet, prairie dress and patchwork apron. It is raining and her umbrella has a patch sewn on it. The girl is pulling a small cart behind her filled with bread, vegetables and daisies. I imagine she'll eat the daisies, smoke the bread, and throw the vegetables at her enemies.

Conversations With the Dead: 6/24/82 Seabrook, Texas (Letter from Mom to Charlotte)

Charlotte & Mike,

Here's your picture of the "crew" and one of David.

We're going to get our blood test Saturday and will be married at 7:00 PM, 7th month, 7th day, at Bay Area Park, in the "Oriental Gardens". It'll just be family and maybe Sally and Dan.

Let me hear.



I can't remember if Charlotte came to the wedding. I'll find out but I'm guessing not.

Mom tossed the bouquet over her shoulder and it came in my direction. I let it fall into a small pond. No effort at all. Scotty gave me a disparaging look and said, "Teresa..." He was right. I should have made an attempt.

Conversations With the Dead: 1982 Letter from Charlotte to Nanny

Dear Nanny & Wendy,

Here's school pictures of the kids. Thought you might like to have them. They really did a lousy job on L's. Not centered.

Got a letter from Teresa today, says everything is fine. Coming down for Christmas. Mother's mad because I want her a week and because Teresa wants to come down for a week including Christmas Eve. She says we're ganging up on her. She's so paranoid. Why can't we have normal parents like most kids?! Just the thought of her makes me mad.

Guess I'll go for now.

Love you,
Charlotte & Gang


I can't remember if I spent Christmas in Fort Worth with Charlotte or not. I probably did. Sadly it was our mother's last Christmas. Maybe she knew this somehow.

Conversations With the Dead: 4/19/82 Indio, California (from David)

Dear Mom,

How are you Im fine todays the 19th I got 27 days left until I get out Gonna be nice to see the world again really nice. Not much going on in here just eating sleeping and watching TV Thank you for the money and everything else Well not much to say be good



Dear Charlotte,

How are you. I'm fine today's the 19th I got 17 days left until I get out. Gonna be nice to see the world again really nice. I thought Id write mom and let you mail it to her OK. Not much going on in here just eating slepping and watching TV havent heard from you what happend mom hasent written eather well any way 27 days left really 25 because todays over and my realease day I go home at 5:30 in the morning so its Cool Well see ya



I don't usually get upset about the letters but these really hurt. Again, I typed them with their original mistakes. David dropped out of school in either ninth or tenth grade. He, Dad and Charlotte always struggled with spelling, but David was also dyslexic and along with the schizophrenia and medication or the lack thereof...

I don't know if he's writing from jail or a mental health ward. Could be either. I have nothing else from him.

We spent a few months together once I moved in with Mom in September, 1980 then I never saw him again.

They are buried side by side in Rosehill Cemetary, Fort Worth, Texas.

Conversations With the Dead: 4/12/82 Indio, California (from David)

Dear Mom,

Hi Mom how are you I'm fine. Good to hear from you Say hi to Treasa and your Boy friend. Mom I dont even know how old you are. Well mom I spent about 2 years in the dessert and mountains living cooking it is nice water falls all kinds of animals really nice. up in Town I worked part time and later full time I found 2 gold Bracelets got $100 for each one Bought 2 Buckles and really had fun. Well got go By



I typed the letter as it was written in pencil, mistakes and all. He had just turned twenty-four. I don't know if he was taking his medication for Schizophrenia. Doubtful.

Two years in the dessert. He makes it sound like a vacation. I hope he was happy. I can't remember ever seeing him truly sad except when you and Dad divorced. That was the turning point in his mental health. He was never the same.

Conversations With the Dead: 8/13/80 Seabrook, Texas (1307 Bellgrove)

Dear Teresa,

You may still be gone with your girlfriend but thought I'd write anyway. Wanted to send you these pictures of Brandy. Red built her a scratching post with a wide top so she can have her food and water on it and the dogs can't get to it. It's got a hole in the top so she can get up there easily. She just loves it! And you won't believe this, but Charles and Puddin' both play with her now. In fact, Puddin' has gotten so playful lately. She just romps and plays with Charles all the time, and she never did that before. I think she's just calmed down a lot and decided she's "at home".

Scotty's doing real good. He finally told Liz that they'd have to break it off, and last weekend he and Bob went up to Lake Whitney for a NA & AA convention (a lot of young people go) and he really had a good time. He's been making a lot of meetings with Bob and it sure has helped him. His attitude is a lot better. Nancy and her mother were promoting this Liz thing but it didn't work. When you get time, why don't you write him? It would make him feel real good. Elizabeth's husband is going to fix my car and then Scotty wants to buy it from me because Red is going to get me one. Elizabeth goes on vacation in about a week, so I'll have it fixed by then. I've been using Bob's old truck when I need it.

Red got me a washer and dryer the other day. When I told him I went to the laundromat every week for seventeen years with Jay, he nearly croaked, and the next day, I had a washer and dryer! Isn't he something?

Sure thought we might be in trouble with hurricane Allen, but it missed us. Sure am glad too! Just get the house fixed up and have a hurricane!

Charlotte called me last week to talk to me about Nanny. Sure sounds to me like she had a stroke. Really worries me. so I called her and gave her my phone number. She was real nice. I'm going to work at it, and see if we can't get things "right" again. Maybe it's time. It would just kill me if anything happened to her and we still were on bad terms. Just not right.

What did everyone think of you taking a plane back? I bet Charlene thought you were "brave". What did Jan and Charlotte think? I can't wait until Christmas so you can come down. That will really be neat.

Well, guess this is all for now. Write when you can and fill me in. We all love you.

Mother, Red, Scotty, Puddin', Charles, Brandy & Sam


Brandy is my tortoiseshell Manx cat. One day Red will dip the dogs for fleas, then he will start to dip Brandy and I will question the safety of putting a small cat in dog dip. He'll look at me like I'm stupid and dip the cat anyway. Later that night she will wake me up with a paw on my arm, as if to let me know she is in some kind of trouble. She will hide under my bed and give birth. We hadn't known she was pregnant. The babies were stillborn.

Since the return address on this letter is Red's address and the only place you could possibly put a washer and dryer, he did not buy it for you, Mother. He bought it for you to wash his socks and underwear.

You're calling Dad "Jay", like you did when ya'll were married. I think this means that you are feeling the same security you felt with him now, that you see a long future ahead of you with Red. You hope you can make seventeen plus years with Red, too. You won't, despite choosing a 7/7 wedding date at 7:00 PM in 1982. I'm sad because I wanted you to be happy, but I never could imagine you with any other man as long as you were with Dad, and I knew Red didn't love you, despite what he would tell us later at Jack Rowe Funeral Home as Charlotte, not Red, foot the bill for your funeral.

Nanny is a little over a year away from her own death. She will call for you when it's time.

It is difficult to close this letter because it is the last from you. It's like saying goodbye again. It feels a bit like when I turned forty-six last year and we stopped sharing ages. I am traveling without you. These are years I never watched you live, ages you never made.

The next two posts will be letters from David to both you and Charlotte. There will be a letter from Charlotte to Nanny. The last two posts will be a note from you to Charlotte giving her the date/time of your wedding to Red, then a final letter to Charlotte, the last of your letters to anyone. You will tell her all about the "safe" medication Dr. Faust put you on to help you with mood swings. Seven months later the medication will prove itself "unsafe".

Conversations With the Dead: 6/18/80 Seabrook, Texas (Nasa Rd I)

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter Saturday but been so busy, just now answering. Found me a dining room set for $50 (six chairs with it, too) so all I need now is a chair for the living room. And a TV. Doc's sister's TV went out so he gave her his and is keeping the one he got me. But I'll have one by the time you get here. He can get me one anytime.

I'm "babysitting" for Red's dog, Puddin'. She's a little Yorkshire Terrier and as cute as a bug. In fact, Charles is madly in love with her, but she won't give him the time of day! We gave both of them a bath the other night and I laughed my head off at Charles. Have you seen some birds do their courting dance? Well, Charles was acting like that and I nearly cracked up! I've never seen him act that way before. It was so cute.

I think I'm going to take off the Saturday I come and get you so I can leave early and get there in time to go to Carswell and pick up some stuff before they close. Everything's about half price there, including cigarettes. So I may be there about 10:00 AM. So be ready and we'll boogy!

Well honey, guess this is all for now. I'm washing and I need to go downstairs and put them in the dryer. (We have an elevator here so we don't have to use the stairs! We're on the 2nd floor). Be sweet and let me hear. And Red and Scotty both said Hi.

Love you gobs,


Oh goody, another man to tell me Hi.

Your description of the dogs' relationship reminds me of the dynamic between you and Red. Only you're the needy Mr. Charles, and Red is the aloof (in time) Puddin'. I wish it weren't so.

You won't write to me again from this address. So much for independence. So much for being on the right track.

Conversations With the Dead: 6/11/80 Seabrook, Texas (Nasa Rd I)

Dear Teresa,

Well, I finally got moved in! Can't believe it. Still don't have a dining room set or a chair for the living room but I'll have them before you get here. Need a lot of little odds and ends too, that I'll get slowly but surely. It'll be fun fixing it like I want it. Red and Scotty (his son) moved me, poor guys. I'm on the second floor so they had fun!

