Today I’m dealing with a fat box of old letters and cards. I’m steeling myself to discard them, but only after recording the dear names from the past. Several are from the family of my best friend, Rob, who was taken by AIDS in 1996. Several also from a warm former fellow therapist in Pomeroy, Mary and spouse Jim who bought a house In Tennessee and have stayed in it…Several Christmas letters from Jan, graduate schoolmate…Many Christmas letters from grad classmate Fred, with whom I got my GSU degree..A handmade birthday card from contiuuing great good friend and poet, Cathy…A 1995 letter from Rob…A lengthy death notice/obituary about my first therapist, Irma…An Easter card and then a 9-page letter from Ruth, a family member in a nursing home whom I’ve just recently gotten to know….A note that accompanied an elephant hair bracelet from Eileen, a favorite intern’s who was on a trip to the Sudan…An artistic, newsy original Christmas newsletter to the tune of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas from psych friend and classmate Jan…A 1984 note from Flowery Branch, writ on Phyllis’ new electric typewriter…

A couple of 1985 letter/cards from close friend Virginia, who later dropped me like a hot potato, and I’m sure it was my fault…A loving 2009 Christmas letter from former intern/counselor Eileen, whose Christmas Newsletter listed books read and rated…A photo of former intern Winkie and her son and granddaughter from South Africa…A photo of the entire department of psychology at GSU in 1977…A great 2014 letter and photo from the old artist, sparky professor emeritus, Bob…A 1999 letter from an intern who needed more than my minimal support for her counseling thesis. Jane was a very warm and supportive counseling student who got bad breaks with her profs…An incredibly warm and appreciative letter from close friend, Jamie, head of our Friday night soup group, in 2000…A card from former student Jim from Saudi Arabia, where he ate goat eyeballs, in 1976…A 1986 letter from early special friend Carrie, now deceased (As are many in this list)… The former sex offender treatment group at the prison and I received a greeting from John in 1997, reporting he’s still married and “clean.”…A note and photos from a male cousin who later wrote me a nasty letter when he thought I had not sent a requested photo to his mother. He later found out I had, to his embarrassment, in 2005…The Order of Service for Pete’s memorial service in 2008…A 2009 Christmas letter from Jane, a relative who has since dropped me from the family. Funny when you’ve not been around someone for years you have different communication patterns and I guess I blew mine…

…A 2007 Obituary of a good and kind fellow prison psychologist, Stephanie…A letter of appreciation in poem form from prison “graduate” Hank prior to 1996…So many great letters I don’t remember responding to. Sorry sorry sorry!…A sweet birthday card from a daughter, Lili…Two handmade valentines from granddaughters Julia and Lauren…A beautiful Mothers Day card from Elizabeth…In 1984 Elizabeth telling me she has cat scratch fever…Handmade birthday card from Lauren and Lili…A 1975 memorial card for friend Sylvia’s son Alex…2007 letter from genealogy cousin relative Paul, playing bluegrass regularly since his wife’s passing…1996 card and photo from my friend and mentor over the years, Patricia…In 2009 received a note from friend and author John and Mary who moved to Cincinnatti…In 1990 non-deliverable Christmas card to Carrie…In 2008, the Spiritual Growth Discussion Group which had been meeting at my place constructed a Get Well booklet for me when I had a valve replaced, from Andree, Vivian, John and Mary, Cathy, and Jean-Clare…A Thank-you card from my ex… It’s strange how I could forget a Mothers Day card I didn’t save, the one to “Mommie Dearest.” Tee hee…

Earlier I ditched most of my yearly hardcover journals after tearing a few pages out hither and yon. And I tore out drawings and passages for my book on dialoguing with incest offenders. A few people feel better after discarding old journals, and possibly don’t even keep cards or old letters anyway. I have felt reluctant to do it, because it seems like I’m throwing that person away. Maybe I’m concerned that my memory may fail me to the extent that I won’t even recall them without a stimulus?

One of my projects which I’ve handed over to my eldest daughter is to record the primary happenings in each of our lives (“Daze of Our Lives.”) The journals sure would have come in handy for that enterprise, but then there are the yearly hand-made and zeroxed Christmas cards which I’ve bundled elsewhere for that project…

Found on http://pickettsinpoland.blogspot.com/2012/11/last-day-in-wrocaw.html

About Nan Mykel

I used to think I would be a child prodigy, but then I got old. Formerly I had fantasies of rubbing elbows with cultural and academic leaders but that did not come to pass because I did not become a cultural or academic leader or any other kind of leader, for that matter. I am not even an "Alpha Dog," a term learned from a friend who had to become "Alpha Dog" in order to influence her own pet. (When gazes lock, she never looks away.) For years I expected to become a published author, but in passing I could not avoid the fact that I had little to contribute to the world's bulging dumpsters. I'm embarrassed to report that I also considered my primary process artistic productions powerful, rather than mildly neurotic. Which is not to say that I disrespect myself, only that I am beginning to doubt my potential for making a mark on the world. If I focus on strict self discipline I may be able to keep my garbage removed on a weekly basis, to keep the kitty box changed, the clothes cleaned, the dog watered, fed and walked, but that just catches me up to the starting mark again. When writing I physically grapple with words, wrestling them from their indifference into attempted chunks of awareness. I sit heavily on my chair; I breathe in artificially cooled air; my ear drums note the tap tap of the keyboard and the steady uninterrupted sound of the air conditioner, What is that sound? The roar of the ocean from 30 yards away...Inside, my thoughts are are balls in an electronic game machine, bouncing hither and yon from lever to lever. I am a little grim and intent until I recall a dream related by a black man in the prison where I once worked. He said that when he was a small boy, back home, he dreamed he was standing on his front porch pissing, and that he suddenly found himself pissing stars...
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  1. jilldennison says:

    As I read this post, the Aretha Franklin song “Memories” began playing in my mind. I have the same dilemma … too little space, too many memories. They are, after all, just cards and letters. But, they are a part of my life, and thus, I shove the box back into the closet and instead, throw away a few clothes I haven’t worn in years. Memories … light the corners of my mind … misty water coloured memories … of the way we were … ♫


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