I took in my surroundings. Nature, at its clichéd finest. Trees, squirrels, and fleeting clouds that warred with an overpowering blue sky. Within a few minutes, I could hear sniffles through the pine needles that dropped around me. I had been through the routine before, so I had expected it, yet it didn’t temper my excitement. It was a letter from Mom.
I opened the envelope and took a deep breath.
It was a classic leadership retreat. A bunch of high school students away for a long weekend to build both the team and self. I loved it. And so did our teacher. Prior to our departure, he had our parents write us a letter, and I held it in my hand – freed from the envelope but not from its fold.
Sniffles turned into sobs off in the distance. Heavy stuff.
There was something to a handwritten letter. I traced my finger over my name, written onto the front of the empty envelope with long sharp strokes of a blue pen instantly recognizable as my mother’s ink. And her words of encouragement, support, and love had to follow. I’m so proud of the man you’ve become – is what I hoped for, maybe even expected.
I took my time to unfold the single sheet. Single sheet?
To my surprise, there were only four words.
It took me a few moments to understand my Mom’s message. I had seen enough baby pictures to know I wasn’t, in fact, adopted. She was really funny, my Mom. But she was also someone that was never shy to show her kids how much she loved us, or how proud of us she had become.
Really, I was blessed, as we all were, with a relentless love from my Mom.
In the end, she didn’t need to write an overdue or deeply profound letter, because I already knew everything – if not more – that she could have said (the same goes for you, Pop). And like a writer learns to show and not tell, same can be true of a mother and her son – or a son and his son – and that’s the lesson I’ll always carry with me, taught to me by none other than my Mom.