31 Letters Literacy Project: Day 30 – “Dad”

Day 30 of our 31 Letters Literacy Project is about FATHERS.

This letter topic is inspired by one of my favorite poems, My Father by Yehuda Amichai:

MY FATHER by Yehuda Amichai

The memory of my father is wrapped up in
white paper, like sandwiches taken for a day at work.

Just as a magician takes towers and rabbits
out of his hat, he drew love from his small body,

and the rivers of his hands
overflowed with good deeds.

I smile, sometimes through tears, whenever I read this lovely poem.  My Dad died when I was a young woman… very suddenly, suffering a heart attack at age 47.  I had been with him and my Mom the night before, and then I never saw him again.  My Dad’s death has left a big empty hole in my heart and in my life, but I keep him with me by sharing his life and his goodness and his love with my husband, my children and now my grandchildren… none of whom met him on this earth.  But he lives with each of us every single day as an angel.  I know this.

Write a letter today about someone you love… someone who is no longer with us.  Let your kids, your grandkids, or a special child “in” on the secrets of a beautiful person.  Our WORDS make our loved ones eternal.


Here is my “DAD” letter to my grandchildren:

March 30, 2011

Hi, my little darlings!

When I went out for a run yesterday afternoon, I found myself running along the harbor down the street from my home.  I moved away from that little harbor for many, many decades… not because it made me sad, but because I built a life your Grandpa/Pop-up in another town on the other side of the bay.   It felt very familiar when we moved over to this side of the bay (as we Rhode Islanders say!).  I find myself running along that little stretch of water often.

I know why.

This is where I spent lots and lots of time with my Dad.  My Dad had a boat that he kept in that safe, little harbor.  He LOVED his boat.  He had spent 20 years in the Navy, traveling all over the world… and being on the water was calming and comforting to him.  My favorite photograph of all time is one of my Dad on his boat… turned around to look at someone or something… with such strength and calm all at the same time…

This is how I remember my Dad.  On his boat.  Always taking time, even a moment, to turn to someone or something.

(Your Grandpa/Pop-up is just like my Dad.  There is not a moment in his life that he isn’t thinking of someone, something… and how to bring happiness and joy. You are very, very blessed to have your grandfather!)

Running along the harbor brings me back 40 years.  I used to head there with my Dad to help him (or, mostly, watch him!) work on his boat.  In the early spring, like now, he used to clean it and tidy it up, getting it ready to put in the water.  In the summer, he would get up early in the morning, to sail around the bay, over to Newport… I think to listen to the water, the waves, the gulls… and enjoy the vastness of the blue sky as it met the deep blue water.  He was also the friendliest man who ever lived.  Seriously.  He would wave at everyone and anyone.  He would talk to everyone and anyone.  He would help everyone and anyone. I used to tease him about this.  He would just smile…

One of the things I remember about that little harbor is getting into my first car accident.  Yikes.  It wasn’t a big accident.  But it was definitely my fault.  I had a little red Volkswagon Bug.  My Dad and I had an agreement that when I graduated from high school, he would match how much money I made that summer… and help me pick out a used car.  Well, I saved $300.00!  One day, when I got home from work, there was a little red car in our driveway.  Yep.  My Dad had picked it out for me and driven it home!  He wouldn’t take my $300.00.  He told me to keep it for gas and books and all kinds of things that I would need at college.  I loved that car… but more, I loved my Dad’s gift from his heart…

Isn’t it cute!?

But anyway, during the fall of that same year, 1970, I headed to the harbor one afternoon to see my Dad.  It was cold and windy, but there were lots of cars there.  Most of the people were getting their boats ready for the winter.  I couldn’t find a place to park.  Cars were lined up and down the street, all the way up the hill.  Finally, I saw a little spot for a little car and I zoomed in.


In the zooming part, I hit the front side of the back car with the back side of my car.  Follow that?  I hit the car I was trying to park in front of!

Everyone turned toward the CRASH CRUNCH sound.  My Dad turned. It’s really amazing how loud a slow fender CRASH can be.  I stopped my little red Volkswagon.  I just sat there until my Dad came running.  Soon, the owner of the other car was there. It turned out to be not-so-much damage, but damage just-the-same.  The police came.  Paperwork had to be filled out.

But my Dad was not angry at all.  He was happy and relieved that no-one was hurt… and told me over and over again that these things happen to every driver.  I just had to learn from it.

I learned.

I learned how to parallel park after that.  That’s when you drive ahead of the first car and back into a parking spot… never touching the front or the back car.  I became quite an expert on parallel parking, by the way!  Just ask Auntie Janie.  She can’t believe the tight spaces in which I fit a car.  It’s one of my superhero maneuvers.

Sometimes when I’m running along the harbor,  I see my Dad working on his boat, waving and smiling.  I see my little red Volkswagon.  I hear my Dad’s voice in the water, the waves, the gulls, the sky, the deep blueness.  I think angels hang around places they loved, and they draw us to them. We just have to believe and listen.

My little red Volkswagon is long gone.  The harbor is built up with restaurants and decks and outside lights in the evening.  New docks have been constructed.  I think the sidewalks must be rather new.  But when I’m there at the harbor, I’m a teenager again. I think of my Dad. I smile.

And I know why.

This is a place of lovely memories.  And lots and lots of love.  

My Dad (center), my Mom (right) and friends ready for an adventure!

Ships ahoy, Dad!

Love forever and ever,

Grandma Couto


Mail Tidbit of the Day: Mail and mail delivery is officially known as the “U.S. Postal Service.”

31 Letters Literacy Project: Day 30 – “Dad” was last modified: March 30th, 2011 by Sharon Couto
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31 Letters Literacy Project: Day 30 – “Dad” was last modified: March 30th, 2011 by Sharon Couto