Mark Twain

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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Girl Scout and the Daughter


I did my time at being a girl scout! I wasn't a ardent girl scout, but the choices of organized activities for kids wasn't so great then as it is today. I still have my sash with the badges that I am wearing in this picture, but since my stupid camera is broken I cannot provide the picture proof (13 days).

But I have something even more special from that time than a girl scout sash ... a hand written note from my father to me.

I should explain about my father.

Dad died in 1970. He was an alcoholic. As is typical for the family members of alcoholics, we didn't share that fact publicly. It was something you hid. And you made excuses to cover that fact that you couldn't have sleep overs or any other typical kids-focused activities at your house. I didn't think of it as so unusual at the time because I grew up with those normal pieces always missing from my life. You don't miss something you didn't have in the first place.

His disease did not impact the supervisory job he held until his death ... it impacted only his family. And even to this day when we are more enlightened about this disease, I wasn't sure what to share and what to avoid in giving this information. But for you to understand just how special the hand written note from my father was ... you need to know the back story.

And the back story is that when he was sober he was the most charming, loving, warm father you could ever want. I have those wonderful memories along with the ugly ones. So when you read this note - this was the man my mom fell in love with and had children with. The "other" man had an illness that was not well understood at the time.

One other thing ... he wasn't an educated person. He finished school, but his interest wasn't in learning or reading. I don't believe he had any interests outside of his job. We have nothing else of his. He had no collections or cherished possessions with which to remember him. What I have inherited are mostly memories - and many of those are filled with unhappiness. But I have this letter, and it is a reminder that all people are multifaceted. This letter allows me to remember his good side and that he loved his family.

And so ... Dad always left for work very early in the morning, before we were out of bed. The morning he wrote this note and left it for me, he was responding to a stack of items on the kitchen table that I was going to take on a Girl Scout camping trip that day. He mentions Lucky who was our dog at the time. To stop and write this note was something way out of the ordinary for him.

The paper has not withstood the test of time very well. It is yellowed and split at one of the folds. I am sure Dad used some dime store pad that was just laying around in the kitchen. But the words and the emotions expressed still resonate with me 41 years after his death.

It was a message to just me, and it was not tarnished by alcohol.

Thanks, Dad.


9 comments:

  1. This story must have been so difficult for you to write, but you still managed to capture it so eloquently. This shows how much your dad really loved you, and had times been different, he may have been able to get the help he needed. You could've easily gone down a different path, but you still turned out to be an exceptional wife and daughter. Julie

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  2. That was a very special message from your Dad to you. Thank you for sharing it with us.
    Back in the day there wasn't much support for those with addictions and people did just what you said, tried to hide it. Sometimes successfully sometimes not so much. Families had to be very strong.
    I'm glad that you have this memory of the good times with your Dad and that you don't seem to be dwelling on the harder times.

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  3. What a special treasure you have. He could never have known how much it would mean to you, just a little gesture on his part.
    Thanks for sharing it and the story that goes along with it.

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  4. It is good that you have some happy memories of your dad too. It must make this note to you very special.

    I was never a girl scout but I was a brownie!

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  5. I remember your dad at warm and charming - our dads were definitely brothers in more ways than one! What a wonderful letter to have in addition to the good memories.

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  6. Oh, and you look adorable in your girl scout uniform! I was a girl scout long enough to get the uniform then decided I didn't want to go (much to my mom's chagrin!)

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  7. Your father loved you very much. I hope that you enjoyed that camping trip.

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  8. You are lucky to still have that note from your dad in your possession and you can hear how much he loved you. :) did you bring all the dishes back?? ;)

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  9. What a wonderful keepsake. Perhaps frame it to keep it from any further damage (make a copy the backside if you want to display it). He says he loves you in his note, was it hard for him to say verbally?

    I too was a Girl Scout. I wish I still had my sash of badges, don't know what happened to them.

    As for your stupid camera, hang in there. I, for one, am enjoying your posts without it.

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