One Year Later: Happy Pills and an Unexpected Box
Posted on January 16, 2014
My friend Dorien Grey helped shape part of today’s post. He doesn’t know it, though, so shhhhh. You’ll understand how in a bit. For now, I realized the reason I’ve been having such a difficult time getting back into blog writing is due to post-holiday blues. I love the holidays. I’m ‘that annoying guy’ who just does. But this was the first year without my father-in-law and his absence was felt. Honorable Husband mourned him in his own unique way, which stressed the two of us out considerably without realizing why. This has led me to reluctantly admit to an absolute truth.
This house will most likely NEVER be unpacked! And if by some weird chance it is, it means we’ve both died or we’re moving. My husband and I are at our wits end with it and can’t stop crabbing at each other while we’re doing it. And by it, I mean unpacking, though he says my crabbiness did spread to the bedroom one evening when I was instructing him how to do things in the same curt manner he was instructing me how to unpack. Neither of us were particularly impressed.
We’re talking our way through the difficulties now, which is helpful. Recognizing the problems is a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, I felt the need to take the edge off one evening last week and took something the doctor prescribed for me. Even more unfortunately, I didn’t realize we had a container of FIL’s happy pills which are 3x more potent than my own. I’ve never felt ‘heavy’ before, but I experienced that little joy an hour later. I’ve also never felt like the walking dead before either. Well, my virginity has been cured in that respect now, too.
Moving along, in an effort to make Ralph’s life more bearable and potentially happier, I have continued working on areas he identified a desire to see changed after he returned to work. I’ve gone through the kitchen and simplified areas and drawers, attacked the office with a mad passion, gotten paperwork shredded or filed, and, finally, started sifting through a massively stuffed ‘thing’ most people would recognize in their own home as a linen closet. It’s resembling one now.
And while going through it, I happened to come across an old shoebox on the bottom shelf that was covered up and in the back. Naturally, I thought it was my husband packratting something away, so I almost didn’t pay it any attention, only curiosity got the better of me. I opened it and found—and this is where Dorien Grey comes in—letters from my father-in-law to his family while he was in the air force. For those of you who don’t know, Dorien sometimes shares his letters to home on his own blog from time to time, plus he has an incredible book out of them that’s also an audio book (or soon will be). If you haven’t read it, then I strongly urge you to.
I mistook the first letter I looked at from being when FIL was stationed over in England and met his future wife, Ralph’s mother. It read a bit funny, though, and I soon realized is from much earlier. I’m hoping it’s not a huge breach of privacy to share it with you, but I realized I was getting to know my FIL from a much earlier age than when I’d met him. The FIL I knew was thoughtful, reserved, planned ahead, wise and didn’t like surprises. This earlier version of him, though… I’m just happy to meet part of him I never got to see.
The letter was sent on January 12, 1961. My FIL was 18 ½ years old and stationed in Colorado.
Dear Mom & Dad,
I’m sorry I had to shock you people like I did, but I’m officially happy and I wanted to tell you over the phone rather than write a letter because I figured you might have some questions. I can hardly wait for you to meet her because she’s the cutest most wonderfulest girl in the world.
Right now our plans sorta go like this. We’ll get married as soon as we get things straight and then spend as much time together as possible, but one thing is pretty sure, she will stay in Denver and get as much of her school done as possible (I don’t like it that way, but I figure it the best thing to do). Our plans won’t be finale until I get my orders, and will be able to tell you for sure then. I have to have notarized statements from the two of you giving me permission to get married, so you can send that as soon as possible please. Thank you. Can’t write more. I’m dead tired. Got to sleep, so I’ll write more later when I know more myself. Or the phone.
I wonder who she was. It’s possible her identity is revealed in the other letters in the box, only I haven’t looked through them all. And what a different life he’d have had than the one he lived. Ralph and my brother-in-law must be genuinely pleased it didn’t work out between them. But I wonder who she was and what her life turned out like.
Don’t you just love a mystery of the heart?
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the recently re-published novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.
2 Responses to “One Year Later: Happy Pills and an Unexpected Box”
Patricia (Trish) Hebel says:
January 16, 2014 at 10:37 am
Unpacking is always a pain in the tockus. That’s why I told my old man that I will die here before moving again. On a lighter note, it is awesome that you found some old stuff of father-in-laws. It is a real treat to get to know them at an earlier stage in life. When my father died, I got that happy privilege when I cleaned out the old house. Also, being a packrat is a good thing. I admit I am and a sentimental one at that. Recently, I cleared out some space and found things my daughter gave me when she was a young child. Needless to say, they are in places of honor now.
January 16, 2014 at 10:46 am
Letters from the past are often the closest we can come to time travel, and I wish more people would save these indelible parts of themselves. I’m delighted that you came across these unexpected portraits of your father-in-law’s past. And I am grateful for your acknowledgements, Kris….that was typically nice of you.