Back in adolescence, our Dad lived out-of-town.   He’d write us (snail mail then), and exercise his unique sense of fairness.  Any envelope addressed to “Bruce and Hal” always contained a letter that began “Dear HAL and BRUCE.”  Always.  He died on August 9, 1985.  His most recent note arrived today:

Dear boys,

A quarter of a century! Seems like yesterday.

It all happened so suddenly. They told me I was going to a better place and I figured Vegas. But I love it here. Not only is everything air-conditioned, but there’s no traffic and the kaiser rolls are to live for!

Twenty five years. When I got here I must say it was lonely. The only one at lodge on Thursdays was Max Mitchell. By the way, Bruce, did you ever get the magazines out of his garage on Bainbridge?

Little by little, though, my contemporaries have been showing up. A lot of old faces. Your mother’s family, Harriet’s family. Of course, your grandmother’s been here for a while. We play Scrabble on Sundays and it’s still frustrating. “Ma,” I tell her, “No two letter words.” “Albert, please!” I’ll hear; she still complains about her letters. By the way, she says you both should know she wanted to keep the color TV.

Was sorry to see Irwin last year. He’s been playing gin with Paul and me on Mondays. Not the best player, but a game’s a game. By the way, Bruce, per your request, we did include your friend David last winter. Marc was right, though. He’s not only weak, but even in this timeless place, David’s slow. One game we were partners; I kept finishing my hand first and so, I’d stand behind him to watch. Linick would stare at his cards, and stare. I’d want to shout “Throw something—anything!” And then he’d let go with a live card.” (We didn’t invite him back).

Bruce, I see your father-in-law all the time. He’s one of the few guys from the east coast that fit in immediately…You know, All-American and all that. He even got a big laugh on Father’s Day. We were sitting around, a bunch of us, watching “Field Of Dreams.” So the movie ends and they turn the lights on and he says “This isn’t Iowa, it’s heaven.” Then just a few weeks ago he made some more fans. There was a welcome party for Steinbrenner but Ben refused to go. “He’s a bum, I tell you,” he told the guys. (Oh…and Bruce—turns out I was right about Modell, wasn’t I?)

A lot of your friends’ fathers are here guys. Not many of the mothers. Why do they outlive us? Saw Stuart’s dad the other day. Wanted to have coffee, but he passed. Had a big, broad smile, but blew me off. “Can’t do it ‘Big Al’” he said—told me he was on his way to work.

I’ve been watching you boys and I’m proud of you both. It’s wonderful the way you’re taking care of my sister. I don’t know what she would do without you. H, your brother sent me the spreadsheet you made on her, detailing her misdeeds. If half of it is true and anything happens to her…please, if at all possible, give me a head’s up.

As far as your kids go, I’m watching it all and trust it will work out. It always does.

I know it’s been a rough year for you Hal, but the way you’ve carried yourself, they way you’ve not played the victim…well, it does my heart well to know you’ve pushed through. Like I told you boys back in the White Sox days, if you just keep taking a level swing, the hits will fall.

Well, that’s it for now. Picking the men up for today’ game, but need to stop at Revco first. Out of Camels. Smoking, you know, is still legal here. They say it can’t kill us.

(Told you this place was heaven).

Love, Dad

3 Responses to “THE LETTER”

  1. bob says:

    This is a classic. Wish I could put things into the written word as well as you do. Can’t believe it has been 25 years. It seems like only yesterday when I shared a room with Al on a Highlights overnight and didn’t get any sleep thanks to his snoring. Didn’t mattter having the opportunity to learn the Highlilghts business gave me the incentive to realize I could become a successful salesman in what became my life’s vocation. You and Hal were both lucky to have him for as long as you did.

  2. Stuart says:

    I was in Hartford, Ct at a conference when I received your call; I remember it like it was yesterday. Stunned and shocked; he was the first of our Dad’s to go. He touched so many of us.

    My Dad willed me a strong work ethic; yours gave me confidence, taught me how to sell and instilled upon me that life’s rewards were truly limitless.

    With my eyes closed…I can hear him getting out of the car (the grunt) and see him walking into an apartment that smelled of pancakes and saying: “Randy, please….Don’t tell me what you do…just tell me exactly what your say”

  3. Rolo says:

    How beautiful! It made me cry. As I have always said, you have a wonderful way with words.

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