Friday, November 27, 2009

Dear T. F.

Here we are enduring a somewhat stressful holiday week at Rose's old homestead. I won't go into all the details now, partly because it's not really my story to tell. But as I told my own folks during this past week: when we moved to Morgantown, it was difficult, challenging, and stressful--because change is all of those things. But now we're being reminded that change that isn't planned and isn't voluntary can be even more difficult, challenging, and stressful.

But of course there's some good with the bad, in all sorts of ways, and we try to take the comfort from that that we can. There's been a lot of family togetherness, and many family reminiscences have been bouncing around in the air, and I thought I'd post one I found especially sweet, Rose's note to the tooth fairy (oh-so-familiarly addressed as "T. F."), from a time maybe only a few years before her dad's first round of cancer. Although it's hard to keep in mind, it's also hard not to be thankful that he's had what seems like a thirty-five year reprieve, including a happily busy retirement of around twenty years.

But let's focus, rather, on Rose's note, which I find thoroughly amusing, sweet, and charming, although I know that she thinks it makes her sound pushy and demanding ("PLEASE GIVE ME 25c!"). But to me it reads like a perfect little poem:

I lost my tooth while brushing it;
It went right down the drain.
And when I thought about it,
It gave me such a pain.
Please give me 25c.

In an old diary that Rosemary has from about the same period, she has an entry that reads something like this, "I had a bad day; I spilled a lot of things." And even now, spilling things is still a sign of a bad day for Rosemary, and I marvel to recall how much she must share with the little girl who wrote these things. And I also try to help her keep from spilling things as much as I can, although I'm not always successful. Who could be? And anyway, sometimes things spill all on their own, despite anything we can do.

And while I've never really fancied myself a poet, and it may just be the stress of recent events, I can't help but thinking, somehow, that many poems might be usefully ended with the simple honesty and directness of Rose's note to the tooth fairy: "Please give me 25c." Offhand, at least, I can't think of a single poem that it might not improve. I don't know if the tooth fairy came through with the quarter or not, but Rose's parents have kept the note for almost forty years: and this week, that seems like an otherworldly gift of far greater value.

3 comments:

Jim said...

That's some good writin', Tom. Best wishes from all of us to all of you. Or however you say that. Thoughtfulness is not my native language.

Christy said...

This is a gorgeous paean to a beautiful person. It's so nice to think of Rosemary so loved at such a difficult time.

jane kokernak said...

I like this no frills writing, Tom, that evokes a lot. And the artifact!