When I came overseas many moons ago,
I was sent with a letter from my Mother.
In it she stated how on long voyages years ago,
people were sent with ship messages.
There was then an age of letter writing which seems to have passed,
except for the ghosts that may rove the skeleton
of some long lost ship.
There was then wind in the sails
and the creak of the boards of the ship at night.
There could be heard the rustle of silk in women’s dresses.
Men and women were probably doing just as we do today
if given the opportunity.
That is, jumping from bunk to bunk.
Right now, right at this living moment,
I am writing this on the usual, sunless, dull, German day
in the office of the captain.
In time, all our importance melts away,
and yet as a part of history
we remain an important factor in time.
The way you live,
the love you have for life,
the love you have for others and the understanding of them,
the love you have for a woman
and your unborn children
are of great importance.
Whether you are ever known as an individual,
it is the way you are
which makes the “To Be” of a better world.
Now you are nearing home to the land that I love so deeply.
I would want to claim that land
in a deeper way than you can
in your youth.
Someday you will know what I mean.
Someday you will know that the earth in a bog swamp
when you are out duck hunting
is the cleanest mud in the world.
which you spent in a foreign land.
There were circumstances you did not like.
They have helped to keep that mud as clean as it is.
I hope you are looking at that lost land
where you like to lose yourself.
You’ll find the air just a bit sharp.
You will like the smell that time of year.
Whether it is summer, fall, winter or spring,
just breathe deeper because you are alive.
God is in Nature and you are close to it and to Him.
In college it would be called Pantheism.
I’d rather call it the awareness of Don knowing Don.
You can call it whatever.
It doesn’t matter what you call it
just so you remember when it happens
and it will.
The sea where you read this is deep.
Your feet will soon touch shore.
Right now you are pipeline and lost.
Soon the inevitable pattern will establish itself.
You will be a civilian with all the responsibilities of one.
To drive safely, to love right, to build a home, and to vote
are small and important things.
To be aware when you’re on a hunting trip
that you are the greatest being God ever made
is important too.
That’s about all I have to say, Don.
This is my shipboard letter to you
with the exception of one thing.
The more you grow
the more you will become aware of this.
The older you grow
the greater is your responsibility
and the two people who created you,
your Mother and Father.
In going through his special drawer for saving things important to him,
I found this letter.
I don’t know his friend “Meade”.
I don’t need to know.
I didn’t know Don when he was newly discharged from the service.
He would have celebrated his 87th birthday in April of 2017.