I think I moved three blocks from work just in time. The old gray goose is acting strange and there's no way I can afford any work done on it right now. But the grocery store and everything is within walking distance thank goodness. I think it's brake shoes or something to do with the brakes.

Mr. Charles doesn't know what to think. And he's so spoiled after being at Sally's and having someone around all the time. I don't know what I'm going to do with him. He throws a fit every time I leave.

How's Granny doing now? She may end up moving in with you all if she gets too bad.

Well honey, guess this is all my news. Just wanted you to know I got moved in and give you the address. Since I don't have a phone now, if you ever need to call me, call me at work anytime between 1:00 PM and 6:00 PM during the week, and from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM on Saturdays.

Write me soon and I love you gobs!



Dad will put Granny in a home soon. She will live outlive you by almost a decade. You were right.

Conversations With the Dead: 6/5/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter and I'm real glad Charlene said Yes to the dates. I'm real excited about it too. Just three more days until I can move in. I have all my furniture except for a dining room set and a living room chair, but I can get them next. And there will be a lot of little things you can help me pick out after you get here. So hang in there. It's just three weeks until you can come.

I hate to hear that about Granny. But honey, don't feel too bad towards your dad. The truth is, at this point, he's doing good to even take care of himself much less anyone else.

You remember me telling you about a guy I've dated named Red? (That's 'cause he's redheaded!). Well, he's got an eighteen year old son that's come to live with him for a while from Miami. His name is Scotty and he's redheaded too! He's not a bad looking kid, but his hair's too durn long. Red's about as ugly on the outside as anyone can get, but he sure is a nice, sensitive guy. And he loves animals. His folks used to raise dogs and he said he was so used to always sleeping with a dog that when he went into the service and they started issuing him his uniforms and all, he kept waiting for them to issue him his dog! he's a real cut-up. You'll like him.

I've been sick for over a week now with a real bad cold. I sure have felt bad. But I haven't missed any work. Can't afford to! I really do like my job, too, and my boss. You'll like her. Her name's Elizabeth. I can hardly wait till you get here. We'll go down to Galveston and go through the Bishop's Palace and to the beach and to Astroworld. And we can go through Johnson Space Center. We'll find plenty to do.

Well, guess this is all for now. Be sweet and let me hear.

I love you gobs!



Lots of exclamation points in this letter. This is the last one from Sally and Dan's house. There will only be two letters sent from the new apartment preceding my visit.

Then there will be one more letter to me after that. It will be mailed from Red's address which will be your last.

Conversations With the Dead: 5/27/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter and I figured you were busy finishing up at school. Won't be but a few days till you'll be through.

I've got all my furniture (it's all paid for too!) except for dining room chairs and a living room chair but I'll have those by the time you come down. But I need a part for my record player and I may not have it yet when you get here, so go ahead and bring your stereo. And your records. I don't have any yet. But if you ever run across a record called "Green Onions" by Floyd Cramer, or an album with it on it, grab it! I'll pay you back. I've been trying to find it forever.

Got twelve more days before I can move into the apartment. I know a guy named Red that's going to help me move. You'll probably meet him while you're here. He's ugly as a mud fence, but just as nice as he can be. Kind of nice like Phil. But we're just good friends. I don't want any "he" for a long time. But he takes me out to eat oysters and to meetings.

Have you ever been to Astroworld? I want us to go while you're here. And to the beach in Galveston. I can hardly wait.

Well, guess that's all for now. I'm going to spend this Friday night at Toni's and babysit the girls for Micki (she's manager like I was) so she can go to her daughter's graduation in Arizona. So write me when you can and maybe while you're here you and I can have a picture made at Olan Mills. Love you a bunch.



Well here we go again. Red. Another AA guy. The fact that you mention him at all in this letter then elaborate is bad. Bad.

You may not realize it yet, but Red is not nice like Phil. He's a completely different animal. And though you call him your friend he will, in the end, be your worst enemy. He will be your ending.

And that question you asked about who you love most? The answer was Red. The man who will soon marry you "out of pity". Then leave you in the dust.

Conversations With the Dead: 5/17/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Don't know what I'm going to do with you, Bug, if you don't start writing me. It's been two weeks since I wrote you last and I haven't heard a word. How come?

I've been busy since I got back, trying to get some furniture bought. I got a black and white TV, a stereo, two end tables, a coffee table and a bedroom suite. Not bad, huh? All I need now is a dinette set, a couch and chair.

Of course I'll need odds and ends like lamps and stuff, but I should have all of it by the time you get here. And it'll all be paid for and mine, that's the good part. No payments every month. I got some real bargains, too. What I don't have when you get here you can help me pick out. That'll be fun. I've got three more weeks before I get to move in. I can hardly wait. Sally's kids are about to drive me nuts! They're so spoiled. Just brats, period. But it won't be long now. That's about the time you get out of school, isn't it?

Well, guess that's really all my news for now. Just working and going to meetings and getting things ready to move. Please write soon and let me know how you are, okay?



It doesn't feel like you need me as a daughter as much as a friend. Now the tables are turned and you are the one hurting to be closer. There's no man in your life to distract you.

In a few years you will list questions in a spiral notebook regarding how you've lived your life, what your dreams are, who and what are most important. One of the questions will be: Who do I love most?

The answer won't be me. The answer won't be any of your children.

Conversations With the Dead: 5/8/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Well, made it safe and sound with no car trouble. Went back and got my car, got a motel room and left the next morning. Real proud of the "ole gray goose".

Paid down on my apartment Monday and I can move in June 7th. It's the one three blocks from my job. I think I'm going to be able to have all my furniture bought and paid for by the time I move in. And I'll have three or four more weeks to get it all ready before you get here. It sure will be nice. I can hardly wait to move it.

Took a picture of Charles tonight to send you. I thought I'd sent you one. His hair still will grow more, about two or three more inches. And it'll grow down over his eyes.

My boss is real nice. She gave me a vacuum cleaner today. And when I get my furniture, her daughter's boyfriend is going to move it for me.

Well, guess that's all my news. I bought some pyrex cookware today. Trying to slowly get all I'll need for the apartment together. Write me when you can and be sweet.



I don't know where you traveled to in the Ole Gray Goose, maybe to see me? I remember that car well.

I am happy to read of your excitement about the new apartment, but I feel sad that Salvation Army is your version of "nice". After Dad, you would never own a new car or house. Your clothes would usually come from garage sales, discount stores or resale shops like Baubles & Beads and Nearly New. I guess it doesn't matter as long as you were happy, but it makes me wonder if you set the bar way too low in every area of your life. What did you believe you deserved? Not nearly enough.

Conversations With the Dead: 4/11/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Just had to drop you a quick line to tell you the news. I got a new job and it's a whole lot better! It's at Pilgrim cleaners and I work in the front, tagging the clothes brought in, getting clothes for people, etc. It pays $3.50/hr and it's not hard work at all. I get off at 6:00 PM and Elizabeth (the boss) said that while you're here in July you can come to work with my anytime you want to. I work half a day on Saturday, but while you're here I won't have to.

We have a TV and radio there for when it's slow, so you wouldn't just be staring at the walls, and it'd just be you and me there except from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM, when she'd be there. Summer months are kind of slow for cleaners, so it'll be a good time to learn my job. I'm real tickled about it.

And Elizabeth is real nice. I had talked to her a few weeks ago about it and she didn't need anyone right then, but said she'd call if she did. And I'm glad, because it was getting slow where I worked and I wasn't making as much in tips. So it worked out just perfect. Just about the time I was going to quit that other job, she called and wanted me to go to work. So you won't have to be by yourself at night.

Well honey, that's all really. Just wanted you to know the good news. Let me hear and be sweet.



I still remember the smell of dry cleaning solvent.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: April 4, 1980, Seabrook, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter and really, I'm glad Feisty is out of his misery. It's really cruel to let a dog live like that.

I took Charlie to the vet and he's fine except for allergies (like his momma, I guess!).

I'll get to move into my apartment June 1st so I'll be all set up by the time you come down. It's an all adult complex and it's next to a lake. It has a pool so we'll both get us a suntan. (They consider a 15 year old an adult). So I'll drive up and get you July 1st 'cause I'll be off that day, and the next. So be ready! I hope to buy my own furniture too.

I got my contact lenses and I sure do like them. I tried to wear them back in '59 but they make them a lot better now.

I've started going to the Catholic church again. I went to mass Easter, and even bought me an Easter dress! I'm so grateful that everything is going like it is. God's been good to me.

Have you ever written David? I haven't heard anymore from him. Don't know if he's still there or not. Let me know if you hear.

I'm going on a diet this week. Sally lost fifteen pounds in one month! I'm going to start going to the spa with her, and work out, too. I gained too much weight at Toni's.

Well honey, guess this is all for now. Be sweet and let me hear. This picture was taken one night when I went over to a friend's house for hamburgers.

Love you gobs!


Feisty was Granny's Chihuahua. He was 21 years old. Poor thing was going blind, had arthritis. We laughed about it, saying Granny was so obsessed with that dog she probably put him in a bag and kept his corpse under her bed. In his last few years he was anything but feisty.

