Letters From A Son: A Note To The Old Man

Hey Pop,
It’s been awhile. It’s been 31 years to be exact. In fact it was 31 years ago today when you left us. I’m sorry it’s been a little while since my last letter. Not sure if you can see the news where you are but the world is in a little bit of a tailspin. In spite of this, I’m doing well. Or, perhaps I should say that I’m doing as well as I can be, I am still growing and still learning.

I often think about the lessons you would try to teach me when I was young. I was thinking about the different clouds. I remember you told me if we read the clouds then we can somewhat tell which kind of weather is on the way. I’m not sure what the difference is between nimbus or stratus clouds or cumulus or cirrus clouds. I don’t know much about the weather that’s on the way. I don’t know if it will rain or snow or if the sun will share its warmth but I admit it. It would be nice to know what’s coming my way.

The year is almost over now. I don’t know what the new one will look like. I don’t know if we will be able to pull up out of this tailspin. I don’t know much except none of this is in my control.
I am fortunate to be working. In fact, I worked an overnight shift at my day job last night. There was an emergency flood. There was a leak that burst from one of the hot water risers, which meant that as the engineer on duty, I had to run around and shut valves to drain and isolate the leak. 

No one ever wants problems like this. But like it or not, emergencies arise and when they do, the only move is to think clearly. Otherwise, we give into panic. Fortunately, I’m not a rookie anymore. I knew which valves to shut and how to stop the water quickly. The pipe snapped inside one of the fittings, which meant I had to get a hammer and a chisel to chisel out the piece inside the fitting. I was able to do it without any issues. I replaced the pipe and took pictures of the damage for management to see. 

I yelled a little bit. I yelled at the people working around the leak because, well, to put it simply, the leak didn’t just happen. There must have been an accident. Something unexpected happened. Fortunately, I had the staff to clean the water. I wasn’t quiet when giving my directions but then again, I can’t say anyone was moving very quickly. And that’s why I yelled. I laugh because back when I worked for you at the shop, I never thought I would be doing things like this now. I remember seeing you frustrated with me when we worked together. You told me that I had two speeds….slow and slower.

It’s funny how the world comes around in full circles. I work with my hands just like you did. I learned how to fix things. I learned how to feed my family and do plumbing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning work. This was also something you tried to teach me when I was younger. And here I am now, swinging wrenches just like you did. There is something very fitting about this for me.

I remember when you would work all the time. I never understood why you worked the hours you worked. You were always working on something. At least, this is how it seemed to me.
You weren’t always happy. You had stressors that I lacked the capacity to understand. You would come home late and eat the leftover, reheated food we had for dinner.
There were times when I could see the tension in your expressions. But at last, you were home. I remember watching you eat. I remember watching you sit at the head of your table. The dirt and grime from your job was hard to wash off in more ways than one. I never understood much about this. All I remember is you would tell me, “You’ll understand when you’re older.” Well, I’m older now, Pop. And you’re right. I do understand. 

The one thing I understand most is no matter what the clouds look like, it’s hard to tell the weather on the way. There is no way to tell the future. There is no way to know if the day ahead of us will be easy or hard. All we can do is learn and be prepared.

There is a line I remember hearing from someone at a funeral. The line goes, “No one knows the hour or the day. Not the Angels in Heaven. Not even the Son. Only the Father knows.”

I think people would say things differently to each other if they were certain that this may be the last time they ever speak. I suppose there are things I wished I could have told you the last time we spoke. I suppose this is why I write my letters and send them out to the universe. There is so much to tell you. There are so many things I wish you could see. And there are things I’m glad you weren’t around to witness.

Who I am now is very much a result of who I’ve been. I work a lot. And if you or someone ever told me that I would work the hours I work now and come home late to sit at the head of my table to eat reheated food, I suppose I would say you were crazy. I suppose if anyone told me this would be me, I’d have laughed or shook my head. Then again, I never did pay much attention to the clouds. Maybe if I knew how to read the clouds, I could have seen a little more into the future.

It is strange to think about how long it’s been since you were with us. I swear, sometimes this feels like we knew each other in a different lifetime. If the years of my mourning were to be human, the human would be 31 years old today. And think about this. Think about the idea of being 31 years old. If the years of mourning your loss would be compiled into a human life; the life would be living in adulthood now. 

I had to learn some tough lessons on my own. I had to fall a few times to know how to gain the strength to stand back up again. The truth is we never know what’s going to happen. We never know when we might find ourselves caught in the downpour of a flash storm or an unexpected rain.

It’s been strange lately. I’ve grown distant from so many things. I’ve moved beyond a lot of the pain I felt in my younger years. Sometimes I even wonder if you would recognize me now. Sometimes, I find myself feeling guilty because the sadness is not as intense as it used to be. This does not mean I do not weep and that I do not miss you. I suppose this just means I’m older now. And like you said, I understand more now because I’m older. I understand more because life has seasoned me with the flavor of experience.

I’ve been called “Strong” by some people. I don’t feel very strong. Then again, I’m not sure if anyone ever understands the wealth of their own strength, Plus, there are times when life hits us hard. And people see this and they’ll remark about how strong we are because we live through the circumstances. People say this as if we have a choice. But no. We don’t. All we can do is endure.

First off, I would be fine to be weaker and have my life go a little easier. But I guess life doesn’t work that way. I would be fine to be less-strong and have less casualties in my life because the truth is casualties make us tough. We just never see it this way.

We have so many gifts as human beings. We never notice what we have. We tend to notice more about what other people have before recognizing our own strengths. We tend to keep detailed records of our weaknesses and faults before keeping a gratitude list of our assets and strengths.

I suppose this is due to the long list of life’s terms and disappointments. And I’m like you. I’ve had my share of disappointments. I’ve had heartbreak. The pain from them is enough to make us flinch when we think it’s coming again. And just like the weatherman, we overreact. We come up with inaccurate predictions. 

It took me a long time to learn there are no predictions. There is no reason to attach myself to outcomes. There is only the energy of my effort. All I can do is move on a step by step basis. All I can do is maintain my composure to the best of my ability, take a breath and act accordingly.

I don’t know where you are. I don’t know if the universe delivers my letters but I send them anyway. It seems like the need to contact you creates enough energy that somehow, you hear this. Maybe the need I have to reach you and the voice I have in my head is enough to keep you alive, even after all these years. I don’t know what the clouds will look like today, Pop. I don’t know what’s coming my way. I’m just doing my best to be prepared. 

I still look to make you proud. I still work to right all the wrongs of my past. I just need a little more time to pull off my trick.  Anyway, I have to go now, Pop. I have to pull an early shift at my day job. I’m sure you understand. I think we both do now.

Know what I mean?

I love you.
Your son,

B-

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