Tuesday, July 21, 2015

A hard letter to write

The harshest, most demanding thing a writer faces is a blank page, whether it be paper or computer screen. The advice to "just put something down" helps a bit for novel writing, but how about a letter to be read 17 years from now?

Our grandson Grayson will be one year old this weekend. His parents want to make a time capsule for him to be opened on his 18th birthday. They've requested letters, thoughts, from his grandparents and family. I extended the invitation one more generation to his great-grands and a great-aunt. Grayson will have a pack of reading to do.

I think it's a clever idea. I'm happy to try to impart some grandparental wisdom that, over the course of the next 17 years, he may have heard before. But it's one thing in theory and it's another in practice.

I stared at a blank sheet of paper. Pen in hand, I started with "To Grayson on his 18th birthday from his grandmother." That's as far as I got for a while.

All sorts of thoughts crowded in. In 2032, when Grayson is 18, I'll be 81. If I'm still alive--and I'm planning on it, let me assure you--will I even know him? Will he have had opportunities to know me? Will we share secrets, well kept from our "common enemy," his parents? Will his future truly be as bright as I want it to be? Will his troubles just circle around girls and cars and whatever social media has yet to be invented? Will he be college-ready? Will he strive to fulfill the potential to be all that we want him to be?

Does anybody?

I wrote the letter, signed it. Reread it a day later and sealed the envelope. I think the most important thing I wrote was that I loved him. And in the end, now or in 17 years, that's what counts the most.

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