My Father / My Son

Pile of lettersFor the past few weeks I’ve sat at my [messy] desk, working and feeling a little guilty. I’ve meant to transcribe more of my dad’s letters to his family in my spare time, but I always find other things do do instead. It’s not that I don’t want to type them up, I just haven’t.

They sit, inches away from my left hand and occasionally I read a snippet or two.

He was lonely and wanted people to write him letters:

“I’ve gotten one letter so far, it was from Martha but it’s the only one I’ve gotten so far. By god, I’m not going to write any more until I get a few.”

He wrote about his activities:

“Yesterday morning we had to swab decks in 1 barrack and last night got they got 12 of us guys to swab decks in 3 rooms of the PX, and they are darn big rooms.”

He wanted his parents to send him his camera, he went to church, he talked about the food he was served at boot camp.

Whenever I read one of the letters, or even just look over at them I remember that he was younger than my son is now. These are the handwritten words of my 20 year old father written before he met my mom, before he had children, before he was 21. He was in Navy boot camp during wartime.

My son doesn’t write me letters. He texts now and then. He calls us occasionally. We communicate on Facebook sometimes. But he’s only in college and not heading off to a possibly dangerous situation like my dad was.

I guess I just wanted to say that it feels strange to be able to read my father’s words when he was younger than my son. It puts a whole different perspective on things. Before he was my father he was someone’s son. Just like my son will be someone’s father. Not earth-shattering news by any means. Yet it certainly shakes me up a bit.

2 thoughts on “My Father / My Son

  1. I can relate to your dad’s loneliness and desire for letters. I might post about that.

    I have to say that I am very sad about the demise of letter-writing. I have all the letters I wrote to my parents from my AFS year when I was in Thailand at 18. They’re a snapshot in time, and we don’t get that through emails or FB. And I’m not sure that kids these days know how to write. My 22 yr old niece is overseas living on her own, but she rarely responds to my emails. Though she’d probably skype or whatsapp, but I never get around to using those. Maybe I’m just a dinosaur.


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