Writing the Years
Writing the Years
By: Sarah Kyllo
In the years before what I imagine will be my father’s death, I began sending him my personal essays and travel stories. Things I might not share with my closest friends, not even my own mother, who was my best friend. My father, who was for all purposes, no longer really a father, remained a silent figure far away. We did not exchange phone calls. But for some reason, he would send me a letter or a card about once a month. We had never spoken with written words before, but it worked for me. It was a method of communication that had always been the easiest for me.
After writing an “intervention” letter to him years ago, there were many more journal entries that expressed my anger, my lack of understanding, my sadness over the loss of the man who was once my ‘daddy’. He had been the one who played games with us on winter nights and taught us how to play basketball and throw a ball and had over the years turned into a judgmental bitter person who would rather spend holidays at the bar than with his family. But this time around, there wasn’t any real anger left. The man that I had loved as a child was long gone. He stood as a ghost, existing only in the pale glimpse of wheat dust at the end of an August harvest sunset. This different man wasn’t angry or bitter anymore, just sometimes sad and lonely. He could hardly take care of himself, when he had once raised a family and a farm and fixed anything that was broken. Now, he was broken and he couldn’t fix a single goddamn thing.
So I sent him my writings, my travel stories, my essays, my letters of what I did and what I longed for and letters giving him a glimpse of what my single 37 year old Oregon life is. Whether or not it made a difference, I am not sure. Sometimes he was confused over things I wrote, but once, just once, he wrote that he thought I was a really good writer. That my stories of my time in Costa Rica made it seem like he was actually there. And even though I had a great childhood with a great father, he never once noticed what I might really be good at. And somehow, this person did, this stranger in my father’s shriveled wrinkled aged body. Connections matter and being recognized for who you really are is somehow still truly defining when it is expressed by someone else. Whether you are five years old and scared at the dark before bedtime, or you are out voyaging in the world, scattering the dust of your own life, the written word can carry more than the air.