When I was in Oregon visiting my parents, I found a whole treasure trove of family history information. Most of it is exciting to family, and to genealogy geeks. But I did find a wonderful letter to my dad from his step-aunt (his stepfather’s sister). She was a Catholic nun, known to the family as F.X. She didn’t date the letter, sadly, but it’s probably about 1970. My dad was deciding whether to go back to Ohio University for his junior year or not. In the end, he went to Denver and found the path that led him to Orthodoxy.
I don’t remember F.X.; I’m not even sure if she was still alive when I was born. I’ve heard stories about her all my life, but this is the first time I really managed to get a sense of who she was.
I’m going to quote the letter in its entirety, spelled just as it is, with a few annotations for clarity’s sake.
Well, this is a very bad rainy Sunday night. I believe really if you were out in the rain it would take the curl out of your hair tonight. [My father and his brother Phil both have very curly hair.] I wonder if you have a girl friend down there. If so, no doubt you are out tonight. But I guess anymore the young folks don’t have dates on Sunday nights. I forgot about that. It used to be when I was a girl that Sunday night was a date night.
Well Mike, I am sorry that I didn’t get to see you when you were home. You sounded so cheerful when I talked with you on the phone, it really made me feel good. It will just a few days until you will be home again. Your mother is counting the hours. I was talking with her tonight. She and I had a good laugh on the telephone. Everything sounded so funny. I was telling her about some crazy things that happened here at St. Mary’s. I was talking with your Dad [my step-grandfather, F.X.’s brother] the other day and he told me that you have changed your mind about school. Everyday I look out at this building and I think of you sitting behind a desk giving orders and making money being an architect but then again Mike if you want to work for God, the social work is the thing to do and you can do it. You have a wonderful mind.
Dick Schmidt’s wife told me that she saw you at the wedding and of course she said that she didn’t know how you got such long curley hair. I told her that you didn’t get it at the barber shoppe, beauty shoppe or wherever men go to have their hair done. I told her that God gave it to you. You had it ever since you were a little fellow and that you and Phil neither one like curley hair. That is always the way. The boys get the curley hair and the girls get the straight. She said that she had never seen a boy with such fair complexion and such curley hair. She said that you looked handsome and had a very beautiful look on your face. I liked that. I patted myself on the back for that and was so glad to hear that she wasn’t the only one who told how good looking you were. However, I do think you were better looking when you had short hair but neverless that doesn’t take the goodness out of you. I love you anyway Mike whatever you are. I know that you are a good boy and that means everything.
Every minute of the day I think about how nice my walls look and thank you for doing them for me. Maybe next spring they won’t be as hard to do. I think I told your Mother about my putting a little money away at a time so that I would have enough to reward you a little bit for this task that you do for me.
I won’t make this longer Mike because I will soon be seeing you.
May God bless and keep you and may your grades be higher than the moon. That is a whole lot I know.
Your foster Aunt,