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A letter to Jessie (1915-1997) . . .

Dear Big Sister,

I hope you like this photo—I have several shots of you from over the years, and this is my favorite—just check out that glorious smile!

I believe this is where you were living just before you and Victor bought a farm near the air base and moved there. I remember it clearly, especially because when I was home on leave having completed Air Force basic training, I climbed a tree in the front yard to inspect a squirrel nest and had to holler for help from Victor, your husband and my brother-in-law—he brought a ladder and helped me down from my lofty perch!

This coming December will mark the thirteenth year since you left us. My family and I have passed the time peacefully—very little fuss or muss. We have health problems, of course, the young ‘uns as well as those of advanced ages. I know there are no health problems where you are, and no calendars or clocks—there would be no need for them.

I can capsule the major changes in my family rather quickly, changes that have come about since you left. Important changes for my girls include Kelley’s marriage in 1998 and the subsequent births of a boy and a girl. The boy is now eight and the girl is 6 years old. They live in a nice Dallas suburb and are doing well.

Debbie lives just one mile from us. She works at one of our local schools and loves her job. Landen, her son, was graduated from high school last year and is continuing his education at the University of Texas at San Antonio—UTSA. Lauren, his older sister, was graduated by UTSA this year. Her degree is in Early Childhood Development—she is great with children and seems happy with her work with a local Child Care center.

Cindy and Michael are a properly married couple as of last October, still living, loving and working in Northern Virginia. As you will probably remember, they had been a committed couple for many years, a total of twenty years prior to their marriage—they finally put it on paper! They seem very happy—no children, but they have two cats on which they shower all the love and rights and benefits that would be accorded children.

I won’t be able to bring you up to date on your family—you are probably more up to date than I am. I can’t tell you much about your sons, Wayne and Lynn, but I believe that Lynn still lives in South Korea and Wayne still lives in Maryland. I know very little about the boys and their families, but I imagine that you are watching over them—I want to believe you are, and because of that it takes very little imagination! I also know very little about your daughters or their families. I haven’t seen them since we were all together at your funeral. I talk to Toni infrequently on the phone, and exchange e-mails with Vickie even more infrequently.

Jessie, I’m writing this letter for the purpose of recording some of our mutual history in response to my daughters’ request to learn more about their aunts and uncles and cousins. As I continue with my writing I realize that it makes me feel I am in some way connected with you—if you would like to respond to this letter in some fashion, please do so—trust me, I’m up for it, and as the television commercial says, I’ll leave the light on for you!

This is the third letter I have written. The first was to Hattie, our sister that lived only one day—you probably won’t remember her. She was our mother’s second child, born in 1917, so you would have been only two years old at the time. Had she lived she perhaps could have shared some of your responsibilities as the eldest of six children. Looking back on those years, I know that it was tough for you, but you willingly shouldered those tasks and thereby took some of the weight off our mother’s shoulders. My letter to Hattie is posted on my Word Press blog and can be found here.

It’s odd, but I rarely heard any of my siblings talk about our father—a bit from Larry, a bit from Lorene and nothing from you. Most of what I know about Willis I learned from our mother, and I never heard anything positive. There must have been something other than the negative things, given the fact that our mother birthed seven children for him.

I wish you had told me about the incident in the garden between our dad and you, his teenage daughter. Mama said that he gave you an order and you did not comply quickly enough, so he beat you with one of the wooden stakes, or poles, used for growing beans to climb on—unmercifully, I believe, was the word mama used.

I also wrote a letter to Larry, our brother. You may have been looking over my shoulder when I wrote it, just as you may be looking over my shoulder as I write this letter to you. You can read the letter to Larry here. I was recently contacted by Larry’s daughter Deanna, and we are now friends on a web site called Facebook, a place on the internet where people can find new friends and chat with old friends—not necessarily old, of course! I have mixed emotions about the process, and am considering opting out of it.

