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The best things can be tiniest things

Those who are regular readers know about my obsession with the mail.

Perhaps it comes from living in a large school district in a time before the internet. In the summers, my middle school friends and I would write each other letters. YES…letters, that go in the mailbox and take more than 24 hours to deliver.

Perhaps it comes from my favorite field trip in elementary school being to the post office. How often do you get to see what goes on behind the counter? And I was super cool because half way through, I got to wave at my dad who was sorting the mail in the pre-machine days.

Perhaps it comes from looking at Dad’s stamp collections or being allowed to pick out which stamps I liked best from the Philatelic catalog. Or from the time he attempted to teach me how to read a zip code bar code (I’ll never understand that one).

Anyway, I love it. And as soon as I moved away from home, I always loved Dad’s mail. Often it would simply be a scrap of paper (a page out of an old daybook, a page-a-day calendar page, a used envelope, a square of graph paper…). Whenever he saw something or thought something that reminded him of his children, he’d send the clipping or thought through the mail.

Recently while cleaning out my basement (which after almost two years still is not fully unpacked), I came across a couple of these notes. One (written on a daybook page) was about visiting the grandkids and going sledding with mom. Somehow through the hand-written words (so much more than through an email), I could connect with him and almost feel like I could hear him telling me about it.

Another one I found was a small square of paper tucked into a book. He gave me a coffee table book of photos from Time Magazine probably 10 years ago. The message couldn’t have been more relevant. It was almost eery.

When I started seriously dating Charles, I honestly was worried about what my father would think. Having grown up in the projects of south Boston, my father was jaded as a child on race issues. Being mugged on his birthday as a young boy did not help things. I can distinctly remember as a child, driving through not-so-safe sections of Boston or New York (in the days before power door locks)…my Dad would say “Ethnics” and we all knew to lock our doors and roll up our windows.

Perhaps not the most PC of things to do, but as children, we had no idea what “ethnic” meant.

I’m proud that as my dad grew as an adult, he met African-Americans who changed his early views. And I’m proud that when he met Charles, he did so with an open mind and let him be one of those people who reinforced that no matter our color, we all start as decent human beings on the inside.

Even if Charles didn’t find his jokes funny. (It’s ok Dad. He doesn’t laugh at my jokes either).

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  1. October 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm

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