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July 15, 2024

Letters from Home

By Harvey Silverman

The box had remained undisturbed and usually unnoticed in the corner for a couple of years. Finally one quiet afternoon I sat down and began to go through its contents which had been haphazardly collected from my late folks' home; the box contained an assortment of papers, documents, photos and the like.

Suddenly it was 1956 again and I was ten years old. It was my first year at overnight summer camp, the first time I had been away from home without my folks, and it was to last four long weeks. The camp was in the woods, the accommodations could be kindly termed rustic, the amenities few, the food sometimes unpalatable. Some of the other kids, especially the veteran campers, were intimidating, threatening. I was immediately homesick.

In the box I had come upon a collection of letters my mom had written to me that summer at camp. She wrote often, happenings from home, news of the Red Sox, greetings from Teacup, our pet parakeet, the weather. There were the motherly concerns, gently stated, was I eating well, was I warm enough at night, should she send another sweatshirt. And the motherly advice, be a good boy.

I recalled how I had looked forward to the day's mail and how comforting her letters were, how they had helped me get past those first days of insecurity and homesickness, and how even after I was settled, happy, and enjoying camp they kept me connected to the security of family and home. I had saved them all, had brought them home and they had been put away and not seen again for more than half a century. Now I had found and read them, each one, and then put them away again, happy and content with the memories.

But just a few days later, contemplating my reading of those letters, I had a reaction, almost an epiphany, that went beyond happy and content. I could feel, viscerally feel, my mom's love. I had not, I could not at age ten appreciate how much pure and simple love was contained in those letters. At age sixty-six I had first read them from the perspective of a memory of childhood. But now there it was, a mother's love, Mom's love, warm and doting and embracing. As I contemplated it further, I realized for the first time it had not been just me who had dealt with the angst of separation. It had been so for my mom as well, her only child away from home, away from her for the first time.

There is no grieving or sorrow when I think of my mom and those letters. Love, that real yet intangible something, connects us still, her love for the ten-year-old me and the sixty-six-year-old. And mine for her.

Originally appeared in print in Door is a Jar.

Article © Harvey Silverman. All rights reserved.
Published on 2021-05-03
Image(s) are public domain.
1 Reader Comments
Steve Foster
02:56:04 PM
Poignant. I wish that I had saved those letters.
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