A few years ago I shredded the majority of personal letters that I have received over the years (along with burning all the diaries that I have kept since I was a child). I did this mainly because it makes me sad to reminisce. Also, I don’t want to leave my personal belongings for anyone else to sort through when I’m gone.
There were some things that I was unable to part with though. One, a touching letter of apology from my mother. As my mother’s dementia has progressed, I am no longer able to communicate adequately with her. She is mostly silent now. When I call, I can hear her breathing on the telephone line. After a moment or two, she will say, “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.” Like the stars in the night sky at dawn, she is fading. I miss her terribly. This card from years ago reminds me of all that is brave and good about my mother.
Mom once confessed to me that she wished she were more creative. That she could knit, for example, and make something beautiful to be remembered by. To encourage her, I sent a letter reminding her of the eight, healthy children that she has successfully raised. How we have all turned out to be thoughtful and loving people. Like so many of us though, she felt she had to do something to be worthwhile. It saddens me that she doubted herself. I remember all the ways that she showed me she cared—she wrote/telephoned often, sent along helpful and useful gifts, and showed interest in the minutiae of my life. Most notably, she was not too proud or fearful to admit when she was wrong. She was sorry when she felt that she had harmed me. She wrote a letter to ask for my forgiveness, (which was a given!). I love and admire her deeply for that.