tenderness of time

pdb to lcb 6-31Last night, I heard the line ‘tenderness of time’ and tucked it into my memory bank for future use. Which today’s Writing 101 challenge invited with a 20-minute fast-write.

I am reducing. Again. Not my personal physical self but the Stuff that I carry from one house to the next. This time, sure it will be my last move, I want to get it right. Instead of (once again) toting boxes of moldering letters between my parents during their 1924 – 1931 courtship (they married June 24), I decided to take a stand. And the only way to do so was to sit down and read.

What I found inspired me, delighted me, and reduced me to tears. Tears of tenderness for how young and optimistic my parents were when they were new in their love. And tenderness for how time weighs down even the most ebullient of spirits through imperceptible shifts. Until the day we ask, somewhat bewildered, “HOW did I get here?”

But the tenderness I most noted was that of hope and longing. My father had been away from his intended for an extended time, seeking treatment for a potentially career-threatening vision problem. In the end, the eyes were not cured but he did have a highly successful career.

During this separation, however, details of the eyes seemed far less important than the minute nuances of feeling for one another. My father explored multiple creative ways to start each loving note to his future bride, and ended each with declarations of devotion and his desire to learn how to show his love, all ways.

What a gift to a daughter some 80+ years later, to uncover the heart of a parent as young adult. What joy to witness a side not truly experienced during the living of the years we shared. What a tenderness of time, to be brought into his present excitement of impending marriage. I am indeed blessed to have taken my own time to pull these letters out, read through them, and discover just why I have been carrying them with me all these musty years.