My Mother's Last Letter to Me

Richard and Katie
Katie and I at LAX before she leaves for Indonesia in 1995.

A simple photo prompts my Mom to write me a casual letter.
As is usual, half the time she shows powerful insight
and half the time I barely understand what she is talking about.  :-)

Newport Beach, California
July 18, 1995

      Dear Richard,

      I really love this picture. There are qualities that I see in you that are especially evident in this photo which I saw in you from the very beginning. I see them as innate and, like your physical body, they have magnificent "soul qualities" let us call them.

      At this moment let me describe what some look like to me, knowing that another day would call up a different aspect of describing. In other words, this is a short but by no means definitive telling.

      You show up! Hello! Presence! "I'm here as much as I can be in the moment!"  You were exactly the same as a newborn baby.

      You're willing to wear someone else's school T-shirt. You put yourself in their place. You buy me presents that you would not necessarily choose for yourself.

      Your smile is slightly crooked. You are straightforward about the part that dodges and weaves and may not know exactly what's what. It is in the shadow that your voice finds creativity.

      I think it necessary to say three things here (do I sound Papal?):
            1. This is the shadow of many shades.
            2. When what I know meets what I don't know, I am stretched and challenged.
            3. It is endless - always.

      Your hands interest me. They are very manly. The left hand looks almost relaxed. Don't worry about biting your nails - it will soften and leave as do habits that sometimes pass their time of usefulness when seen, accepted and given a good pension.

      As an athlete, you are gifted in expression of coordination. Early on - at about 13 or so - you backed away a little from that grace, but it is poking its way there again in the way you chide Dad and embrace Katie, your concern for Tom, the letters to Shirley, Kitty and all your good friends. It is showing up in how you are willing to see what's up.



My mother and I
My mother and I shortly before she died of lung cancer.

The Surrounding Silences

"When I think about her it brings me pain, but the pain is bittersweet -- mixed with and mixed with pleasure and even happiness. This is not necessarily a bad feeling - or maybe the sadness and the happiness are all mixed up."

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