The Catholic church you're attending is St. Paul in Nassau Bay. I will be confirmed there in 2003. So will your first two grandchildren not long after me. I will attend one service there with you, a Christmas Eve midnight mass. Back then I had nothing against the religion. Times change.

David is most likely in a commune or living in the streets. The only letters I have from him are dated 1982.

The photo of you with friends was lost I guess. I can't find it anywhere.

Conversations With the Dead: 5/24/80 Seabrook, Texas

Dear Charlene & Pat,

Hope you don't mind my weird paper. I'm at work and it was all I could find handy. I guess Teresa told you I'm working at a cleaners, and it's slow today because it's Memorial Day weekend. but that's okay with me.

I needed to ask you all a favor, about Teresa staying with me for the month of July. Because of getting my apartment and my furniture, I need to work all the hours I can, and I work on Saturday from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM (While she's here, I won't work Saturdays). So in order not to have to take off work to come and get her, and not to be coming up t here over the July 4th weekend, could I come get her Saturday June 28th after I get off work? Then I could bring her back either Saturday July 26th or August 2nd, whichever is agreeable to you. It would really be nice if she could stay until August 2nd though, because I'd have my VA check then for the trip back up there (Hate to travel without a little extra money). So whatever you all say just let me know.

I have all my furniture now (and paid for! So glad I didn't rent it like I started to and have those payments), except for dining room chairs and a living room chair. Even got a TV. I'll be moving in June 7th so I'll be all settled when Teresa comes down. I just work three blocks from the apartment and since I won't have a phone for a while, I can give you my work number. I work from 1:00 - 6:00 pm weekdays, and 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM on Saturday. But like I said, I won't work Saturday while she's here.

Well, guess that's all for now. Write back and let me know what's agreeable.



It must feel awful to have to negotiate time with your own child. You're Charlene's aunt. You're forty-two to her thirty-something. But you're probably so thrilled to be so close to independence and freedom that you aren't focusing on the little aggravations. I wouldn't be either.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 3/28/80, Seabrook, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Got your other letter finally. And I got the first one you wrote Tuesday night when I went to Toni's for a meeting. I'd put in a change of address card, but it still went there for some reason.

Honey, it's okay about you not wanting to come down, not remembering Sally and them, and not having traveled by yourself before. I just wish you'd told me that's what it was, because I would have understood. Remember how I told you I felt because we were always around someone else when we were together? I wouldn't have gotten half as upset if I'd known that was how you felt. So it's okay. Don't worry about it. It'll be better in July. And I'll have a phone by then, so there won't be any problem about me working nights. If you need me, all you'll have to do is pick up the phone. It'll all work out. I may even take a few days off, if I can. Play sick or something. I'm really looking forward to it. And I'll drive up and get you, and take you home. Okay? Mr. Charles will be glad to see you, too. You'll love him to death. He's so sweet and loving. And I hope I can get an apartment where there's a pool so you can go swimming when you want to.

Well, guess this is all for now. I can't believe Charlotte has done it again! I think she's nuts. So be sweet, and I love you gobs too.



Charlotte must be pregnant again, and she will do it once more after this baby is born which will make four. She is only twenty-three.

You will find a job at a Pilgrims cleaners and will move into an apartment complex about a block away. There will be a pool with a view of Galveston Bay. About thirty-one years into the future, your grandson (my second child) whom you will never meet, will move into these same apartments, renamed Encore. His name is Justin and he will turn twenty-two next week. He will have a degree in music this time next year. He writes songs and plays guitar, loves to fish, makes me laugh. You would love him. He would love you.

A part of me is glad my four children never knew you because they were spared the pain of losing you, of watching you self-destruct. But I wish you could see them, be as proud of them as I am. My little Victoria turned six last month. She wishes she had a grandmother. She asks me how you died. I tell her what I told my older two when they were little, that you took too many vitamins, then that you didn't take care of yourself. This must confuse her somewhat. When she is older I will explain suicide and she will read these letters to get to know you.

This letter is dated 3/28. Your youngest grandchild's birthday. He turned four this year. He is autistic. I can't decide how this would make you feel, what you would say to me as a comfort or if you would view Julian as a gift for having a unique perception of the world. His circumstances are both heartbreaking and breathtaking. Depends on the day, on my strength. But always I am crazy in love with him, the center of his universe, just as you were the center of mine.

Conversations With the Dead: 3/15/80 Seabrook, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Well, I got moved into Sally's and I've been out job hunting today. I probably will find one this week. I've got my own room here at Sally's and I've got it fixed with my whatnots, etc. Mr. Charles likes it here too. They have two little puppies, but they stay outside all the time and in the garage at night. I've got all the rest of my stuff stored in the garage.

When do you get out for Easter and for how long? A round trip ticket costs $48 if you come and go back after 7:30 PM (That's with Southwest Airlines. They'll have to take you to Dallas Love Field to get that flight. And you'll come in here at Hobby Airport). When I find out when you can come, I'll get the exact time you leave, and let you know, and send you the money. It'd be best if you had Charlene call and make a reservation for you, a few days before you come. It just takes 50 minutes to get here. It'll be a new experience for you. And I'll be at the airport to pick you up. Let me know when you can come, as soon as you can. If you want, you can call me some night, and let me know. Sally's number is (713)--------. And her address is ---------. Let me know soon.

Have you heard from David or have you written him? I sent him a birthday card, but I haven't gotten a letter.

Well honey, that's all my news. Let me hear something soon. I love you.



Reading this, I have a horrible feeling you won't be there when I land.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 2/18/80 & 2/25/80, Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Hadn't heard from you in a while, and I couldn't remember if I answered your last letter or not. I think I did, but I'm not sure. I usually try to do it as soon as I get yours. Anyway, I did write to David and got a letter back this past week. I'm so glad he answered, and that he hadn't left yet. From the way it sounds, he may stay there a while. I hope so. It sounds like a religious household which is what Sally and Dan were doing when I stayed with them years ago. A bunch of Christians (or several) live together and put all their earnings together to run the household. And there's a man who is head of the house and makes all the decisions. It is Biblical, and the Church of the Redeemer does it here in Houston on a lot bigger scale. They have a bunch of different households. They live like one big family. So maybe this is how God is answering my prayers for David because I've been praying that God would lead him to someone who could guide and direct him. So I for one am glad he's there. It will help him to make it later on. David's a whole lot like me, in that he's always had a big spiritual need, and yet he never could do anything halfway. He had to be all bad, or all good. He couldn't be a hypocrite. Which is good in a way. He'll find his balance some day.

I've really been sick this past week. That's why my writing is so bad. I've had a horrible cold and it's going down in my chest. Sally's mother is visiting her from Dallas so I couldn't go out there this weekend, so I just got me a motel room, so I could rest and have a little peace and quiet. I've been at the house for four months now and I really need the quiet. It's nice to go out to Sally's, but she does have three teenagers and a six year old and it's not ever quiet. So it's worth the money. I got me a bucket of chicken, and brought my books, and I'm just lying around reading and watching TV. I just hope I feel better next week.

Well, I've got Charlie now, and I'm going to keep him. Phil's drinking again and the people where he was staying made him leave, so he and Charlie had been living in the truck. So he called me one night last week, and he'd driven the durn truck off into a bayou, and the wrecker driver said if he'd gone 100 feet more he'd of drowned for sure. Anyway, they had Charlie in the truck when they towed it off, so I called them and asked them to keep him for me until the next morning. Then I went and got him and Toni is letting me keep him at the house. He's housebroken, and he stays up in my room during the day. But the poor little thing's hair was all matted up and so pitiful looking, so I took him and got him clipped. But Phil's still drunk and hasn't even missed the dog, and since he seems determined to kill himself, I'm not going to let him have Charlie back. (I'm trying to write this, half lying down, so it looks awful, but hope you can read it anyway!).

Well, I guess that's all my news for now. Hope everything's okay with you. Be sure and write, and let me know. I'm going to get me an apartment as soon as possible, so I'll have a place to go on the weekends. And I'll nave it all fixed up by this summer when you come down. I love you honey. Be sure and write.



2/25/80, Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Got your letter and since I'm not working today, thought I'd better write. I was supposed to be off yesterday too, but I worked so we could get the house and yard cleaned up real good. It's like raising a house full of kids, even though they're grown women. Have to stay on their case all the time.

This guy I know is working on my car this weekend. He's putting a new starter and carburetor in it. After I get some tires, and get my tailpipe fixed, it ought to be in good shape. So maybe after that, I can plan a trip up to see you over a weekend. We wouldn't have much time, but it beats nothing. I'll try to come up before school is out. Okay?

Yes, be sure and write David. He needs to know that we love him and miss him. I'm glad he's where he is though, and hope he stays there. I think it's good for him. I sure would like to see him though. It's been so long.

I've got my room all fixed up to suit me now that I got all of Pat's stuff packed and out of it. I'm the only one who has a room by myself. It looks real good now.

I finally got over my cold I had last weekend. I sure had felt bad.

