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Snail Mail My Heart

Jenn Sutkowski  is a freelance writer on the creative path to writing her first book. She shares with us her story of the timeless bond between a father and daughter.  It is a reminder that time and memory is a precious gift to be cherished with the loved ones who are the closest to our hearts.

I came home from an afternoon constitutional (or walk, in old ­time speak) to find a postcard from my father that made me burst into tears. It was just a simple drawing that said, “The quality of my life has to do with the amount of YOU in it,” with “Love, Dad” written on the back. I sat with this postcard for some time and eventually put it on my fridge. A friend suggested he was commenting on my weight and I joked about picking at my daddy issues. But mostly I was relieved and felt like I had been given a precious gift.

Like many people before me and many after and a bunch right alongside, my family and I are watching my dad descend into dementia. I hesitated to even talk about it for some time because my family has some paranoia about the whole thing but I think it’s important to visit because life is often a series of emotional revisions.

Some changes are welcome, such as he’ll sit with all of us in my sister’s kitchen and chat. My sister has a relationship with him now that she has always wanted. Some things are frustrating, such as him getting stuck on various details of our lives, which he thinks are a certain way but are not. I guess that’s not much of a change, really. He is still pretty with it, as it were — he knows who we are — if confused about what day it is. It feels strange to even write about it because the shifting of a private person’s independence feels so personal and can become so clinical and exposed.

He once was so demanding of others about details and language and the like and now those things are slipping in himself. It must be terrifying.

We try to do the best we can. I owe my sisters and brother a debt because they live near my Dad while I do not and they spend scads more time than I can. The postcard, however, became an invitation which I took with gratitude. We have been sending postcards back and forth for about a year and a half now. Sometimes we’ll send several postcards a week, his of the Ashleigh Brilliant “Pot­shots” variety and mine ranging from Brigitte Bardot to kittens in business suits. I’ll take the connections where I can and try to be a bright part of his world.

Dad Postcard Summer Smaller

What I’ve noticed as I reflect on this time where we’ve been connecting in the simplest way but from the truest essence of how we feel about each other is that it’s helped my creative work, too. I have always been obsessed with details — perhaps even fixated. So to exercise fitting my deepest, most positive feelings onto a four­ by ­six inch card because life is too short not to has strengthened a once­ contentious relationship and has improved my writing and its scope. I’m willing to bet you have an opportunity in your life to try something similar.

Drop-by and visit for one of her beautiful handcrafted postcards.  She also can be found on twitter sharing cautious optimism and goofy positivity @jennsutkowski.

Thank you, Jenn I am grateful for you taking the time to share this touching post with us. I wish you and your father  many more years filled with postcards that warm both of your spirits with love.

Categories: Guest Post Life

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Darcie Cameron is a RYT 200 who believes Yoga is a gift that is accessible to everyone with proper modifications, a patient smile and just taking the time to breathe. One of the greatest presents you will ever unwrap is when you connect your mind, body and spirit in perfect sync with your own breath. Connect with Darcie on Facebook

19 replies

  1. Wonderful and reflective piece. I admire your courage and strength in facing adversity. Your memoir reminds us all to live in the moment and not take things for granted. Life moves quickly.

    Best wishes to your father and entire family Jenn.

  2. Jenn, this is a lovely story. I’d really like to interview you for a campaign I’m doing in January. If you’re willing to answer the following question, email me at readme(at)andrawatkins(dot)com.

    Tell me about an instance where you took time out of your life to make a memory with a loved one. What does that experience mean to you now?


  3. beautifully written.. Good thing your dad has your love and support, indeed also from the rest of your family. Many people do not have that. thanks for sharing. Eve

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