I often wonder about Larry’s first wife, Toni, and their two sons, Troy and Marty. If she is still in this life, Toni would be about 86 years old now—you might want to check around to see if she is there with you—one never knows, right? I’m sure you remember that I lived with Larry and Toni for a couple of years or so in Suitland, Maryland. That was a hectic time in their marriage and I was caught in the middle of it. That was not unusual for me—things were hectic from the time Mama married Papa John until I enlisted in the military at the age of sixteen, a period of some seven years. The military provided the stability I needed. I finished growing up in the military, and as you know I stayed with it and retired after 22 years. I can proudly say that I assisted Uncle Sam in fighting two wars during that period, wars waged in Korea and in Vietnam. We lost both wars, but I will always be proud of my contributions to them.

Hey, big sis, this letter seems to have a mind of its own, and it’s getting far too long for a single posting. Let me close this one out and get back to you later with more details. There is so much to talk about—perhaps we should consider putting the letters in book form when I run out of words—if I ever run out of words, that is!

Lots of love,

Mike

 
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Posted by on August 2, 2010 in Family, marriage, Travel, Writing

 

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Re: October wedding, 2009 . . .

In October of 2009 there was a happening in Seguin, Texas involving the wedding of my middle daughter, the one that lives, loves and works in Alexandria, Virginia. She planned the event from start to finish, from A to Z—if there was anything connected to the event that she did not create or set up, I am not aware of it. It was a smashing success, a three-day event that took place on Lake Placid just south of the city of Seguin, an event that followed some 20 years of unwedded bliss—namely cohabitation—already enjoyed by the couple living, loving and working together, and they recently celebrated the first six months of their wedded bliss—as opposed to the twenty years of so of their unwedded bliss.

Prominent among the relatives and friends that attended the wedding was our niece Deanna, a comely young lady that came with her father Charles, my wife’s younger brother. They live in the small town of Pridgen in south Georgia—the state, not the European nation. Pridgen has a metropolitan population that fluctuates around twenty or so souls, all church-going hard-working folks that spend a lot of time praying for rain.

On their return home our niece sent us a very nice letter, an e-mail thanking us for everything. The purpose of this posting is to share her e-mail and \my response with all the friends, guests and relatives that found their way to the wedding, and also to share it with any visitors to my blog.

Her e-mail and my response follow. Her e-mail is in bold text and the italicized text is my response.

Hey, y’all,

Here’s  our “Hey, y’all” right back at you.

Wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving from a rainy South Georgia. Hoping for sunshine tomorrow.

And everyone here wishes the same Happy Thanksgiving to you and all of yours.

Daddy’s shirt made it safely home.

And Deb’s hoodie—hoody?—also made it back safely—she says thanks for sending it—our nights are dropping down to the forties and even the high thirties now, so she’ll probably be using it.

I can hardly believe a month has passed since we were in Texas.

Neither can we.

I really enjoyed my time there.

And we really enjoyed your being here—let’s do it again soon—not the marriage, just the visit.

Hope to visit again next year.

Next year, next month, next week or tomorrow, you’ll always be welcome—we’ll even leave the light on for you.

Thanks for making us truly feel at home.

You’re welcome—we felt the same way while you and your dad were here, and we felt the same way when we were with you and your dad at that impromptu reunion we had in metropolitan Pridgen.

The wedding was great and so glad I could be a part of it.

We agree—it was great, and we were glad you were here for it.

But for me it is these big moments in life that make the little moments even more special, like sitting around the table in your kitchen. Just talking about anything or really nothing at all.

And you thought I wasn’t listening while I was doing my kitchen chores—I heard everything—everything! Well, almost everything, except when I was watching TV and napping.

Uncle Mike, when I was little I respected you out of fear, but as an adult I respect you out of love.

And that’s probably the nicest and sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me—it stands at the very top of the list of other nice and sweet things that have been said to me—an extremely short list—in fact it stands alone. I printed out your e-mail for Alta to read and she came up with the phrase “nicest and sweetest,” and she agrees with me on the length of that list. Many times over my working years I heard this from those I had the misfortune to supervise: “That Dyer has a really sweet wife, but he’s a real p – – – k !

