Grandma Lena used to sing to me when I was little. She would sing, “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter, and make believe it came from you.”
I was so young then. I was smaller than I could possibly imagine. I was young but yet old enough to remember (I guess.) I remember Grandma Lena’s voice and how it sounded. I remember the feel of her hands and how her skin was so soft, like a chenille blanket. She would ask me to write letters but I was young and young boys have other ideas and other plans. And least of off all my plans were writing letters or picking up the phone to call Grandma and say, “Hi.”
I was always told to write Grandma Lena but I seldom listened. I can say this was because I was young, I can say this is because I was preoccupied with the ideas that preoccupy a kid’s mind.
I’m sure my interests were elsewhere. I know they were. But this did not mean I did not love my Grandmother. It only meant that my priorities were that of a child, which meant I was thinking about things like spending time outside, playing games, or playing with my toys, and watching Saturday morning cartoons.
I excuse this because I was just a kid. This is what kids do. Kids are preoccupied and their minds are on other things. Grandma knew this, but still, I’m sure she wished I’d send a letter.
Eventually we grow. Eventually, we become teenagers and life takes on a new appeal. Our priorities change. Our toys change too. The games we play evolve and so do our interests. Maybe it’s girls. Maybe it’s sports. Maybe our interests focus on social surroundings. And next, it’s music. Next, we find ourselves trying hard to fit in. Next it’s image. Next, it’s self-awareness and self-conscious thought. Then it’s social and peer pressures and the needs to fit in and be involved and invited.
Next, we reach that age where we run out the door faster than we came in. We’re gone, and I mean real gone, like in the car with a crew of friends with the windows down, windblown hair, screaming and crazy like young lunatics that want to speed all over the town.
Next, we are preoccupied by love, or should I say, we are preoccupied by lust, which we confuse with love because, of course, we have no idea what love is. At least, not yet. But to us, love is love is love is love; especially when we feel the insatiable drive to date, to be with, and to entertain the focus of our desire.
Once more, our priorities change. We find ourselves on the run. We find ourselves with our first attempt at love. We have our own crowd now and we are moving into to our own identity.
We’re all over the place, glitter-eyed, and happy to feel, happy to interact, and happy to hold hands or sit someplace, like say, at a drive in movie to enjoy our best possible understanding of young romance.
We run so fast that we run into ourselves when we come in the door. Our home life, whether we are close or distance to our family; whether our social life is roaring or stagnant, our mindset is focused on so many things, which make simple things like writing a letter or making a phone call become all too easily forgotten. And we swear we’ll make the call. We swear we’ll make the time to write a letter or even send a postcard just so we can say, “Look, I did it.”
This is life as a youngster. But then we school ends. Then life begins. We’re on the road now. We have bills, which is something we never had to contend with before. We have responsibilities. Maybe we get married. Either way, your mind is in different directions.
We’re busy. Time slips by.
We barely have enough time for ourselves, let alone our kids. But we see our family on holidays and special occasions. We promise to call more often. And we mean it but life gets in the way, work is tough, the bills keep coming in, and there is always something that needs attention.
Something always goes wrong. Something pops up out of nowhere to drain the savings account we’ve been working on. Life happens and we become preoccupied. We forget.
Then suddenly, a light turns on and we realize that we have to make a call. And we promise ourselves that we will do it but procrastination can be a forgetful bitch and at the end of the day, when all is said and done, the hour is late, and we promise ourselves that we will call or write tomorrow.
Unfortunately though, tomorrow comes with its own set of problems. Maybe we get the time in and we make the call. Maybe we send a card, just so the mailman can swing by with an envelope so the people that raised us from birth can smile and feel loved and appreciated.
I remember Grandma Lena singing that song to me. As an adult, I remember my little girl sitting in her Grandmother’s arms and you, Mom, you sung the same song as Grandma Lena.
I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you.
Well Mom, it’s been a long time since I received a letter or a card from you. I suppose the mailman never makes it to where you and Pop live now. And wherever this is, I hope this letter makes its way to you. In fact, pray it does.
I wish I called more. I wish I wrote more. I wish I wasn’t so preoccupied. But more, I wish you were still around because I swear, no matter what age we are, a boy will always need his Mom.
By the way, that song goes back a long ways. I think it was first recorded in 1935. I know Sinatra sang it. I heard Perry Como sing it once too. The both of them sung that tune with golden pipes. It would be nice if I could hear it from you though.
But for now, I think I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter . . .
and make believe it came from you.