Once in a while I feel the need to drive two hours into rural Utah and visit my mother for a weekend. It’s nice to be there. The tiny town is much quieter than the city. And the country air is clean and crisp.
My mother still lives in the house I grew up in. Childhood photos and memories cover the walls and all the spaces in between. There used to be six of us living under that roof. Six people living, breathing and laughing together in one place. Today, there are only two. The three older kids grew up and moved away. And a brain tumor took my father in 2011. Now my mother lives there alone with my 12 year old brother.
On my last visit, my brother and sister were able to visit as well. For a couple of days there were eight of us, counting spouses and children, gathered together again. We helped with some work around the house but we mostly ate a lot of food and laughed even more.
Sunday afternoon, I wanted to trim my fingernails but realized I didn’t have any fingernail clippers with me. Instinctively, I headed for the master bath because I knew my father had clippers in his bathroom drawer. I opened the drawer and everything was as he had left it. In fact, it looked as if he still lived there. His razor was there. Even his partially used deodorant was still there. Strange, I thought to myself. He’s been gone for almost three years but all his things are still in their place. I walked into the master bedroom. His clothes still hung in his closet. I walked over to the dresser. It was full of clothes. Is it strange that they are here, I thought, or would it be even more bizarre if they were missing? I noticed a small container on top of the dresser and peeked inside. There were buttons and coins along with cufflinks and bits of paper. I pulled out one of the pieces of folded paper. It was written on a typewriter and was dated July, 18 1983. That was the year my parents were married. It was written by my mother and was entirely in Spanish. My mother speaks english fluently now, but was just learning at that time. I began to read the letter and couldn’t help the tears that followed. It said:
I am so in love with you. I miss you when you’re not by my side. (excuse the spelling errors, this machine is “yanky” Ha, Ha, Ha,) I want you to know that to me, you are the best, you are my riches, my happiness, my best fortune, “you are the best [in english]”. When I think about you, my heart jumps with happiness, a smile blossoms on my lips.
Danny; I want to always be your best friend, your inseparable companion, your faithful and loving wife, as you are everything to me.
Thank you darling for being an understanding husband. I pray to God that he may always illuminate and keep us together.
Your wife who loves you more than anything…
I know my parents loved each other. They told each other often. They rarely fought and they were affectionate to the end. But this letter hit me as undeniable proof. I know my mother loved my father because she openly confessed her love on a “yanky” typewriter in 1983. And I know my father loved her because he saved that letter for over 28 years in a container on top of his dresser. He didn’t throw it away. And it wasn’t collecting dust in a shoe box hidden in the attic or buried in the garage. It was right there in front of him, everyday he got dressed in the morning.
My parents fell in love in 1983 and they never let that love grow dim. If only we could all be that courageous and madly in love.