Well, I still write letters to one person :).
When I lived in Detroit, there was a church just two doors down from the house Mama and I were staying in. It was one of those big, beautiful churches with a pipe organ… It was as pretty as you could get in the Mexicantown neighborhood. I think I was in the 5th grade.
Marilyn was the friend of someone who held bible studies for the homeless on Vernor Ave, a meeting we would go to every week. She soon became a friend who I spent my weekends with, just driving, talking, having discussions about Harry Potter and my beliefs. We’d go visit Windsor Canada and ride bikes, or play Rummikub on the beach. She took me out on her boat, taught me how to sing, and took me on adventures. In a time when I had very little stability at home, when I had one, Aunt Marilyn was my one positive solid figure.
She was much older, 50-something to my eleven, but we had conversations like long-lost friends. And when we were apart, either because Mama and I moved suddenly and I didn’t know my address or because of school, we wrote letters. I have stacks of letters from her since I was a kid, shipped to Italy, Georgia, various places in Detroit, and everywhere since.
No one writes letters like Aunt Marilyn. Usually amounting to 10-15 pages front and back and of the same print as that notecard above, the longer we go without writing, the longer the letter.
She calls me on my birthday to sing to me.
I worry sometimes, when she hasn’t written in a while. If it’s been more than a month I begin to wonder, is she okay? Is she sick? Overworking herself (she’s nearly 70 now)? She’s been my grown up friend for so long, always talked to me like a grown woman talking to another grown woman… She’d tell me if something was wrong, right?
Thankfully this month I’ve gotten three action-packed letters from Auntie M, this last one illustrating a burglary down her street in which the owner chased after the thief, caught him, and gave him a “stern talking to” until midnight before letting him go.