|My father, Jose, me and to right, my sister, Donna, 1956|
My parents divorced soon after we moved to Michigan from Texas in 1961. I was six years old at the time.I saw my father a few times through the years. He moved around quite a bit, living at various times in Michigan or in Chicago, with his brother. Once when I was ten, my sisters and I stayed with him there. Another time he took me to lunch at Woolworth’s and bought me my first record album by “The Loving Spoonfuls” for my 13th birthday. My father passed away almost 46 years ago this month. The record album and the few photographs my mother gave me are the only mementos I have. As for memories of him,
as I edge closer to my 60th year, my recollections of him are fading.
While thinking of what remembrances I had of him, it occurred to me that I didn’t have any letters from him. Letters are something to keep and it would have been nice to have one. But I think I know why he never wrote us letters.
Growing up in rural Joyce, Texas in the 1920’s, he had to work in the fields to help out his family. Thus he quit school in the fourth grade. He wasn’t stupid, though and he could read. His favorite thing to read were detective stories, in Spanish. He had a keen mind and my mother said he was good at math. They owned at various times, a grocery store and a small tavern back in the 40s, and did his own books. She said he did write out short lists, sounding out the words phonically. In retrospect, as we were kind of a sarcastic lot, my siblings and I probably made fun of his efforts to spell. To have tried writing me a long letter probably would have been an embarrassment and he was a proud man. Maybe this is what kept him from writing letters to me. I don't have the answer to that question, I can only guess.
But if he had written me a letter, I would have kept it safe amongst my cache of photos, unfolding it and reading it from time to time; or framing it like a priceless artwork, it for all to see. The lesson I learned? Well besides of course how important it is to get a good education, for everyone. I think its just being grateful for time spent with loved ones. You may never get the chance to thank them or tell them how much they mean to you….so to hang onto those letters when you get them. They are a part of history. Your history and in time, maybe even the history of a nation. You never know.