My dearest son,
I know you are hurting. This is not easy for you at all, you don't want to discuss it, you don't want to think about it, you don't want to be living this, our new normal. Neither do I. Unfortunately we don't have any choice. He left us here, and we must learn to face life without him.
I see your anger.I hear it in your voice when you can't hold it in any longer. You tried, you really, honestly tried, to get him to eat better. You really tried, to get him to get up and move more. Habits though, are so difficult and at times impossible to break.
You saw the photos of your dad as a younger man. He was handsome and slim. He was active in his life, doing anything he chose, and doing it without difficulty. I know, you never got to meet that man. You do look like him though. Check out your reflection in the mirror and then look at those photos again, you will see that younger version of your day staring right back at you.
That man doffed spinning in a cotton mill. That was a job that kept him moving, kept him slender. Having to push a doff box as he used his arms to doff spinning bobbins from that frame, moving from frame to frame through out the night. He was quick and he was good at what he did. He just wanted better. He thought if he could get out of manufacturing, he could provide a better life for us. Sadly though, that move was the beginning of that downward slide.
You saw the video of the Christmas when you were a toddler, you got a big wheel and this big plastic outdoor play center. You ran over me with the big wheel and then had a blast outside as you would run around, ask for help getting up to the slide and then down and around again. Each time with a "help me" and off you'd go. In the video you can hear your dad's voice, his laughter at your antics. He did love you so very much. The night you were born its a wonder he didn't get arrested he drove so fast getting to the hospital from Charlotte, NASCAR drivers could take lessons from that. When he held you that first time, he was crying, he had a son. He had you.
He finally quit smoking for you. He tried to go outside and smoke, or out on the back porch, away from you. The smoke though, would cling to his clothing or be sucked back into the house when he opened the door. You kept getting ear infections until I read that article that said that second hand smoke could cause the infections. He went to the doctor, got some kind of medicine to help him fight the cravings and he quit smoking. Put the pack down and walked away. He did however, start eating more. A lot more. Of course that meant the weight gain began in earnest. Add the eating more, to exercising less thanks to the job change and the slide grew worse.
The extra weight caused him to be diagnosed with a variety of ailments. Diabetes, but that runs in the family so that could have shown up at any time. High blood pressure, high cholesterol, excess water weight was the worst three. He did eat less sweets. I tried to make sure there wasn't a lot in the house when he was home.
Yes, there was another job change. Where he was working shut down and there he was, a man with no high school diploma and few choices. He tried to get his GED, but he wasn't the best reader and when someone made fun of him for that, he quit. It was the only thing I had ever seen him quit, but he was embarrassed and he couldn't handle that embarrassment. Not even for us. Instead of running the risk of more embarrassment trying to get that piece of paper, he did what he had talked about off and on for years. He signed up to learn to drive a truck. He was determined that he would have a way to provide for us, even if it meant being gone for long stretches.
Between the three of us, he managed to do the training and ace that pre-trip test. The day he graduated he had his first driving job. We helped him get packed, we saw him off, and we waited on the phone calls.
Over the course of his driving career we faced many challenges together. With him not having a so called smart phone he would call and ask questions, ask for help finding the easiest way to a place, find a place period. He would ask questions about words, wanting to make sure what he wrote was correct. I know it was because he still heard those people laughing and he didn't want anyone thinking him less intelligent. He was out there, he was so far away from home, doing what he could to provide, because he loved us and would do what he had to do to earn a living.
I know that you're hurting. I saw your face that day we found out. I saw the raw pain, the agony of knowing that he would never come home. I saw the look of understanding that we would never again get into any sort of discussion over directions or addresses or anything related to his job. He would never again be here to tell us the correct way to do things. Never tell me or you that we aren't driving safely.
But of all the nevers son, never... ever... never.. forget, that above nearly all else, he loved you. He loved talking to you. He loved going places with you, spending time with you, hearing you explain things in your way. You are and always will be his son. I know, that he was proud of you, no matter what he said. Even that time you and he nearly came to blows, he never stopped loving you. Remember that, if you forget everything else, remember that he loved and always will love you.