Included in the box of letters my sister just gave me were several from my Grandmother that I just opened and read through dating back at least four months. If you read this blog often, you know that in the last four months, I lost both my Grandfather and my Aunt. My Grandfather's death, as I'd written, left me feeling...strange, while my Aunt's left me feeling relieved (her suffering was so great I can only imagine death was a relief for her).
I read them chronologically and just re-hashed all those emotions again as I read from my Grandmother that my Grandpa was getting sicker, had died, that Aunt Janet was OK, then sicker, then dead. There were a lot of photos she thought I would be interested in along with a particularly thick letter including four typed pages. I opened to find the following first paragraph:
My son, Edward Harmon, died of cancer in October 11, 2004, and one of his request, was for me to write biography. Even, before he got sick, he would suggest for me to do this, every time I tell him a story about my childhood. When, I tell him, that no one will be interested in reading my story, he claims Adam, his son will.
Needless to say, before even getting to the rest of the pages, I was reduced to little more than a tearful boy, feeling again like I was seven and sitting on my father's lap. I got some wine and read the few pages, feeling as though this was a gift that had been written just for me.
Also in the box was a card sent to me upon my graduation from a man who worked with my father in Italy. I did not, immediately, recognize the name, but opened the card and read,
My wife Luciana said you look just like Ed Harmon! [illegible] a wonderful man that he has left something in our hearts.
I wrote to my little sister once that it's strange how sometimes, you get in a funk and don't know what's wrong, and my Grandma will send a letter that rambles and says not much of anything, but reading her handwriting and her reminder in every letter that "Jesus Loves You!" for some reason fills a void you didn't know you had. It's not the religion of it, but that there's comfort in knowing that, if nothing else, my Grandmother thinks the Universe of me...it raises ones spirits.
This box of letters was that emotion, twelve times over. I didn't realize how much I missed my father, or how often I think of him. But reading from strangers what he meant to them, did something to me I didn't know I needed, and I can wake up tomorrow feeling better than I did today.
My Grandmother also included my Grandpa's funeral notice. It was strange to read some things I had not known. That my Grandpa was one of eight children, or that he made a great pot of spaghetti. In some ways, my Grandpa was dead before he died. There is very little left of him on this earth other than scant memories we hold, and those are mostly tainted with pain. My father, who died much earlier however, is in many ways, still alive. Interesting how those things work out.