I went to the Church of the Redeemer today. I just love that church. I'm going to start going every Sunday since I'm off on the weekends. It's been so long since I've really felt free enough to really serve God. There's always been some man in the picture to hold me back or I was messed up, and wouldn't go and be a hypocrite. I'm free at last, to do the things I've longed to do for so long.

We haven't had any snow down here, and this past week has been just like summertime. I hope it keeps it up.

Well honey, guess that's all my news. I'm still liking my job, and after I get my car paid off the 1st of March I ought to be able to save some money. I still plan on getting an apartment before you come down this summer. I ought to be able to save $600 a month starting in April. Be sweet and let me hear from you. I love you gobs!



This is the last letter you will write from the Dupont address and the job you say God led you to, the job you seem to like so much. You'll never explain why you left.

Conversations With the Dead: 2/4/80, Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Hi baby. Got your letter, but I've been so darn busy, you wouldn't believe! Besides all the normal stuff, we got some new girls in, and we're having an inspection Tuesday, so we've been trying to get everything cleaned up and ready (and we had the house exterminated too, and had to get everything out of the kitchen, etc.). And I've had a bunch of paperwork to catch up on. So this will be short, 'cause I'm having to work this weekend to get everything done. I'll be off Monday, and maybe one more day later in the week.

I go back to the doctor Monday to get the rest of my tests done. I don't have a spot on my thyroid or my lung. I think that doctor I went to before is nuts. This is a good doctor, and a good hospital, and it's free. It's a woman doctor and I like that too. So I feel a lot better about it.

I'm having to pack up all of Pat's stuff so I can move into her room and that's a full time job in itself. But I'm going to write David tonight, and hope he's still there. I sure hope he is, and will write me back.

Hope you're doing okay. I'm very proud of you, ya know. And I love you gobs too. Sorry this is short. Maybe I can do better next time.

Love ya,


It's funny, but the last part of this letter sounds like what you might say to me today, the "this is short" being our very brief time together. Eighteen years was all we had, yet it feels longer. Maybe we can both do better "next time". Or maybe we can both keep doing better right now. You are still here. I can feel you, like a ghost who isn't finished. Maybe my understanding of our eighteen years works as a midwife, delivering us both into a shared state of grace, a greater peace, the heaven you would finally describe as "a state of mind".

Conversations With the Dead: 1/24/80 Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Got your letter and thought I'd write while I wasn't too busy because after today I will be! Pat took off for two weeks today and I'm not sure that she'll be back. Anyway, I'm now the manager (and I'll get a salary, too) for two weeks or forever, I don't know which. But I can use the extra money. I love Pat, and I really hope she comes back, for her sake, but I have a feeling she won't. God seems determined to have me manage this house so I guess I'd better give in. And it does pay $6,000 a year, and with my checks, I'd be making about $10,000 a year. So, we'll see.

Yes, I love Charlotte, but I have never understood her. But in the future I just won't put myself in a position to be put down. If I come, I'll come in my car, and will probably just go by for a few minutes. I suppose she can't help how she feels, but until she gets over it, I really don't need it. She doesn't believe that I really care, and I don't feel like trying to convince her. She'll get over it some day. In the meantime, I'll keep on getting better.

I'm happy that you're proud of me, but it really is God, not me. I'd have been down for the count a long time ago if He hadn't of helped me. But I really believe I'm on my way this time. I''m different somehow. I can't explain it, but I am. When ever I do leave here, I may try to get a job as an apartment manager of a complex. They furnish your apartment free, and pay a small salary. But that's a little far off to worry about. Just thinking about a few things that I might do. I'm still doing it a day at a time. And I've been sober three months now.

I need you to get David's last address from your daddy and send it to me. He may have already left but I want to write him anyway, if I can. And do me another favor. Call Blanche for me (451-0794) and tell her I'd already mailed her letter before I got the manager job so you can tell her for me. She's been real sweet, and she's proud of me too (makes me feel good, anyway). She and I were close, when I was young. She can tell you a lot about when I was a child. She remembers more than I do about it.

Well honey, I guess that's all for now. Have to get ready for a meeting. Keep up the good work, and congratulations on "handling men", ha.



I'm not sure how much $10,000 was over thirty years ago, but it reads like $1,000,000 in your handwriting. I can feel your pride, though your comment about your Aunt Blanche being proud made me sad, your voice blushing like a little girl who needs the approval of the world.

Charlotte is difficult to understand. She is a warrior at heart. She will fight for you, but if you cross her, or if she perceives even the slightest betrayal, she will excommunicate you from her kingdom. All these years later, her kingdom has shriveled and her heart is broken. Her heart is sick, weakened literally with thickened walls; they call this cardiomyopathy. She was only trying to protect herself, but walls are walls - they shut out the harm, but they also shut out the good. She struggles to forgive, to let things go.

In 1994 she will try to save another alcoholic, and to me she will write of this familiar pain:

"How many years did we struggle in vain with mom? We thought if we helped her, maybe if we loved her more... Perhaps if we punished her for some of the things she did by not speaking to her it would be a deterrent. Nothing helped. No one can do it but them. It seems no matter how far away we get, or how much we learn, our family and unfinished business keeps finding us."

Before you leave us for good she will forgive you enough to come back into your life for a while. And before she leaves this world she will have forgiven you completely. Somehow, I think you will sense this breath of forgiveness from wherever you are; maybe you will no longer need it, but she will.

You say I should credit God rather than you, that if He hadn't helped you'd be "down for the count" a long time ago. So you are saying that when you do good, it is God, and when you do bad, it is only a speck called Beverly. No wonder you have low self-esteem. And no wonder you fall so easily; there is always someone else to count on since you are too "weak".

What I would tell you now if you were here, is that you deserve all the credit for where you are. You got yourself help, earned the position of manager, and you have changed because deep down you can feel a sense of accomplishment, despite crediting a fairy tale vapor, but you are afraid of the weight of it all, the responsibility of being you. I would tell you that this is what we all live for, the feeling of movement, of knowing deep down that we worked hard to earn what makes us proud. You are not small and weak. You were never small or weak. You were just afraid. We are all afraid. It takes courage to move when we are afraid. It takes courage to accept that we move our own feet, choose our own paths, and engage whatever consequences on our own. That rush of freedom is what we live for, feeling our wings, surveying all we overcame of the world below.

You chose to fly again.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 1/16/80 Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

How's your head? I felt so bad about bumping your head! I know it hurt. I'm so damn clumsy anymore.

It was good to see you honey, but I wish we could have had a chance to talk more. I always feel so uncomfortable when someone is always around that I can't really relax and be myself. Does it do you like that? Even if it's Charlotte and Mike. I guess it's because I feel that Charlotte is really resentful at me, and I can't relax much, too. I understand how she feels, but it still bothers me. But no matter who it is, I'd feel better if we could be alone more. But we will, this summer. I plan to come up there again before then, in the car. We'll get a motel room, and be able to get out and do some things. I want to discuss some things that we talked about while I was there. I'm very upset about what I heard. I really don't like it at all. But you and I need to talk about it alone, okay?

My plane ride back wasn't bad at all. I sat where I couldn't see out the window this time! Ha.

I'll be off Thursday and Friday, and I'm going out to Sally and Dan's. I have to get my Army ID renewed (so I can go to the base, etc.) and she's going to take me to get it finished. It's out by her house. And as soon as I get it I can go to get that physical I was supposed to get months ago. (They said I had a spot on my thyroid gland and on my lung). I can get it done free if I have my card. Slowly but surely I'm getting everything taken care of. I'm kind of proud of myself. And it's getting better all the time.

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. Wanted you to know I was home safe and sound. I love you very much, and please hang in there. And please when things bug you, tell me. It helps to get it off your chest. I'm forty years old and I'm just now finding out how helpful it is to talk about things that bother you. Write me soon.

Love you!

I guess it feels like the world conspiring against us right now - eyes everywhere, going through my mail to read your letters. I don't know why. It's almost over, though. Charlene will receive some devastating news, just the platform I need to get away.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Conversation With the Dead: 1/7/80 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

You are an absolute nut! I just love your drawings! I showed them to everyone and it just cracked them up.

I did write Nanny and Windy after Xmas and thanked her. I don't know if she'll write back or not, but it's okay if she doesn't.

Glad you had such a good Xmas. I'm happy for you. And real glad you got to go to Charlotte's. I sure wish I could see all of you. I'm working on something now, and if it works out I may get up there next Sunday. So tell Pat and Charlene, and keep Sunday free. I'm pretty sure I can arrange it, but I won't know for sure until tomorrow when Pat gets back from her days off. I'll just have that one day, but it sure beats nothing! I'll call you and let you know for sure next Saturday. If you're not there, I'll tell Charlene. Okay? I'll have to come back Sunday night but we'll have most of the day. I bought me a car the other day (a '72 Chevy) but I'm not going to try and drive it up there this time. And I'll have it paid off in March so by April, I ought to be able to drive up there for a few days. (I won't have enough money to come until April). I just don't want to chance driving up there, until I drive it a little more. And it's such a long drive. If I get to come, I'll take a plane. It just takes thirty minutes to get there, and I can get Blanche to pick me up. I've never ridden a plane before! I hope I don't die of fright! So keep Sunday open, and I'll call Saturday morning and let you know for sure.

