OCOB LETTER WRITING WORKSHOP
As part of One County, One Book, local writer, poet and storyteller, Miki Conn, held a letter writing workshop for four Saturdays during the month of March, 2019. Participants were encouraged to use letter writing as a tool for sharing important ideas and experiences with someone, while at the same time, clarifying their own thoughts.
We are pleased to offer two of the letters written during the program:
From Marilyn Zacco:
Dear Uncle John,
Like every other human, my life has been a series of ups and downs, the preverbal roller coaster, and a cliché. Thinking back, I’m astounded I made it this far. Thinking back, I see I have not done it alone. A million guardians, who were with me for a moment or for years, have helped me along the way. You my dear Uncle shine as bright as any shining star, that ever lit my way.
I remember your reaction when you saw my head after my car accident, when I was 15. It was so wonderful. When you saw the wide shaved path, in my long hair, made for the stitches; I heard you say, “…very funny you folks. You don’t think you can fool me with a fake head wound do you? That’s not very nice” Donna Dae, Mom, and I quickly convinced you it was really-real.
Your reaction was great. You had to give the injury a full examine, even gently touching the jagged five inch row of stitches that went from just above my forehead to my crown. It was as if you couldn’t trust your eyes to tell the truth. You needed a second opinion from your sense of touch. You then said, “Agha that is terrible” That comment went straight to my heart and with a tiny electric jolt, freed me from the need to be strong.
First I laughed then I cried a little, tears of self-pity and of relief. I could just relax. For the first time in two days I felt like I could breath. I could stop being the tin man and be the cowardly lion. Until you, everyone had been pussy footing about, not acting like themselves. It was hard for me, cause I wanted to be real strong, and I felt so guilty for causing everyone’s discomfort. It was such a relief to have someone say the truth out loud. You pretty much spoke everyone’s thoughts, “that head is one nasty mess.”
You have given aid and comfort to my needy self for over 70 years. Even before you married into the family. There were lots of fun times too. Remember when we put three table spoons of chili powder in the chili instead of three teaspoons? Someone dubbed it volcanic chili, saying “it exploded in your mouth and burned out your throat.” (That was such an exaggeration. It was hot but mostly edible. If you didn’t eat a lot.) Folks teased us for ages about it.
Bunka, beside an uncle you have been a surrogate father, a friend, a confident and someone I love and respect. I truly hope you know everyone in this family thinks of you the very same way I do. That goes right down to your great great nephew Max. Also, I know you won’t think my writing this letter out of the blue is weird. You’ll know I thought it was just time it had to be done.
As always your loving niece,
From Miranda Rand:
I write this in love, not to harass or criticize.
You had a landmark birthday a few months ago and for the first time in a long time you faced the possibility of celebrating it on your own. You were in a time of transition having recently been filed with divorce papers after more than fifteen years of cohabitation and with your home on the market. Your wife had left after some years of shaming and recrimination. I was sorry but not surprised. She had spent a lot of time complaining to me about you! At the last minute your step-daughter, more on your side than on her mom’s, invited your son and a few of your friends and celebrated your birthday with a party at the bar she works for. I am glad for that.
As you embark on your third serious relationship I want to write a word of gentle warning. You have a compulsive personality and you are socially insecure. You use food, alcohol and tobacco to settle that dis-ease and you use it to a fault. Your new woman, J. seems like a pleasant, caring person. Take this relationship seriously, care for her and treat her well. Listen to her and try to hear what she likes and dislikes about the way you treat her.
I am disturbed that you have resumed drinking, even if for the moment it is only two or three a night. When you and I met just before Thanksgiving you had given up drinking, you had lost weight and you looked SO much better. When we met last week you had J. with you. I listened to your banter back and forth and I heard the same note of reproach (albeit couched more gently than it was by your two ex-wives), concerning your use/abuse of alcohol, food and tobacco and I groaned inwardly.
You have made the decision to move in with J. Please be mindful that it is an adjustment for her too. She is welcoming you into her space. She works three jobs to sustain herself debt-free after being abandoned by her ex. You are now commuting an hour each way to work vs. ten minutes. You are now sharing a much smaller space with a woman and two large dogs. You have only known each other for three or four months.
At the mid-point in your life, I urge you to come to terms with your bad habits/additions and get help. It is not an easy thing to do and it will take determination and maturity. Your father never quite grew up and I put up with it because he was at heart a good person and I knew he cared deeply for me, as I did for him. He didn’t smoke but he did consume way too much alcohol and despite doctors’ directives, he had no use for healthy eating. Perhaps I set a bad example of what a “good wife” looked like. I was too accepting and agreeable. 21st century women are more demanding, more worldly-wise and much less tolerant than I was!
You have good taste. You choose women who are pretty, socially graceful and fun-loving. You also instinctively pick women who have mental and/or emotional impairments – perhaps this bolster s your ego. Initially, I believe, it makes you feel needed and “in control,” you are nurturing and sympathetic. When the novelty wears off you develop your own set of bad-ass friends and abandon the boredom of domesticity in favor of excitement. Even the healthier and more recreational aspects of this excitement embrace heavy alcohol consumption. I’m sorry but this is not a responsible way of life, it’s immature and irresponsible.
I love you and I want good things for you. I worry about your well-being, emotional and physical both. I urgently encourage you to find a way to come to terms with your compulsions, to recognize and deal with your inner demons. Join AA or get counseling, treat J. with the respect she deserves, understand her limitations even as you understand your own and recognize the part you play in the success or dissolution of your relationships. Remember, it takes two to tango!
Hugs galore, Mom