For those of us that travel…
It didn’t really take much time and always seemed easy. All those business trips in planes, a couple hours to yourself, off the grid. I started when Ryan was 5 and Alyssa was 1. Spending 15 minutes each flight adding another page to a letter on the laptop, each starting “Dear Alyssa” or “Dear Ryan” and following with all that was going on in our lives, what was great, what wasn’t, what Jackie and my fears and hopes were for them at that moment. A snapshot of the past month. Every month or two I would add another page, and over the years it began to transform from snapshots to a time-lapse movie of their growing up. The changes were dramatic when taken in one reading, learning to walk, getting on the bus the first day, struggling through the science fair, first boyfriends or girlfriends. A record of father-mother-son-daughter through the years. They did not know of the letters, and they each became more than 40 pages long.
When Ryan was 15, we had our first trip overseas, just the two of us, to Scotland. The week before I printed out the letter with calligraphic type, and with great care, pasted each page into an old, worn journal, the weather-beaten cover a good match for the content. At the end of our trip, I penned an introduction explaining the honor of being his father, and a final chapter, with the trip high points of this father and son adventure. I slipped the book onto his bed, not knowing when he would find it, or when he would read it.
Not a word was said by either of us for two days, that being the code of communication for father and son. Two nights later, I had reason to take a look at the book again, to check some fact, and when I picked it up, it opened to a new page that I had not written.
The freshly written letter started; “Dad, I don’t know if you will ever read this, but I need to share what it has been like for me these years…”
The time it took to write the letter was nothing. The remembering to add to it every trip was not hard. And the value of the resulting written, shared record of a father and son is hard to measure. I will never forget reading his response.
For those of us that travel, being away is hard. I suggest that you find your own way to take a slice of that time to create something of great value that came from the being apart.