Charlie doesn't have heart worms anymore. We finally got rid of them. I sure miss the little stinker. I've been here two and a half months now. I sure do like it though. But by next summer I may move back to Fort Worth, so I can be close to you all. We'll see. At any rate, we'll have our month together this summer. So don't worry about that.

What did you mean about Jennifer giving your daddy a hard time? Does he get to see her often?

Guess what happened two days after I got the car? I had a wreck! This damn Mexican ran out in front of me trying to cross a four lane street in one whack, and I threw on my breaks and swerved to the right, but there wasn't any way I could keep from hitting him. Anyway, it didn't even hurt my car, except for a little scratch on the left front fender, but it just tore his car all to hell! Busted his radiator and everything. He had to be towed off. That cop said he thought "somebody up there likes you". Isn't that something? But now I'll have to get liability insurance, which I wasn't going to bother with, but that's okay. I'm just grateful my car wasn't torn up.

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. I sure hope I can work something out with Pat. But I'm pretty sure I can. So hopefully I'll see you next Sunday. I love you gobs and gobs and GOBS!


Jennifer, my half sister from Dad's marriage to Patty. I haven't seen her in twenty-two years now.

I don't know what sort of "hard time" I was referring to, but I know she stopped wanting to see Dad and it broke his heart. He just doesn't know how to reach out, connect. It's awkward and I'm sure Jennifer felt it, even though she's only five. Children have keen antennae.

There is a torn-off scrap of paper in this letter. Charlene had been reading your letters without my knowledge. Somehow I found out and left her a little note, "Stop reading my letters, you bitch!"

See you soon, Mom.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 12/31/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter this morning and I hope you had a good Xmas and that you got everything you wanted. And I'm glad you're going to go over to Charlotte's. It's good for you all to be able to be together. You need that, and she does too. She was like a second mother to you, when you were a baby. And with David gone, you all need to be together, to keep a sense of family. Seems like we're spread out all over the place. and even if Charlotte is grown and married, she needs family too. I think that's why she goes to Nanny's a lot. and you don't take a guild trip from anyone. You're always thinking of other people, and it's about time you thought of Teresa. And I mean that. Don't you ever feel guilty about a damn thing!

I sure wish I could get David's address. Tell your daddy to be sure and let me have it, when he gets it. I sure would like to hear from him. It's been so long.

Your poor daddy! Seems like he just can't win, doesn't it. I'm just glad he wasn't hurt. That's something anyway.

You'll never guess who I got a letter from. Betty! I nearly fainted. She never writes letters. But I had written her, and I really didn't expect an answer, just wanted her to know I was doing okay. She was real glad that I'm here, and said she and Dorothy may come down to see me. I hope they can. And I hope to get my car real soon and I plan to come up there and see you as soon as I can. She said for you and me to be sure and come see her when I come up. So we will. and by this summer I'll have something figured out where we can spend our month together. So don't worry about it. But we'll get together before then, ad least over a weekend. And I can hardly wait! I miss you so. God will work it out for us. Just hang in there, okay?

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. Pat's been off sick for several days and I've been awful busy, but I still love working here. It's good for me. Pray that God will show me when the right time to leave comes. Tell Charlotte Hi, and write soon. I love you, very much.



I can't remember what I got for Christmas, unless it was the Christmas I got the stereo for which I paid half. Uncle Pat thought it would be a good lesson in working for the things I want. Can't argue, I guess.

I don't remember what I was guilt-tripping about but your words are applicable even now. I will go spend some time with Charlotte and she will call you to discuss my future. My life is about to change dramatically for the better.

I don't know where David is but we'll both see him soon.

I don't remember what happened to Dad. Maybe he wrecked his Mustang.

I'll pray, until many years later. I don't understand what prayer is except listening to your deepest self. For all the praying you did, you never learned to listen.

Conversations With the Dead: 12/27/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Hope you had a wonderful Xmas. I sure did. We had a big Xmas dinner, and its so family-like here at the house. I wish I could have been there too, but since I couldn't this helped a lot to be here. But hopefully, I'll get my car the 1st and will be able to come up soon. I sure miss you. But I love working here. It's hectic, but I love working with the girls. And I even got an Xmas card and some money from Nanny. That was a surprise. I had sent her a card, but I really didn't expect to hear from her. And be sure and let me know what all you got for Xmas.

Phil's in the hospital. He was drinking and he drove off into a ditch full of water and almost drowned. He was in intensive care for a couple of days. Bless his heart. I hope he learns something from this. He damn near died. Pray for him. He's such a good person. I don't know if his truck is ruined or not. I got a girlfriend in AA to go get Charlie and take care of him until Phil gets out of the hospital.

Just keep on working on your algebra. You'll make it. And I hope you work at learning about homemaking. I didn't and I wish I had. I know you'll do good.

How's your daddy doing? Does he like his new car? I hope you understand honey, that you really are better off where you are. Your daddy does love you very much, but he has a lot of problems and he realized that you'd be better off at Charlene's. So don't ever be hurt at him. He did the best thing.

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. Write me, and let me know about your Xmas. I love you gobs.



It's sad about Phil, and that you had to spend Christmas in a halfway house. But at least you tasted "family", even if you couldn't be with your own. You're in a good place. I guess we're both in halfway houses.

You're right about dad doing what was best for me. It's just difficult to grasp when you're 14. Parents are supposed to have their shit together, at least one of them. He loves his Mustang, though, and plays Crystal Gayle, Neil Diamond, and Glen Campbell cassette tapes when he drives. He will soon marry "Hog Woman", but I will never once visit their house until 1989.

I'll pass algebra. You were right, I made it. Homemaking? Not so much, not back then at least. I couldn't even sew on a button! I'll figure it out though. We survive everything but death.

Conversations With the Dead: 12/19/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

My writing will probably look funny because I just did my nails and they're still wet.

I went out to Sally and Dan's on my days off last week (you remember them don't you?) and I'll go out there again this week. She's helping me make some Xmas stockings for all the girls here. I just couldn't afford to buy them all something but they'll like these. They each have their name on them, etc. I sure hope you got your Xmas card in time to spend your money on something you wanted. I wish I could have sent more and that I could have sent Charlotte some, but I just didn't have it. I'm having to really cut it close, if I get to get that car, because I just have my check to live on, so..... Maybe I'll have a little money to spend by the time I get to come up there. And I hope that's not too far off!

Things are working out real good for me. I went over to the apartment yesterday and got a few linens and dishes and my books and whatnots, for when I get an apartment. There was plenty for Phil and I both. I'll have to buy more, but it'll be a start anyway. He's going to move back to Fort Worth he says, so I wanted to get it before he left. I didn't get all of it, but I just wanted enough to be able to start. He's very unhappy with me because I won't come back. He's drinking again and he still doesn't understand that that's one of the reasons. Mainly because he doesn't want to. Maybe he can take that chance, but I can't. I've had enough. But he has to put the blame on someone, so it might as well be me. He'll get over it. I sure miss Charlie tho. But I'll get me a dog, when I get settled. We have too many animals around here now. Toni (the boss) has a little toy poodle, and we have a big Persian named BK in the house, and a solid black one that stays outside named Serenity. So I'll have to wait.

Well honey, I guess this is all for now. Write soon, and be sweet. I love you, and thanks for the picture.



You'll get Charlie back.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 11/30/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter yesterday. And as far as algebra is concerned, I'd be lost! But after all, "C" is average, so that's not so bad. Math was always my worst subject anyway.

Well, I got me a job, and it's right next door, so I don't have to ride the bus and all that jazz. I work for a Camper manufacturing company and all I do is answer the phone, and a little typing, taking orders and a little filing. I just work from 10 t0 4, so that's neat. With my check, and just paying $100 a month for room and board (I was paying $200 but as assistant manager they knock $100 off) I can live on that, because they furnish a lot of stuff like deodorant, etc. And I really need to work with sick alcoholics. This is helping me more than anything. But I'm like you. I sure hate not being able to be with you this Christmas. But we WILL make it up this summer. And by then I know I'll be 100% better. But I do want to see you so bad. But I should be able to get a car soon now that I'm working so I can at least make it some weekend. It's silly to try it without a car to get around in while I'm there. I think my boss over at the house knows someone who will sell me one and let me pay it out. So just hang in there, and PRAY!

We had a big Thanksgiving. We had open house, and we cooked for three days to get ready for it (and you know how I hate to cook!). I'm already dreading Christmas.

Yes, Al-a-Teen is really good for kids of alcoholics. It's really hard on them. I can say that, because I was raised in an alcoholic home, and I know how it was for me. You knew I guess that Granddaddy Scott was one, bless his heart. I actually hated him for 27 years, because I didn't understand. He was really a good man, he was just sick, but I didn't understand until I went through it myself.

The American Medical Association says it is a disease, and it is. We are sick mentally, physically and spiritually. It's an allergy of the body, coupled with a compulsion of the mind. We can't be cured, but we can get the disease arrested, just like TB or diabetes. We have a daily reprieve, depending on our spiritual condition. That's why we try to live only a day at a time. After all, that's all we have anyway. We can't do anything about the past, and when tomorrow gets here, it'll be today. We can plan, but leave the results up to God.

