Jen, my good friend over at Denton Sanitorium, has asked her readers to write a letter of thanks to someone who has been a strong influence in our lives. I have written many such letters and will undoubtedly write many more (I am, after all, a complete freak for such things), but I thought it might be more meaningful if I wrote about "the one that got away."
When a dear friend of mine died unexpectedly some time ago, I sent a letter of thanks to her daughter. That I was too late to send it to her will be a lasting source of sorrow for me. I had often thought about how wonderful she was, and I knew how much she had impacted my life.....I even told her on occasion.....but I never took the time to sit down and write her a letter that she could hold in her hands and read when she needed to remember that someone loved and appreciated her and thought she was practically perfect in every way. (I'm not exaggerating. She was.) But she did have her struggles, as we all do, and I wish I could have given her the gift of a simple letter expressing my love.
Instead, I found myself writing that letter to her daughter. I had missed my chance. Sadly, the next best thing was the only thing left for me to do.
I'm sharing my letter as a tribute to the lovely woman Dee was and is. I hope reading about her calls to mind those people in your life who are ready and able to receive the letter my friend never received from me.
Dear (Dees's daughter):
When your mom moved away, I was really sad. I had been her visiting teacher, and I didn’t want to give up the job…not because I was doing so much for her, but because she was doing so much for me. Being Dee’s visiting teacher was the greatest experience of being nurtured that I have ever had, outside of my own family members.
When I walked in the door, she would let me choose my favorite teacup, and then she would fill it with a delicious herbal tea. We would sit and talk about anything and everything––life, love, and (our favorite topic) motherhood. It was Dee who taught me that once your child chooses someone to marry, you make a decision to love that person, no matter what. She also taught me about cousins’ weekends at grandma’s house (a tradition I intend to adopt as soon as my grandchildren are old enough). She was so proud of all her children and their accomplishments. She showed me much of your beautiful photography and shared with me your brother’s determined and ultimately victorious journey to becoming a doctor.
When I was Young Women president, I asked the bishop to call Dee as a teacher; it was an inspired calling. She filled her girls’ hearts with love and laughter. They knew how much she cared about them, and I know their testimonies and self worth grew because of her spiritual gifts and devotion. Just walking into the room where she taught them was uplifting. She really knew how to set a warm and cozy mood, not by design, but because that was a part of her.
Of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. After all, she’s your mom. But I just wanted you to be aware that she mothered many people, myself among them, and that the following words are as true today as they were the day I wrote them, when she moved from our ward.
DEE STEWART IS...
Delightful as the darling hats that only she can wear
Enchanting as the flowers she arranges with such flair
Empathic as can be, she is a loved and loving friend
Serene and soothing as a cup of tea (her special blend!)
Terrific as the job she does on almost anything
Endearing as the daffodils that pop up in the spring
Wiser than the wisest owl and warm as woolly mittens
Adorable as puppies, bunnies, baby chicks, and kittens
Refreshing as the ocean breeze that cools a summer day AND
Totally irreplaceable in every single way
with much love and joy in remembering your wonderful mother,
Dee's letter is in purple because that was her favorite color. The pink is to remind me of her soft cheeks and flowery, ribboned hats. I am grateful that I did at least write and send her that silly little poem after she moved away.
I guess the message I want to get across with all of this is simple: DON'T WAIT. Tell people you love them, and do it now. (Tell them why, too!) Let the people who have made a difference in your life know they matter...and sometimes, put it in writing. It means so much to get such a letter. I know, because I have saved every single one I've ever received. I treasure and revisit them. I'm sure you do, too.
So thanks for reminding me, Jen. (I think I have a few letters to write...)
After such a lengthy post, I really hope you can spare the time to read my guest post over at Salsa Pie today, where Caroline is enjoying a brief maternity leave (blog-style) after the birth of her beautiful baby boy. I really think you'll like what I have to say (though it probably made Caroline blush a bit). Oddly enough, it's sort of in keeping with what you just read...as regards letting others know how you feel about them. Nothing happens by chance, does it? Not really, anyway. Hugs to you all.