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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

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.

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