The first three steps in our AA program are: 1. Admitted we were powerless over alcohol and our lives had become unmanageable, 2. Came to believe that Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, 3. Turned our will and our lives over to the care of God, as we understand Him. And then there are nine more steps, and we try to use them in all our affairs. It's a way of life, and the principles are exactly the ones I lived by, those four years I was sober. Some of our pet sayings are: "Let go and let God", "Easy does it", and "One day at a time". But people make it in this program, that never would make it in church.

Well I guess I had better close and get to work. Let me hear from you, and be sweet. I love you, and I'm VERY proud of you.


P.S. If you ever need to get hold of me by phone, call me at area code (713) 741-3355 (the house), person to person. At work it's (713) 741-2936.


If I didn't know better, I'd think you're reading over my shoulder.

I vaguely remember you hating your father for his alcoholism. So you understand how I feel. I don't want to go through it myself to know how YOU feel. I'll just try to empathize from here.

You typed this letter. All but the postscript and your "Mother" is typed. It's strange not to see your "T's" with their diagonal crosses, your big loops and circles for dots above the "I's".

I'm glad you are in AA. I want to understand. And I'm tempted to call those phone numbers, thirty-two years into the future, just to see if you will answer. Person to person. That's what these letters are. I visit these instead of the grave. You are here, a sprinkling of your thoughts to paper. They really do transcend time.

I just swept up some broken glass. My four year-old autistic son broke a candle. I thought of you as I swept, wondering what you would think of my life. I love him so much, even if I don't understand so much of his behavior. Like with you, I just dismiss the lack of understanding, step over it like a body in the way. Love transcends all of it, the distance, the gravity, time and death. Maybe you should have renamed God, called him Love instead. Love has a lot more power.

Julian just called me into his room to look out the window. His speech is so awful but I understood "sky" and "dreams come true". He's remembering the song from Pinnochio, the "If you wish upon a star..." The sun is out but he is thinking of evening stars and wooden puppets who dream of becoming human. I wonder why.

Conversations With the Dead: 11/19/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Sorry I've waited to write, but we have really been busy around here the last few days. Several sick people came in, etc. But I was so glad to get your letter, and the picture is beautiful! I wish for my birthday I could get one enlarged. (To fit that 5 x 7 frame I have your other ones in). It's really a good picture of you. Everyone here made over it. (We have nine women here now, including Pat, the manager).

Thank goodness you have a teacher you like for algebra! (ha).

Well, they've made me assistant manager here, which means I help Pat out running things, and I'm in charge on her two days off. This helps me, to be able to help other people, and even when I go to work I can still do it. But I haven't really made up my mind if I'll go to work, or go to school. It's possible that I could go to school through the VA, and they pay you to go. But we'll see. I'm just leaving it to God, to point me in the right direction. I don't want anything except what HE wants anymore. It's really helped me to be here. The director of the house (Toni) is a real good Christian woman. She was a drug addict and alcoholic for seventeen years and she really knows what she's doing. She's been straight now for six years.

I'll always care for Phil, but we can't stay together. I want to be his friend, and always will if he's willing. But my sobriety has to come first. That's the only way I can make it. I'm not good for anyone, until I get myself straight, and the only way I can do that is to put God, and the AA program first. I hope you understand. God knows how much I love you, and Charlotte and David, and I pray for all of you every day. I know I'm not much help to you, but I do know HE will take care of you, and guide you. And I'm so grateful for that. I miss seeing you all so much, but I just have to wait, and see how things work out. And it will, I have no doubts, because I know I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what HE wants. It may take a little time, but I didn't get this way overnight, and I won't get things right overnight.

Well, sweetie, I have to go now. We are going to have a meeting. Be sweet and please write me. Tell Charlotte to send me some pictures or else! I love you, very much.

(Mudder!) Rogene (<-- The girls were distracting me!)

You leave so much in God's hands. Could this have been the problem? Looking outside yourself? You once joked that, "The Devil made me do it." So the Devil was your left half and God was your right. Where were you? Again, it just makes me so angry that you invested all your faith in a fairy tale, spent your life letting a cartoon character drive. I wish I could have been there as an adult to warn you, but then I wonder if you would have listened, and if without your fairy tale you would have been worse off, more alone. I can't know.

Conversations With the Dead: Circa 1974, Greenville Texas

Dear Teresa,

Glad to get your letter, and glad Mac is fine.

The kittens have disappeared. There are some new kids in the neighborhood and we just hope they got them. They must have, for both of them to disappear, at the same time.

Not much news I guess. Like I told you when you were here, I was hoping David could stay with me when he leaves the hospital, and your daddy called me the other day and asked if I could take David. So as soon as I can get a place of my own he can come. I just wish he didn't have to stay there, to wait. But it can't be helped.

I got a letter from Charlotte the other day, and she said she had been pregnant, but she lost it. I sent her a birthday card and some money yesterday. Maybe they'll come back for a visit before long.

As soon as I get some of the pictures Nanny took while you were here, I'll send you some.

Well honey, I guess that's all for now. Be sweet and remember I love you. I sure do miss you.


This letter has no date on it, no envelope but it must have been written in August for you to be sending Charlotte a birthday card. She must be in Hawaii or wherever Necho was stationed to be far enough away to "come back for a visit". That would make it around 1974. I had spent several weeks in Greenville, Texas with you and Nanny while you recuperated there from Sonny. So you're writing from Greenville and more than likely, David is having to wait with us - me, Michelle, Dad and Patty, the evil redheaded stepmonster. David has body lice and will give it to me and Michelle. He will threaten Patty with numchucks. She will tell Dad he can't stay with us. I won't see him again until 1981.

The theme of this letter is lost kittens and children. Your son is mentally ill and in limbo, your youngest daughter has just left you again. Your eldest is too far away and even when near is so hard to reach. Charlotte is such a stone. How difficult for a mother to feel so helpless with three spiritual umbilical cords tangled in thick briars and across too many miles.

You will send me a photo of me and Nanny riding her lawnmower. We are both wearing halter tops, our shoulders are bare. We are smiling like idiots, her smile perhaps obligatory and for the camera, me because of the perfect summer, the smell of cut grass, you nearby and tomatoes ripe for picking. There is nowhere else I want to be.

I've been thinking that I'm too hard on you all these years later. But anger is a stage of grief and I didn't feel angry at all for the longest time. I missed you like a lover. I remember knowing I'd be seeing you when I was nine or ten, dressing in the bathroom, packing a suitcase. I looked in the mirror, my stomach a tumble of butterflies. I couldn't stand still, contain my joy. A deep sense of longing was established as the primary component of love. This would cause many problems later in life, a series of untouchable men who could not love.

There is a birthday card in the saved letters with a cartoon of a fat orange kitten surrounded by orange daisies, green eucalyptus and pink butterflies. In it you wrote:

I don't know when I'll be able to come up, but I do know I get a couple of days off for Christmas and am coming up then. As soon as I find out the exact days, I'll let you know. I'll stay with Doris and Granddaddy (or maybe Betty or Dorothy) and if it's okay with your daddy, maybe you can spend the night and we'll have our own little Christmas, okay? I'm sorry I couldn't get you a better present but by Christmas I'll have more money. I love you tho, very much. I'll call you.

Love, Mother

You wrote me a poem:

She was so tiny and so warm,
This jewel that to me was born,
Truly a gift from God above,
I thanked Him, my heart full of love.

Many hours of joy she gave,
A brightness in darkness she made,
And she's still a star in my eyes,
Brighter than all others in the sky.

I'm thankful for those few years,
When I could rock her or dry her tears,
And pray that God will help her know,
To me she's more priceless than silver or gold.

For Teresa
From Mother

I don't know if we ever had our own little Christmas, unless it was the one we spent with your Aunt Blanche and Uncle Joe. Betty and Dorothy are lifelong friends. Betty will one day sing at your funeral and her husband, James, will officiate. James will do the same at David's funeral. You and your son are buried together in Rosehill Cemetery. I have not visited since 1992 when David was buried because neither of you are really there. There is only marble, dirt and fake flowers. Nothing more. Nanny was nearby but her husband Windy had her body moved. I don't know why this is so sad to me if the graves mean nothing. Maybe because you were so separate from your mother in the last years. It seems you should be buried together now. You only survived her by a year.

Granddaddy is your father who will die of cancer in 1976. Doris is your stepmother whom everyone will blame for enabling Granddaddy to drink. I remember visiting him in the hospital before he went home to die, Doris walking him to the bathroom to urinate despite his having a catheter. His constant urgency might have been a missed infection, and Doris could not convince him that the toilet was not needed. He was out of it, a ghost of himself, a shuffling figure with a large swathe of gauze taped to his neck where the throat cancer and surgery had left a gaping hole. I never saw him alive again except for a brief moment at his home, in a hospital bed at the back of the house, hidden. Doris nursed him in the last days. What a horrible room to die in, so small and dead already.

I will always remember 1976 as the bicentennial, my last year of elementary school, the year Grandaddy - Seabourne Andrew - and Elvis Aaron Presley died. A few months later my guinea pig, Mac, would die in a hard freeze and I would decide that things left or died in my world during even-numbered years. I haven't trusted them since.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Conversations With the Dead: 11/5/79 Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Well honey, I guess you've been wondering why I haven't written. Your mother has been going through another crisis. Phil started drinking again, and of course I ended up doing it too. It's just not going to work for us. As nice a guy as he is, I just can't go it anymore.

