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Guest blog by Joan Suter

Joan is another one of my fabulous graduates that was a part of the “feral cat” group.  I have enjoyed getting to know Joan these last few years and was thrilled to read her piece entitled: A Conversation Lost.

As we enter the various stages of life and our mind takes over the direction of our thoughts without really consulting us. . . . I allow the thoughts to surface, as I find that trying to discharge those thoughts are pointless, it just keeps nagging at you until you give it your full attention.

While doing my never ending search earlier this year, exploring boxes, files and more boxes, for my memoir, I discovered family letters written perhaps seventy or more years ago. The letters, primarily written by my parents, revealed a touching story of their love for each other. Surprisingly,

the letters told the story of the circumstances surrounding the birth of their two children, my sister Helen and me.

Those letters were written because at that time, I believe, husbands, fathers, were not allowed to visit the new mothers soon after giving birth. Letters were the next best vehicle for communicating with the new mothers. As a result, I was able to gain great insight about my dad in his younger years. Among the practical words that passed between them of what to do, what things to bring

to the hospital for the new addition in their lives, tender, loving words were expressed, especially, from my father. Words like darling, and other expressions of love one would openly relate to their loved one. I was amazed to read these letters from my dad, as I cannot ever remember my dad daring to use such romantic, touching expressions of love. . . . .ever.

My father, as I remember him, was a rather pragmatic, challenging gruff individual who lost his beloved “Sug” after only four or five years of marriage. He never got over losing his “Sug”. . . .(her nickname).

Eons later, after reading the letters, my mind challenged my thinking once again, asking: “I’ve never had and wonder what it would be like to have had an adult conversation with my father, he died when I was fourteen. Would he tell me about his love for his “Sug”, my mother, and what it felt like losing her”……”Would he tell me about her family, his family as well as other thoughts and questions I’ve been curious about?” Would my mother tell me how it felt leaving her two beloved babies, going to the hospital, knowing she would never see them again?”

. . . .I never thought about this until my seventies!

As I’ve entered this stage of life, these are the thoughts my mind refuses to leave undone.

A conversation lost. . . . .

2 Comments to “Guest blog by Joan Suter”

  1. Joan, what a treasure you have found! I wonder how many letters are written today, given all of the social media? I’d be interested in knowing what your sister’s thoughts/comments are about these letters and their contents? I think you shared with us at our “Feral” meeting that your Mom was going to a T.B. sanitarium, right? And that’s when she died? How old were you when your Mom died? Where will this go in your memoir? I love it, thanks for sharing…Sandra

  2. Joan,

    It’s such a lovely piece. I can just picture you looking at, touching, reading, and luxuriating at these treasured letters. We never fully know our parents, especially as lovers to each other, and as separate beings aside from being our parents. This is another reason why memoir is so important…to find out about these human beings who joined in love to bring us into the world. Wonderful!

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Tammy L. Coia is an AWA Affiliate, certified to lead workshops in the AWA method as described in Writing Alone & With Others by Pat Schneider, Oxford University Press.


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