By Dennis Lowery
One of my personal projects in development.
A story of life, love, loss and learning.
The letters were sharply creased from years in their envelopes stacked tightly in the small box barely large enough to hold them. Thirty of them, about ten pages apiece, each dated the same month and date a year apart. The one on top dated the day the man was found dead and hand written on the nursing home’s stationery.
Brittle in her hands, easy to tear, as she read them what unfolded was a realization life was as delicate as the paper she held in her hand. They spoke of love and cruel loss and what happens when we let our dreams die. They told of a secret that should have died aborning, choices and decisions made and not made that shaped what was to come. “Secrets, choices and decisions,” she murmured, which brought her squarely back into her own life. “Damn…”
At a nursing home, a resident dies with no next of kin and with his personal effects is found a box of letters. Curious, a new employee at the home tasked with gathering his belongings decides to keep the letters—she takes them home with her and begins to read. The early letters are typed on plain paper and in business size envelopes, the middle letters are a mix of typed and handwritten on different paper and various kinds of envelopes, the later letters are handwritten—with the final letter dated the day of his death written on the home’s stationary. From his records she knew he hung on to life seemingly to reach the date to complete his letter. When done he sealed and put it away with the others and died.
Many of the letters are smudged, use a mix of pencil and different ink (obviously written at different times but kept to finish on the date for the letter). The last letter is blotched in places; some ink runs as if water had dropped on the letters as he wrote.
Each letter talks about moments in his life at that time and speaks to his wife and children. With the section for each child specific to their age and what they might be going through at that point in their life. To his wife he talks about the beauty they shared, the hardships of life, the challenges their children face in life and worries about the world around them.
As the man’s story unfolds through the letters she tries to find out details about him and his family. She finds that address on the letters does exist, but no one there knows the man. If he or his family lived there at all.
Interspersed with the story behind the letters is the story of this young woman trying to find her way in life and dealing with estrangement from her own family.
And in finding herself – she also discovers the startling truth of the man and his letters.