Jorja was at her mom’s in less than a half hour and already deep in conversation and cleaning, when she remembered what Maureen had said when she called.
“Mom, what did you want me to get out of the attic?”
“Oh, yeah. That was why I called. When you get to the top of the stairs, there’s a cardboard box way over to the left. It’s got “LETTERS” wrote on it in black magic marker. Get that box and bring it down.”
Jorja climbed the dusty, dimly lit steps to the attic door. It looked as though there hadn’t been anybody up here in years. The attic door wasn’t locked, and she swung it open with little effort.
At least it’s not rusty or jammed.
As she flipped on the light switch, her eyes adjusted to the dim light and she could see that clutter covered the whole room. Instead of one cardboard box there were at least twenty, scattered in every direction.
Poor Mom. She’s forgotten what a mess it is up here…let’s see…a box marked “LETTERS”…
Jorja poked around for about fifteen minutes and finally located the box Maureen wanted. It looked like it was about to fall apart and you could barely see the lettering underneath the dust. Jorja picked it up carefully, and went back downstairs.
“I found it. But it doesn’t look like it’s gonna hold together much longer – have you got another plastic bin we can put this stuff in? What’s in it, anyway?”
“Those are all the letters you wrote to your Dad, Jorja. Every single one of them is in that box. He saved them all, and when he passed, I put them in the attic. I’ve just been waiting for the day I could pass them on to you. So, there they are, honey. Your Daddy kept them safe and sound, waiting on you.”
There were tears in Maureen’s eyes as she thought about Tom. Although it had been years since his passing, there was never a day she didn’t miss him and looking at the letters just brought fresh sorrow to her heart and her eyes.
“Oh, Momma.” Jorja too, was on the verge of tears. She hadn’t thought about the letters in years. She never dreamed her Dad kept any of them, much less all of them.
“He wanted you to have them, would have given them to you himself…if circumstances had been different. I wanted to wait til you came home. Really home and until you finally had a permanent place to put them. So, now they’re yours.”
“You know Jorja, me and your Daddy loved both you girls, but your Daddy always had a special feelin’ for you, thought you hung the moon…he missed you somethin’ fierce when you left. The co-op was never the same for him once you were gone. He still loved his job, don’t get me wrong, but the magic of going with you…well, that was over. Those letters lit him up every time one came in the mail. He’d read it over and over. Find something new to tell me every time he read over one.”
Jorja couldn’t stop the flow of tears at this point. Whether it was the thought of her Dad, the overwhelming weekend, or just the lonesomeness she knew her mother must have felt, or maybe all of it, she and Maureen shared a good cry for several minutes.
Then, as if a light switch went off, Maureen seemed to move on. Her next sentence was about the mess in the kitchen.
Jorja was caught completely off guard, once again, by the turn in the conversation and she wondered what was happening in her Mother’s head.
Something is not quite right with Mom. I just don’t know what.
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