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Thursday, June 30, 2011

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.

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