I sensed a need to be in touch with my parents, and so I got out the greeting cards. I possibly have one of the largest collections known to man.
I collected them from throughout the house. Over the past eight years, I discovered them inside dresser drawers, on top of the coffee table and used as markers in books. One by one, I put them in a shoe box on the dining room table.
I stacked them so high, the lid hovered high over the box.
I’ve loved going through my parents’ belongings, though it’s been a difficult task emotionally. Now its down to the wire. Few things remain, such as the greeting cards.
With my birthday approaching and Thanksgiving on its heels, I reached out for the cards to feel the connection with them again. And though my principle aim was to feel close to my parents, I also knew I needed to decide the ultimate fate of the cards.
I drove to my parents’ home, sat down at the dining table and lifted the box top from the cards. I thought I’d cull the pile, possibly by 50 percent. How naïve of me.
I realize now how important greeting cards were in my family. It’s not so much that the words on the front of the cards mattered so much. They were made up by other people. But below each message, we wrote our own. We expressed our devotion.
In anniversary cards, my father scribbled things to Mom that I’d never read. He adored her.
I discovered a favorite phrase of mine was “you’re the best daddy in the world,” and I repeatedly told my mother how much I admired her.
I didn’t write special notes on just some of the cards but on mostly all of them.
Sometimes I feel like a heel for what I didn’t do for my mother. After Dad died, I was completely stressed out by my grief and by caregiving. Too often, I believe, she saw the strain on my face. But these cards remind me that for the better part of my life with her, I told her what she meant to me.
I wasn’t the perfect daughter, but I was a good daughter.
I threw out very few of the cards. I divided them into Mother’s and Father’s Day cards, birthday cards and holiday cards. I put them in envelopes and boxed them up.
Some day, I’ll get them out again and read them, maybe on another holiday, to feel my parents close to me again. To feel like a family again. To remember that once upon a time, there was a family, and they loved each other so much, they never missed a holiday without putting their affection into beautiful words.
This holiday, let’s put our love into words. Let’s tell the people we love how much they’ve changed our world.