Fingers of early morning sunlight reached across the room. The light rain that had steadily fallen overnight had given way to clear skies. No excuse to blame the gloomy weather on my mood thought Lily. There were too many memories. Too much pain surrounded her in this place. Since her mother had died unexpectedly of a heart attack 2 weeks ago, she had delayed facing the overwhelming task of sorting through all the papers and personal items.
An only child, Lily’s parents divorced when she was 3 years old. She had a vague recollection of her father, who supported her financially but chose his lifestyle of boat races, much younger women and building a financial empire. Her mother was shattered emotionally by his departure had focused on Lily trying to make up for the lack of affection and the involvement of her father in her life. She envied her friends and their relationships with their own fathers. No Father-Daughter dances for Lily or family outings. Mother couldn’t be her father, no matter how hard she tried. A card and check every birthday was all she received. He was always out of the country or too involved in his own activities. “Oh well”, she thought, it’s in the past. I’m no longer a child. I’m 30 years old, a fairly successful fashion designer with my own life.
It’s time to tackle the cherry secretary’s desk that her mother had spent so many hours at writing her beloved poetry. She said it gave her peace and was a terrific outlet in expressing her thoughts and feelings. One of the drawers was locked. Lily rummaged through the desk searching for the key. Finally, she found the key dangling from a gold braided ribbon. Lily unlocked the drawer, finding an envelope somewhat yellowed with age with “To Lily” written on it. A feeling of great apprehension came over her. She hesitated for some time just looking at the envelope. Finally, picking up the amber letter opener her mother always used, opened it. As her eyes gazed over the words, everything seemed to become a blur. Was she dreaming? Could this be real? As she read:
“Dearest Lily, You’ve always been the most important thing in my life. My precious gift. My all. Having no family of my own and being raised by foster parents, I always longed for a real family.
I met your father in my senior year in high school. He was the popular football star. Blue eyes (like yours) wavy dark hair and a magnetic smile. What really attracted me to him was his kindness. He made me feel so special, and he loved me so. We were too young everyone said. He had his life planned by his family. No room now for a wife and child.
My foster parents were very supportive. When you were born, your father saw you. He kissed your cheek and tiny hand and said “Goodbye”. I never saw him again. He lost his life shortly after on an icy highway returning from a football game. Such a tragedy. The only father you ever knew was charming, wealthy, and saved me from destroying myself. We met in college. Something about me; perhaps my melancholy attracted him to me. I knew he was popular with every female on campus. Why he chose me, I still don’t know. A young mother with a toddler not his own. He stayed for one year. His family never accepted you or me. No matter what you think, he always supported us financially. I apologize for not telling you in person. I suppose I don’t have a strong spirit. I wanted you to know the truth. Always know my precious daughter that you were always the most important one in my life. Your Loving Mother”
Lily looked at the letter within her hands but could only see the face of her mother smiling. Should she try to reach the only father she had known or leave things as they are? After pondering the words of the letter, Lily decided that the most important thing was her mother’s love. That was enough for Lily.
Nancy Ellen Crossland