Oh, well —it may be lonely at the top, but the food’s better!

Tell Aunt Alta and everyone else Happy Thanksgiving and I love them.

I told Alta and I’ll tell everyone else as they gather today—I can assure you that everybody—they and I and all of us, love you right back. We will be thinking of you folks and wishing you the very best life has to offer as we tear into that 22-pound turkey now roosting in the oven—no, not roosting—I meant roasting.

And speaking of our neighbors—they are treating our family to three days at a posh resort just a few miles from home during spring break next year, just as they did this year—we had a great time. If you can time your next visit to that, you can join us—there’s always room for one more. You’ll need to bring your bikini, sunscreen and an appetite.

Signed:

Alta and Mike, Debbie and Bill and their devil cat, Lauren and Landen, Kelley and Brantley, Macie and Brennan and their new puppy, Cindy and Michael and both their cats, and Kathy and Kevin, our next door neighbors to the west of us, and their cat Ralph.

 
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Posted by on May 3, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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Royal reflections on a wedding . . .

The purpose of this posting is to formally offer my congratulations—somewhat belated—to my daughter Cindy and her husband Michael on their conversion, during my reign, of some 19 years of conjugal bliss to the status of a lawfully wedded couple under the auspices of the Great State of Texas, and to thank the many family members and friends that gathered for their wedding at a lakeside home in a rural province near San Antonio, Texas (the city of Seguin) in October of 2009. My expression of thanks is also somewhat belated—hey, being the King of Texas is not an easy job—I’m sure you’ve all heard the expression, Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown!

Check out my Royal Reflections here:

https://thekingoftexas.wordpress.com/about/

Beautiful photos and a cogent analysis of details—intelligent even—of the wedding may be found at:

http://cindyandmichael.wordpress.com/ (Come on, join the party—a trip to Seguin is well worth your while).

And you owe it to yourselves to view and enjoy some of the world’s finest photography here:

http://cindydyer.wordpress.com/

A letter to my daughter

Dear Cindy,

I have never seen, nor do I expect to see in the future, a more beautiful assemblage of people than those you brought together for your wedding, regardless of the venue. The beauty of that event—the families of the bride and groom, their guests and their families and the many unrelated friends that came from far and wide to honor the event—has no parallel, at least not for me, and not at this point in my lifetime of memories.

A parallel may appear at some time in the future, but I doubt it. In my learned opinion the assemblage of people at your wedding ranks right up there—nay, surpasses—that of Hollywood’s Academy Awards, the Cannes film festival, the Country Music Awards, People magazine’s Most Beautiful People issue, and any other ranking of beautiful people that may exist.

For the benefit of any doubters that may find their way to this posting, I hasten to add that beauty, as applied to people, begins internally—it comes from the inner being and appears to others as a mirrored reflection of one’s soul (dang, I love it when I talk like that!).

As for Photoshop’s contribution to the event, I give it a total of one percent with the remaining 99 percent attributed to the talents and superhuman work you and Michael and others expended to make your wedding a success. Had I worn a vest, I would probably take that one percent contribution away from Photoshop and give you the full one hundred percent.

Your wedding gathering was—and in memories and printed images still is—a wondrous assemblage of a royal family and others. It showcases the bride and groom, the king and queen, the royal minister and his wife, the royal family’s members including our princesses and princes and their families, the bride groom’s family, and other friends and families from near and far, both in time and distance.


The assemblage included court jesters and noble knights, lovely and loving couples, cruel temptresses and impossible loves. I won’t linger on the cruel temptresses and impossible loves, but you can be assured that such may have been present—they can be found in any significant gathering of people, beautiful and otherwise.

I used the term assemblage because its definition best describes your wedding. I only added the term event to a machine or object: Assemblage: a machine or object or event made of pieces fitted together, as in a vast assemblage of gears and cogs, a work of art made by grouping found or unrelated objects—the action of gathering or fitting things together. The phrase a work of art says it all—that definition satisfies the most exacting critic of all—the King of Texas!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 

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