Recently, someone dear to us passed away. Although we had stopped being related many years ago, we still visited, talked, and, unbeknownst to most people, my ex-father-in-law would email a response to every single one of my blog posts. When someone is in our world for an especially long period of time, it's hard to imagine they're really gone, so when I published my most recent blog post, I found myself absentmindedly waiting for his reply. When I remembered that I wouldn't be getting one, I was sad for a moment, then wondered what he might have said. He probably would have said the blog was maybe a bit too long, and that he enjoyed company, but of course there was no need to fuss. Then he'd go on to say that he always liked my baking, and that of course his lovely wife always kept a welcoming, comfy home, and then he'd probably ask when were they going to see us next.
When I was doing my design work full-time, I wrote a blog almost every week, so I have hundreds and hundreds of emails from him. Whether it was his amused curiosity about "glamping", or a gentle nudge to expand my writing into a wider audience, we'd email back and forth like old pen-pals. Both of us loved words, and had a genuine interest in what was happening in the world around us, which made for some interesting conversations. Some of his emails were lengthy paragraphs, almost short stories, and others were a few lines, with a word or two of encouragement or a question about what I had written.
Regardless of what he wrote, each one made me think, and gave me a wonderful snippet into their daily lives. Sometimes, it was as simple as him describing his lunch and the mess of papers on his desk, and other times it was a very unexpected, full-on story about his thoughts and experiences that veered into a very random topic.
I think, in some ways, it was sometimes easier for us to write than to talk, and, like me, he enjoyed putting sentences together and sharing parts of us that we didn't always give others access too. It was another side to him that I will always cherish, and I'm grateful to have these written memories.
At one point, I started saving all of his replies, wanting to publish both my blogs and his replies in a book. I think they would make for an interesting read, but I haven't done that yet. Of course, I can't find the reply that I was looking for, but it was regarding Paul the Paper Clip. He suggested to me, with wry amusement, that there should be a sequel, and, perhaps a complete series to follow. Perhaps some children's books? I hadn't actually intended to write any more about Paul, but I liked his idea, and we talked about the possibility of writing a series the next time that we met for lunch.
You see, people touch our lives in different ways, which is what makes every memory that we have so special and unique. I may still publish that book, but in the meantime, here's one of his replies to a blog post that I wrote over ten years ago about strong women, new beginnings, and my Lady in Red painting. Friday : 15 April 2011
Dear Wendy :
Everybody needs some kind of "Lady in Red" discovery, though the exact color or shade may vary for each of us. Whether it's a painting, a stylish piece of furniture, or -- as is sometimes my case -- a striking dust jacket, artful book binding or magazine illustration that offers delight each time we look at it. And your latest blog, "Ladies and Red" -- pinpoints exactly why this should be so. Such excellence in artistry somehow
"feed[s] that [secret] part of our soul. "