Jilly D.

Lost love letter found in book: mine

In Holidays, Pictures and memories, Signs from beyond, Time and seasons on February 22, 2012 at 4:04 am

My volunteer shift at the Caroline Community Library is the third and fourth Tuesday of every month. Housed in the new town hall building powered by solar energy, the library is a collection of popular reading materials largely donated by neighbors. My shelves have grown full of books and I decided to clear a few out this afternoon before I went into Slaterville.

Half an hour early, I unlocked the building, put out the OPEN flag, and emptied the book return bin. My plan was to look at the childrens’ books for inspiration on several new personal and professional projects. The Greg Mortenson book display sadly stood in the window ledge with a full quart jar of pennies and nobody quite sure where to send them.  I was glad to see information about a new group for mothers with children ages two and under would be meeting in our little library.

After checking books back in, I checked the volunteers notebook and saw a search was on for a missing book. I looked in all the logical places and didn’t find it. 

Earlier in the afternoon, I had filled a milk crate with an odd selection of titles to donate. The book about North Korea was disturbing and I wanted to share that disturbance. A couple odd cookbooks, back issues of LA’s literary mag, Slate, a couple memoirs, and a copy of Chicken Soup for Dog Lovers.

Threw in the last issue of Mother Earth News for the community magazine exchange shelf. Noticed there three back issues of Reminisce, a great mag for retro and vintage inspiration. Sat right down in the quiet space and skimmed through with an almost giddy sense of distraction. It was already 7 o’clock.

I unloaded my crate of book donations and noticed a piece of paper stuck inside the Chicken Soup for Dog Lovers book. I remembered Annie and Bird had given Sam the book for Christmas the year before he died. I pulled out the sheet of wide-ruled notebook paper folded in half.

“On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me

Twelve volts of solar power

Eleven years of passionate living

Ten feet of Lionel track track and an engine with a real whistle

Nine times checking on the wood fire each day

Eight puppy Dalmatians this year

Seven p.m. suppers served on time

Six chapters of material for our book

Five cords of wood

Four buffalo

Three deer and elk

Two windmills

and a waterwheel that doesn’t mind the snow.

Every day is like Christmas,

Bright, warm, full of surprises.

We eat like kings and live royally.

You might be Scrooge again this year

Like last year

But all I want for Christmas is YOU

(and a fruticake to save and regift next year)

I love you.”

My pencil scratchings on the paper began to blur as my eyes filled with tears. I didn’t know he had saved it. Why did I find it today? He’d never written me a love letter. He wasn’t a writer. Few words, all action. Somehow, though, he turned this trick on me today. I sensed his spirit as soon as I found it. He sent it back to me: love in a post script. He’d written it back to me. He’d gifted me some love and sunshine on another gloomy, grey flannel cloud day here in his Finger Lakes wake of my widowed life.

I left the copy of Chicken Soup for Dog Lovers at the library but I brought home my love letter to Sam I’d lost in that book.

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  1. You remind me to keep scanning my world for sudden and surprising gifts of love. Thank you, Jill, for your moving story.

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