Voices from the Past

by Bella Rum


Mama & Jean013H found a box of my old letters, some love letters and some from family and friends. What a blast from the past. I couldn’t read some of them; the cursive was too small or too sloppy or too faded, so he read a few of them to me. The first one he read was from an old boyfriend. H snorted at the lousy spelling, and scorned me for nagging him all these years for his spelling. Neither of us are good spellers, but looky there, The Google came along just in the nick of time. He chuckled at the line, “I’ll shave closely when I see you again.” Oh, golly.

Then I found a small stack of letters that were tied with a piece of white lace with a green satin ribbon woven through it. I recognized it. It was the ribbon I’d worn in my hair on prom night. I recognized my mother’s handwriting. I could only read two, and it was hard to get through those. I was eighteen. After graduation, a girl friend and I had left for our summer jobs on the Outer Banks. I’d never been away from home more than a night or two. I thought I was something. I was filled with excitement and anxious to get away. My mother stood in the driveway, filled with concern about what could happen to me, and tried bravely to release her remaining but pitifully threadbare apron strings.

Forty-seven years later, her chatty letters cannot disguise how much she missed me. I was her baby. I didn’t miss her one bit. I was so glad to be away from parental eyes. She wrote about my sisters, brother, nephew, Dad and neighbors. She wrote about her days. She mentioned that ‘Daddy’ missed me or ‘Daddy’ said hello. I knew that wasn’t true. Dad didn’t give a second thought after I backed out of the driveway, but she wanted me to feel that he did. She told me that she didn’t worry about me because she knew I was a ‘good’ girl. Another sweet mother’s lie. No doubt, she worried about me every minute.

After that, I put the letters aside, but I will read more of her revealing words later, seeing things I never saw when I read them the first time, so self-involved was that eighteen-year-old girl. How I wish I could have been wiser, but that’s the way the world teaches us. What a winding road it is from there to here, and oh, how perspectives do change. Who’s missing who now?

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