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This post has been sitting in my draft folder since December 2015, just a short month after Dad passed. It hasn’t felt right to publish it until now. ♡
I’ve been thinking about you and Dad and our family.
In particular, I’ve been thinking about how Dad and I could just sit in the same room, not saying anything, yet somehow be on the same page. And I’ve been thinking about some of the conversations Dad and I have had over the years and I think there are at least seven things that Dad would want you to know.
I’ve listed them below in the form of a letter to you from Dad.
Meine Liebe Salat Schnecke,
1. Don’t ever doubt how much I loved you
Remember our Wedding night? It wasn’t a fancy party. We did the best we could though and we had fun right? I can still see you running through the street singing in the middle of the night when you’d had a little too much to drink.
What the neighbours must have thought!
But I didn’t care, you seemed happy and honestly Margot, I may not have been able to express myself well, but that’s what I wanted for you. I always wanted you to be happy.
I knew how hard your life had been, I wanted to show you how good it could be.
Remember when we arrived in Canada and once we got on our feet a bit? You have no idea how happy it made me to see you eat butter, eat at a restaurant, eat fruit and cakes and whatever you could get your hands on. Remember that time I brought a dozen lemon donuts home when you were pregnant and you ate 11 of them? I didn’t mind that there was only one donut left for me.
It made me smile to watch you eat all the foods you missed in your childhood.
2. Building our family
I know you were scared and so determined that our children would never be harmed like you had been. I was shocked that time you would even think I might hurt them but I grew to understand where this fear came from. I loved our kids – I would have done anything for them, and I think I was able to convince you of that with time, right?
No regrets Margot. Don’t ever underestimate the value of what we were able to give our kids. Sure we weren’t perfect parents, we made mistakes along the way, but we did everything to the best of our ability for them and I think they turned out pretty good, don’t you?
3. Our 50th anniversary
Wasn’t that a fun party, Margot? I was so excited to celebrate with you. You looked so beautiful in that blue dress, I was so proud beside you in my new suit. And look how many friends came to celebrate with us!
And our trip to Germany! Yes Canada was our home now, but how wonderful it was to go to the place where we met and married to celebrate our 50th.
4. You were a real handful sometimes
A fighter. A hard worker. You had fire in your eyes!
Yeah there were times I wished you would just calm down, relax a little. Just let go of stuff, but maybe it was your pushing that got us as far as we got. And even when you were angry, I knew it was because you were afraid that things wouldn’t work out – those ghosts from the past were haunting you. I knew that you were fighting for the very best.
And you know what? I think I may have originally been drawn to that about you. You have spunk!
I mean who else would have moved to a new country, not knowing the language to start a new life with me? I chose well. You were the right partner for me.
You worked just as hard as me. Remember our job at that summer camp? Picking apples? Making hats? And all the other jobs we had until I got that job at Kraft Foods and we bought our first home? And even then you cleaned houses to help out with the expenses. Yes we worked hard for what we built.
Maybe I could have been more supportive at times. Like when you were seasick on our voyage to Canada or when you broke your ankle. Maybe I could have told you more how much I appreciated you. I just never was one for words. But make no mistake; I was grateful and I really cared about you, even if I wasn’t very good at saying it.
6. The last few years
I know how hard it was for you to watch me on the couch in pain. It was hard for me too. I wanted to be healed. And sometimes you made me angry when you pushed so hard for me to get up or exercise. But when I would think about it, I knew you were scared. I knew you meant well.
But the hardest thing, Margot was to see what my poor health was doing to you. You were so brave. That’s why I tried so hard to be brave too. That’s why I tried not to complain even when I couldn’t drive the car anymore. You did everything. I really wish I could have helped around the house more. I was so sure I would get better and things would go back to normal. But I didn’t. I’m so sorry things didn’t work out the way we had hoped. If I had known that I wouldn’t get better, perhaps we could have made arrangements that would have made the last years easier for both of us.
7. Now that I’m gone
Our last few years together were hard, and I am so thankful for all you did for me. I know you’re sad and that you must grieve – after all we spent 56 years together, one doesn’t get over that quickly. But don’t just remember the last years. Remember the fun times. The family vacations. The German Club New Year’s dances. When I taught you how to drive. Those nights we walked around the block when the kids were in bed.
And don’t grieve too long. There is so much more for you to experience. Spend time with our kids, our grandkids, our wonderful friends. Get back out there doing the stuff you love to do. Simplify your life. Laugh, live and love. Life is far too precious to do otherwise. Grab onto life with both hands and enjoy it as much as you can. And know that when your time comes, I’ll be here, waiting for you.
Dein Mann, Heinz