Monday, June 6, 2022

 Dear Henry,

Sixteen Years.

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day you left us. I want to tell you about how we’re doing. Well,

maybe just how I’m doing, since I can’t speak for everyone.

I get along ok. I used to think that I could never be happy again, but it’s not true. I have many many

happy moments and days. It is true that there is an underlying fault line; it’s always there and I can feel

it most of the time. But I don’t get shaken up by the earthquake of absolute horror over your leaving us

very often. It’s there. I just stay away from it until I’m caught off guard by something, then I fall. But

I get back up again, shake it off, and get going back on the road.

Your dad cries often over you still – he’s getting more emotional as he gets older.

We all talk about you as much as we can. We remember the fun and funny things about you, and all the

cleverness you had and the sweet warmth that you gave to us all. We don’t avoid the word “suicide”

and we still talk sometimes about how things might have been different. But, no, don’t worry, I don’t

wallow in the “what-if’s” so much anymore. The whole thing is so complicated, how could we ever

know if it was just the Prozac? And as much as it is tempting to blame ourselves, it’s not healthy to do

that and we just won’t.

I still feel confused when I’m planning family events. Your missing place throws my count off every time. 

I am hopeless with numbers and getting worse every year.

Most of the time when someone asks how many children we have I answer “three.” I just don’t feel

like getting into it with someone I don’t know very well.

We haven’t yet talked to Isaac very much about you. I hope one day he’ll give us the chance. I’ll talk

his ear off about you, the real you. I hope some day he’ll want all the scrapbooks and things I have.

They should be in his hands. But if he doesn’t, I know your sister and brothers would love to have

them after your dad and I are gone.

Losing you was such a horror, Henry. It’s not like when my parents died. Your Grandma Case’s death

at 55 was terrible, and your poor Grandpa Case suffered so badly from Parkinson’s before he died at

84. But the grief I felt at their passing did not flatten me and toss me into an abyss like your death did.

And, sweetheart, I don’t blame you. Hear me now, I don’t blame you. You were not in your right

mind. If only I could hold you and comfort you right now. How I long to do that. But we will greet

each other with joy one day in the Great Beyond, where God will wipe away all our tears. And I do

feel sometimes that you are close to me. Thank you for that, sweet Henry. I love you.

Mama Pajama


Sunday, November 12, 2017

Snapshot from February 1981

I wrote this note to Jim back in 1981.  I don't think he was out of town; I think I just wrote it and put it his lunch bag or something.  At this time, we lived in our friends Tom and Liz Head's house, in the Garthwick neighborhood in Sellwood.  It was pretty much above our station, but Tom and Liz were gracious enough to rent it to us while they were away at school.  Patrick was not born yet - he was still 10 months away.  I was 30 years old, not working at the shop at this point, but being a stay-at-home mom.  Henry was 1, Myra was 6, and Saul was 5.  Jim was 32.

2/24/81 1 pm

Dear Jim,

You are holding in your beautiful hand a letter from Patty written on Coffee Man stationery.  This is truly your lucky day, for I am not a bill collector (rather, I am an impediment to bill paying) and I am not a complaining letter writer.  However, I just want to say, for your own information, that I'm disappointed to see you make the big time, I liked your old place better, and your apricot tea is even creepier than you think it is. I don't usually do this sort of thing but I just wanted you to know.

Now I'll stop trying to be funny.

I know this is a little bit silly writing to you, but I hope it it gives you a lift.

Either Henry is poopy or my beans are getting real.  He is tearing a napkin into little pieces and throwing them all around the room.  He seems to find this educational and very serious.

Have you ever wondered what I do all day?  Well, here is a sample schedule:

Patty's Typical Day

7:30 am:      After you leave, I rush about getting Myra off and Henry fed.  Myra leaves at 8:10.
8-9 am:         Shower, make bed, change kids' sheets, start laundry
9-10:30  am: Henry naps, I sweep and sometimes mop, do dishes, make bread, get another load in the washer.  Saul goofs around and asks me to buy him stuff.
10:30 - 2:  Get Henry up, put away laundry, fix lunch, put Saul to bed, play with Henry, put Henry to bed 2 pm.
2-3 pm: PEACE. Read, write letters, do obsessive type housework, etc.
3 until Jim comes home: All hell breaks loose.  Myra comes home, Saul and Henry wake up, FIGHTS, I start dinner and yell a lot, sometimes we go for a walk.  Then sweet Jimo comes home and throttles all the naughty people and we all settle down

Now that's what I call TV!

I guess I'm writing a letter when I should be playing with Henry.  Uh oh.

I love you, honey.  If this letter was fun for you to read, I'll be glad.

Henry IS poopy.  I"ll change him now and then send him off to play with our cast iron lawn dog.  It is so good with the children.


Love, She Who Must Be Obeyed

PS.  I've discovered that no one else lives in our neighborhood but us and Mrs. Cook.  No wonder perhaps!