He won't go to AA and it just seems like we've both changed or something, and even when there's no drinking, it's not like before. I guess I really don't have any business with anyone. I can make it alone, and with AA, but trying to have a relationship with anyone at this stage seems impossible. (I'm talking about men in general). I have to try to really get into AA again (like I was in church, in fact, I had even started going back to church) and try to grow up, and get to where I can like myself before I can get involved with anyone. You know me. Whole hog or nothing.

And I just flat cannot drink. I get worse, and meaner, every time, and part of it is because I dislike myself so much, and I take it out on other people. It has to stop. I can't be in AA like I need to, and do the things I need to do, and live with Phil. So if I want to change, and if I want to learn to live, I have to give him up. Sounds simple, but it's not easy. I hate to hurt him. It'd be much easier if he were a jackass, but he's not. But I have to put staying sober first, and he's not ready to do that, and I can't do it by staying with him.

But anyway, I've got a new address and I wanted to let you know what was going on. I'm staying at a halfway house with some other women right now, so unless I can get a job and a car awful fast (and an apartment!) it looks like you coming down here in December will have to be put off. But this is where I need to be right now. And I can live here, and work, and maybe get things worked out pretty soon, with my check. I pay rent here, but by working, and my check, I can make it in three months or so. I haven't even made up my mind to stay in Houston. In a way (because of you and Charlotte) I'd like to come back there. But we'll have to wait and see. First things first. Anyway, don't worry, because these are good people here, and I think this decision is going to be the turning point. We all have to grow up, and learn to stand on our own two feet, and I think it's about time I did that.

I love you honey, and I'm so very proud of you. Just keep it up, and write me here. I may be coming back soon, for good. Then we'll be able to see each other often. But I have to "get it together" first. But I love you, and "turd-head" Charlotte, too (you tell her for me, and tell her to send me a picture of the baby). Write me.

Love, Mother

P.S. A girlfriend of mine is keeping Charlie and he's doing fine. I'm sure he'd say HI, too.

About ten years ago I found a resale shop in Houston and went in. I got to talking to an employee and learned that the women who ran the shop lived in a halfway house next door. Some were running from abusers, some were running from addiction. I realized that this is where you wrote this letter from, the place on Dupont. I feel disappointment even as I type this because although this was a turning point for you, it was a brief pause in just another U-turn.

You are right about staying single, but you'll lose your resolve in six months.

Conversations With the Dead: 10/1/79 Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Got your letter, and I also talked to Charlotte. I told her to be sure and have Mike or you call me when the baby comes. She may end up having it on Linda's birthday.

Call me and let me know when Charlene decides when you can come down. Phil and I will come get you. That's an awful long bus ride. If you can only stay a few days, it'd be something. At least we could have a little time together. I sure hope they agree, since it's hard for me to get up there to see you often. And not having a car yet, doesn't help. I'm still planning on getting one, as soon as I can. But around here, everything's within walking distance. It's real handy.

So you're vice president? How about that. And who may I ask is Dr. Jeff? I think you may have mentioned him before, but I've forgotten. Tell me about him.

I called David right after I talked to you, but he had left that morning. It's a durn shame that people are so self-righteous and self-centered. He'll probably never try "home" again. I wouldn't! I just wish he'd gotten my phone number before he left. I haven't seen or talked to him for over three years. (I think I'm mad, too).

Charlie's not doing very good, but he's taking some more medicine and I take him back to the vet Tuesday. I sure hope he makes it. He's so sweet. I'm going to get some film this weekend and take some pictures of him. I may wait and mail this and send you one.

Well, I guess that's all my news. I bought me a bookcase, and I took all the paint off it an d now I've got to repaint it. I hope you can come down. We'll have a Christmas tree and everything! So let me hear from you, and be sweet. Call me, when you can. I love you.

Love, Mother

PS Didn't get any film. Try to get some next week Bye.

Dr. Jeff is a doctor at Arlington Community Hospital where I'm a candy striper. I had a crush on him, nothing serious. I remember his full name now - Jeff Horn. How funny, the things we remember. I think I was vice-president of some group in home economics class, which I completely sucked at. That should have told me something about my future domestic skills.

Your handwriting is getting shaky again. You're about to get sucked into another whirlpool.

Conversations With the Dead: 9/7/79 Houston, Texas


Dear Teresa,

Well, I've been busy this morning. It's just 8:30 am, and I've already cleaned my oven (ugh!) and got a washing done.

I guess Charlene told you I called. I would have waited until later, so I could talk to you, but I knew they were going to cut my phone off yesterday (can't pay the bill right now. I'll get it back later) and I didn't want you to be worrying about me or anything. Everything's okay now. In fact, I've started going to AA again (like Jimmie and I did) and also Sally and Dan Borkowski are still here. They have a friend here named Verna (I don't know if you ever met her or not) and she lives real close. In fact, while I was sick, she had her whole church pray for me, and of course Sally and Dan were too. And I'm sure that's why I came to myself enough to call AA for help. I had a bad resentment against AA when Jimmie got sick and died, and had said I'd never go back, but HE had other ideas. Anyway, it was a miracle in itself, that I called. So don't worry, because I know HE's helping me. Why I don't know, but I know HE is.

I wish we could have spent more time together, but next time I come up there, we will.

How is Charlotte doing? (She's mad at me, and so is Nanny). I know she's due to have the baby this month. Keep me informed, so I won't worry. And let me know how your school, etc. is going. I'm very proud of you, and I want you to keep it up.

Tell Charlene that I appreciate how nice she was when I called. You're better off there than with Patty or your Dad. And love your Daddy. He's had a hard time of it, and I do know he loves you.

Well, I guess this is all for now. Just always remember I love you, and let me hear form you. Tell everyone HI from me.


PS Phil's at work, but he said to tell you HI when I wrote.

Well, your phone didn't last long. I wondered, from here, if you could afford it when you paid that deposit.

You going back to AA and saying you were "sick" confirmed everyone's suspicions. That's why Charlotte and Nanny are angry. They aren't gentle forgiving spirits. They don't understand addiction, I guess, and neither did I as a child, but I could never imagine not loving or needing you then, in whatever form you were available.

Verna must be your sponsor.

I must have said something negative about Dad for you to defend him. You still love him. I probably resent him for leaving me with Charlene. Maybe it was the best place for me, but he's my father and too easily handed me over. He said to Charlotte just before I moved in with Pat and Charlene, "What do you expect me to do? Get an apartment with just Teresa and me?"

I'm glad you had so much trust in God, but maybe you relied a little too much on powers outside yourself. Today I felt a hot rage reading about how "HE" helped you, how "HE" got all the credit for your recovery, temporary as it was. Ridiculous. In fact I realize just today that it was you who killed God for me.

Conversations With the Dead: 7/16/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Sorry I've been so long about answering, but Charlotte's probably told you I've been in the hospital. The doctor put me in to run a bunch of tests on me, because I have been feeling so rotten for the last couple of months, and I still couldn't seem to get rid of that infection. I have to go back later, and have them put some kind of scope down my throat so they can check my thyroid (they found a spot on it in the x-rays) and look at my stomach. Seems I've got an ulcer. Also, I'm borderline diabetic, so I have to watch what I eat. He said there was a spot on my left lung, but it's not TB, and he says it's probably an old scar. Maybe from when I had pneumonia when I was little. Anyway, I'm feeling some better and will be glad to find out what the thyroid deal is.

I put down a deposit for a phone and they're supposed to put it in around the 23rd. I'm going to get an unlisted number, but will let you know what it is as soon as I get it. I should have my dental work done sometime after August 1st. And I'm going to find some way to see you this summer if it hairlips the governor! Just hang in there. And there will be no more long spaces in between anymore.

Well honey, I'm sorry I don't have a lot of good news this trip, but none of it is real bad either. Just be sweet, and don't ever forget that I love you, very much. Maybe in my next letter, I'll have some good news for you. Tell Charlotte I understand and will just work something else out. Let me hear, and I'll call you as soon as I get the phone.

Love you,

PS Phil and Charlie say Hi!

Your handwriting looks even worse. And Charlotte probably told you that you can't stay with her. She thinks you're drinking again. She knows you are, no matter how much you deny it.

Conversations With the Dead: 6/21/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter day before yesterday, but have been so lazy, just now answering. I don't know what's the matter with me. Just don't seem to have any energy. The doctor gave me some thyroid pills, but they haven't helped any.

Did you know your writing looks a lot like Charlotte's? (As well as I can remember it, that is!).

I've read all of Erma Bombeck's books, and I wish she'd write some more. She's so funny.

I sure wish I could see you. In fact, I've been thinking about putting my dental work off, and coming up for a week. I could stay at Charlotte's and help her out some maybe, and you could come stay with us. could you find a way to get out of babysitting for a week? Why don't you find out, and let me know if you can, and when. I can take a bus up there, and if Phil can't come get me, I can take a bus back (He's been having to work weekends lately). Why don't you ask Charlene about it, and let me know? I could come any time.

