ONE MORE LETTER
by Janet Seever
As I was cleaning out a storage shed in 2005, I came across a half dozen well-creased notes. Quarter sheets torn from typing paper, the blue ink was faded, but each one distinctly ended with "Love, Mom."
They were written in 1957, the first of many notes to follow. My eyes filled with tears. What a treasure from the past!
In March 1957, my baby sister was born. While Mom was in the hospital, my younger siblnigs and I stayed with our grandparents.
When Mom brought baby Sharon home from the hospital, we were excited about going home as well. However, my sister and I started developing red spots -- measles! The only way we were allowed to see our baby sister for the next two weeks was by walking on the hard-packed winter trail across a cornfield, going to the back of our house, and peering through the bedroom window.
Mom would tear an 8-1/2 x 11 sheet of paper into quarters, write a personal note to each of us every day and pass them to us by sliding them under the bedroom window. I carried mine in my pocket.
Those quarter-page notes were the first of many letters to come in the following years.
After graduating from high school, I moved from a rural small town of to , 70 miles away. As a country girl, I found the city overwhelming. I missed country living, and the university I attended was 20 times larger than our entire town!
Mom's weekly letters, my source of encouragement, would arrive like clockwork. Often when I had a tough day in class, Mom's letter would be waiting for me.
She wrote of ordinary things -- what my dad was doing on the farm, who had gotten married, joined the army or had a baby, or what my brother and sisters were doing. Often the letters were written late at night while she was canning beans in the pressure cooker or had a kettle of tomatoes boiling on the stove. On more than one occasion, a spatter of tomato juice landed on the letter. "It's midnight now," she would write, "so I guess I should head to bed. I'm falling asleep while writing this."
After university, I worked at various jobs in a medical research lab, as a teacher, and at a community college. One constant throughout that time was my mother's caring correspondence.
After I got married, my husband and I went overseas to do mission work in in 1977. I was so lonely at first that I would dream of being back home. Mom's letters were my lifeline, my connection with home. By this time, my brother and two sisters were also away from home, so she wrote to them as well.
She now numbered the front of each envelope to make certain each one arrived safely, and surprisingly enough, they all did. It took two weeks for her letter to reach us, and two more weeks for my reply to get to her. This was particularly worrisome when she had exploratory surgery for colon cancer. By the time we got her letter telling us that she would have surgery, the surgery date was already past. It turned out she was fine.
Our mission work eventually took us to the Philippines, , and . In the late 80s, I began saving mom's letters, knowing that someday she wouldn't be with us. I had no idea how soon that time would come. My dad passed away in 1989 and we moved back to the U.S. in 1990. After 26 years of weekly letters, Mom and I switched to talking on the telephone more often than writing.
Then in the spring of 1992, Mom came down with a mysterious illness. After many trips to doctors and courses of antibiotics, she only got worse. The whole family was with her in intensive care on a June evening when she passed away at 67. I was holding her hand.
Oh how I missed her and those special letters. I had saved nearly 200 of them, and occasionally found some tucked away in odd places like recipe books and in drawers.
If I could write just one more letter to Mom, this is what I would say:
Mom, thanks for the unconditional love you showered on my
siblings and me. Thanks for making do with so little when we
were growing up. We never realized how poor we were
materially, because we were rich in so many other ways.
Thanks for your example of courage, faithfulness and
determination as you lived out your life in situations that
were often difficult. Thanks for making the time to write
letters when you were too tired and too busy. You'll never
know how much they encouraged me. I thank God for the
privilege of having you as my mother.
Your grateful daughter, Janet
-- Janet Seever
Janet is the mother of two grown children and writes from Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Her stories have appeared in numerous places on the Internet. Her husband had a severe stroke in 2004, and lives in a care home.