The Postcard

Monday Morning Musings:

My husband found a postcard from my dad.

It lay hidden in plain view

Among old papers and road maps

To places that may no longer exist

Except in our minds.

How long had it been there

Waiting to be rediscovered?

A record of the past,

A time capsule

Compressed into a flat rectangle.

Once it had traveled across the United States,

Now it carries me through time.

It was strange to read his words,

To see his handwriting

When he has been gone so many years.

He had been traveling out west.

He wrote of the sights.

He wrote that he needed to see

His ophthalmologist when he returned.

He wrote that he would see us soon,

And signed it “Dad/Grandpop Lee.”

It was a typical postcard.

Nothing profound.

Nothing remarkable.

But striking now

Because the words were his

And I pictured him writing them

and

Heard his voice in my head.

A shadow world between then

And now

Where both exist for a split second,

The time it takes for a memory to surface

And go.

I went looking for the postcard today,

But it has vanished.

Perhaps it was merely a reminder

Of the ephemeral nature

Of life

Of words

Of memories, too.

Perhaps it was a reminder

To cherish the memories

Of those long gone,

But to savor the present

With those who are with us.

Update: The day after I wrote this. I saw the postcard propped up on top of the roll top desk in our dining room. I’m certain I looked there. . .

The Vanishing Postcard from my dad.

The Vanishing Postcard from my dad.

My dad and I when I received my Ph.D.

My proud dad with me when I received my Ph.D. about two years before the postcard.

©Merril D. Smith

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18 thoughts on “The Postcard

  1. I can’t quite describe what I feel. Some day, I hope my daughter finds a postcard from me too. I used to love writing old fashioned mail.. not the e-kind.. and I would still love to, except, I cannot write very well any more. Call it conceit, but I loved my handwriting and the stylish script. And also, no one wants handwritten stuff any more. So sad. Maybe this is a good, bitter-sweet thing, that you can speak about it and make people aware of the value of such things. There is nothing like a hand-written note or letter. Thank you for such wonderful thoughts.. I am a little nostalgic these days. But then, these things are worth their weight in gold, what you have written… Thank you…

    • Thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful comment, Tejaswi. It is sad that letters and notes are no longer handwritten very often–when you do receive one, it feels extra special, doesn’t it? I don’t know your family situation, but I hope your daughter also one day finds a postcard from you, and I hope you will send her one anyway, even if your handwriting is not what it once was.

  2. How lovely Merril thank you! I have all my handwritten correspondence from my parents and I sometimes wonder (when I check them out) at the similarities of my handwriting to theirs’ which makes me wonder more …
    I’ll always keep their letters, my sons letters too … handmade birthday cards, the lot.

    • How wonderful that you have these things, Susan. I don’t have any of that. I really wish I still had the letters my grandfather wrote to me when I was in college. They were one long run-on sentence in his phonetic English.

  3. How interesting that the ephemera we find years later reminds us of the ephemeral nature of life. You know, of course, how well these lovely poetic lines remind me of my reflection in prose last week. Hidden in plain view, exactly.

    And a moment of synchronicity too!

    • Yes, indeed, Marian. Thank you.
      I had two toddlers when the postcard first arrived, and now they are married women. I’m sure that I was happy to hear from my dad, but seeing the postcard now is entirely different.

  4. Beautiful reflection, and very true. We don’t know what people might think when they find reminders years later. You made me think about my Dad, who sadly passed away a few months ago. Real postcards are hardly used now… Sad.

  5. You put your thoughts and words together so beautifully. You touched my heart. I am struggling with this comment — unsure of what to write or add to it — so I’ll leave it at that.

  6. Merril, this made me very teary. Finding a memento like this can be a portal into a world with our loved one(s). I’m so sorry you had to lose him too soon, but so happy you were able to “take this trip” with him.

  7. I had a relationship with my Dad that I suspect you had with yours. And this postcard, the finding of his writing and his love to you, well, it touched me.

    I have an old address book where I shoved a few old letters. Ordinary ones. Chatty. Newsy. Nothing earth shattering. When I see my Dad’s writing, I feel liek I’m back there, getting it when he’d just sent it.

    I worry about this generation of folks who only get emails and texts. Because they won’t have the same ability to bring back the moment …

    Thanks for the follow of my blog. I look forward to getting to know you!

    • Thanks so much, Elyse, for your comment. I’m glad the post touched you, and thanks for the follow, as well. It is special to find old letters–it’s as though you’re transported back to the past for a few moments.

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