I'm sure you're tanned a lot more than I am. It rains so much here, it's hard to get too much sun. I try to pick a day when my hair is dirty so I can wash it the next day, and the sun doesn't try to work with me! But at least I'm not "sickly white".

I haven't heard from Charlotte, (no surprise), so I guess she's doing okay. It wouldn't hurt anything though if I could stay with her for a few days, and help out. You can call her too, and see what she thinks.

Well, I guess that's all for now. Not really much news. We've got to go to the VA hospital this afternoon and see Doc. He's been real sick. So let me hear from you, after you check with Charlene.

Love you,

You're really starting to repeat yourself, and your handwriting is getting shaky. You are going down, getting depressed, and Doc being "sick" means he's been drinking.

Conversations With the Dead: 6/14/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter yesterday and Phil and I cracked up over your drawing! You know, I bet you could really draw good, like your daddy, if you'd work at it. Does it interest you any? I've always wanted to try my hand at oil painting, although I'm sure I don't have any born talent for it. But if I could learn the basics I might pass.

I'm glad you can make some money this summer, but I'm also glad you're having fun. You're only young once, so enjoy it! I missed out on so much, by getting married so young. I guess that's why I act like a kid so much. Never got it out of my system!

I talked to Charlotte yesterday, and told her to cal me if she gets to feeling too bad, and I'd come stay with her and help out. I sure hope she can carry the baby full term. She promised she'd let me know, if she needed me. She said David had called Granny about three weeks ago from Arizona, and that he was coming back to Fort Worth. I'd sure like to see him. I can't imagine him being twenty-one years old. I'm just glad he's not in jail. I pray for him all the time, even though I didn't know where he was.

Erma Bombeck has several good books. One's "At Wits End" and "The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank" and "I Lost Everything In the Postnatal Depression". They're all so funny. You can probably get them at the library. Phil and I go to the library all the time. We both love to read, and I joined a book-of-the-month club too.

I went to the dentist today. I had three cavities I had to fill, and I have that broken tooth to get fixed (thanks to Buddy!). It's going to cost me $240 to get it fixed. But it's in the front so it has to be done. He filled two cavities today and I'll go back and get the other one filled, and then after the first of next month, I'll get the broken one fixed. I'll sure be glad to get it done. It made me so self-conscious because it looked so bad.

I'm letting my hair grow out again, but I think I'll get it frosted again. That gives it more body, and covers up the gray. I'll have to wait awhile though, because I want my teeth fixed first.

I talked to Nanny last week, and she sounds awful nervous. But you always are, after an operation like that.

I've beet getting a tan too. No, I never do burn real bad, and I never peel. I hope you can come down this summer so we can go down to Galveston.

Well honey, I guess that's all for now. Have fun and let me hear form you. Remember, I love you.

Love, Mother

Conversations With the Dead: 6/5/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter yesterday. I really had worried when I didn't hear from you, but I thought you might have gone out of town or something.

Phil and I thought we might have found you a pet you could keep, but it didn't work out. He found it out on the job. It was a turtle (or terapin, I don't know which) and it was about six inches long. He was kind of pretty, because he had orange spots all over his head and legs, and orange eyeballs! But he wouldn't eat! We asked at a pet shop what they ate, and they said vegetables and fruit, but he wouldn't eat. I don't know if he was too scared, or what. Anyway, we let him go because I was afraid he'd die. And you should have seen Charlie! It was so funny. He watched him, and followed him around all the time. And when I'd put him in the bathtub in a little water, his shell made all kinds of noise, and Charlie would sit in there with him. (And he usually won't go near a bathroom, because he's so afraid he'll get a bath!).

I wrote mother a while back and I sent her a get well card, but I haven't heard from her. Charlotte didn't say what was wrong with her. Why don't you ask her and let me know? Charlotte still hasn't written.

Phil and I went to see the Battleship Texas weekend before last, and went through it. It was real interesting. He said when you come down, we'll go to Astroworld. I think it's kind of like Six Flags. And we both got us a bathing suit so we can go down to Galveston. There are a lot of things to see down there.

Do you have any pictures yet you could send me? I wish I had my camera, but it's packed in all my stuff.

Well honey, I guess this is all. Hope your sunburn is okay by now. Be sweet and let me hear from you. I love you, very much.

Love, Mother

Conversations With the Dead: 5/22/79 Houston, Texas

Dear Teresa,

Got your letter yesterday, and it was real sweet with all the "Happy Mother's Day". I also got a telegram Charlotte sent me about Nanny being in the hospital for surgery. She said it wasn't serious, but I wonder. Mother's not one for having surgery or anything to do with hospitals, unless it's pretty drastic! Charlotte sent it the 15th and I don't know why I didn't get it until yesterday, unless it was because we were out of town this weekend. But seems like I should have gotten it by Friday the 18th, before we left. Phil and his boss and his girlfriend and I went to a resort place that his boss has an interest in, to do some work. It was really nice. I'd like to take you when you come down. It'd be a lot of fun. You can go canoe riding down a river (it takes about 4-6 hours) and they have a huge slide that goes down a big hill into some water. And it's so pretty. The water is so clean, etc. And we could take Charlie. He'd have a ball. Phil has a camper, too, you know, but if it's real nice, we could camp out. It'd be fun. We could barbecue, etc.

I'm glad you liked the bookends. I was afraid they'd be too "childish" but they were so cute and unusual, I just couldn't resist them. I like unusual things like that. Do you get a chance to read very much? If you go to the library, look up all the books by Erma Bombeck. She is so funny! She reminds me of me, as a mother! Some of her books are At Wits End, I Lost Everything In the Post-Natal Depression, The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank and Just Wait Till You Have Children Of Your Own. You'll laugh yourself silly! She's a lot like Phyllis Diller, only better. Phil and I go to the library every week, nearly, and get about eight books a piece. We read all the time. And I'm studying for my GED too, so I can get my high school diploma, since when your Daddy and I got married I quit school. (That's one of the dumbest things I ever did. Of course I have a few more on my list too, ha).

As far as pets go, all I can think of is something you could keep outside, like rabbits, etc., or maybe goldfish, etc. There ought to be something you could get.

Phil and I have picked up a new hobby. Have you ever seen that string picture art? He's nuts for ships and he's made two real pretty pictures for the living room and I made a small one of a snail with a butterfly on its back for the bathroom. They're fun to make. I may make you one, and send it to you. Phil always did like to do things like that. He does real pretty leather work too, and he's building one of those model ships. (We've got ships all over the house. Even have a lamp with a ship as a base!).

Well, it won't be long until school will be out. What day do you get out? It's in June isn't it?

I was sick last week and had to go to the doctor and get a shot and some antibiotics. But I'm getting over it now. I hate to feel bad. Guess I'm getting old, ha.

Tell Charlotte I didn't get her telegram until Monday. I'll get mother a get well card today, if it'll stop raining long enough to go to the store. They spotted a tornado this morning. It was really bad.

How is Granny doing these days? Didn't she break her hip or something?

Well honey, I guess this is all my news. And don't be self-conscious about being pretty. The good Lord made you that way 'cause He wanted to. But I know what you mean about not knowing what to say. Just say Thank You, I guess. Be sweet and let me hear, and save your money so we can have a lot of fun shopping! Phil says "hi" back.

I love you, very much!

Love, Mother

Yes, Nanny had surgery to have her teeth removed, I think for dentures. The surgery will go fine but she'll get a nasty infection.

The bookends were of old school house desks made of wood and iron and I used them forever, probably kept them for another fifteen years until they fell apart.

I did eventually read Erma Bombeck, more than a year after you died, from your own collection. I gathered them from the house on Bellgrove, from a wall of shelves behind the recliner where they found you.

I am glad you are getting your GED. You are forty-one years old and smoothing out regrets.

I never did get a pet. I think Pat and Charlene were relieved when the hamster I moved in with died shortly after I arrived.

The string art. I distinctly remember my one and only visit to your Wirt Road address. I was sitting on the sofa in the depressing apartment you shared with Phil, holding one of his completed ship projects. It looked cheesy to me, even back then. Too hollow, too thin and fragile in a cheap way. It was something you would find dusty on a card table at a garage sale. It might go for fifty cents or a dollar. No soul.

I don't know why the apartment was depressing but it didn't help that we never once left it. Maybe it was all the ships, lost in the sea of Phil's morose energy. It reminded me of the apartment you shared with Jimmy and how all that ended, him on a park bench naked. All the "fun" you promise in your letters is hollow, thin strings, tiny nails on black velvet collecting unreachable dust. Like the cheap art Buddy had of Spanish dancers and bull fighters, props for a sitcom. You became the men you chose. Ships and string art? Where were you?

I felt old today at 46. You felt old at 41. I guess things begin to creak in that fourth decade. You won't make it to the fifth.

Granny didn't break a hip. It's funny how you often said when she complained all the time about her health, "She will outlive us all." How precient. She will outlive you by a decade, unable to recognize any of us, completely gone.

I paused as I typed your closing, when you said you love me. I let the cursor blink on the words "...very much!" while I tried to feel you, to reach back through thirty-two Mother's Days, to remember your voice.