We live too far from my parents for them to get to spend day to day time with my children very often, too far away for them to play together, to take long walks and pick berries, the way I did with my Oma. But today they got a letter from Arizona, from their Opa, my father.
It was a silly letter, printed from the computer with fading pictures reproduced with too little ink, of a roadrunner and a wildcat in Opa’s garden. Opa wrote that the roadrunner had something caught in its beak and he wanted to see what it was. He flattered the bird and asked its name, but it didn’t fall into the trap and open its beak to answer. Then he wrote that the wildcat had come knocking, in a fancy hat and umbrella, asking to be photographed. Opa said he’d never seen a cat in a fancy hat and umbrella, so he went for the camera while the wildcat combed its hair. But when he came back, the cat said he was teasing, he’d never be photographed in a hat and umbrella. Opa took the picture without props.
Chiqui and Golondrina crowded around me to look at the pictures and laughed out loud as I read, their eyes tearing with pleasure. I did not know my father could be such a great writer, such a funny one. My heart flowered at the sound of laughter, and the realization that Opa was using this hidden talent for his grandkids’ sake.
His humor, his ingenuity, they make his love so palpable. I will keep this treasure, in the folder with the school journals and the quirky drawings that someday I will show the children, when they are so far from the little ones they are today that they can barely remember, when they are curious about the people they were so long ago. And I will show them this letter, and they will feel Opa’s warmth again, be enveloped by his love (and mine, having kept this token of love so long), and be blessed. How lucky they are, that they have him, his love, and that they have this letter, this physical thing, so capable of carrying such an apparently ephemeral sentiment through the ages. And how lucky am I, that I can be a witness to these riches!