Dear…I’m not quite sure what to call you (James? Jamie? Father? Dad? Athair?),
I sit here looking at this blank piece of paper and wonder how I should scratch ink onto it and somehow convey, all at once, everything I could ever want to share with you. This is it...my one chance to speak with you. No...not “with” you…“to” you. For I will not receive a letter in return. All I have are stories from Mama about who you are that have helped me build a schema, of sorts, for how I think you might respond to the things important enough to include in this letter.
So, what is important enough to include? What do I want convey that you could think of if ever I cross your mind? What would have been most important to you, that you’d want to know about your child?
I’d guess you’d want to know that I am safe and well and happy...
I’m sure Mama shared with you that the America I know has more opportunity for an independent young woman than the America or Scotland that you know. I’ve yet to choose my path and occupation in life, but that’s not such a strange thing Now. Mama left me our house and a substantial inheritance, so I want for nothing...only to find my place in life. Mama assures me that will take some time.
I have friends and people who love me, so don’t worry about my being alone. And please reassure Mama when she frets about leaving that I have Roger and Joe who know the truth, and I can share my heart and my loss with them.
I am happy. Truly. I have a very full life in front of me. But if I’m being honest, my heart aches at the thought of losing Mama. My only comfort in letting her go is the knowledge that so much joy and happiness awaits her with you. I told her that you gave her up for me, so now it’s my turn to do the same for you...but the truth is, I’m giving her up for Her sake. She Deserves happiness more than anyone I know.
From what Mama tells me, you loved her very much, so I don’t need to convince you of how lucky you are that she fell for you...that she chose you. She’s a remarkable woman in this Time, so I could only imagine how extraordinary she is in yours. You must know how lucky you are...
At least, I hope so. Mama is no fool. She’s sometimes a little self-deprecating and overly modest, but never presumptuous or silly, so I know her assessment of your feelings for her were accurate. But a lot can change in twenty years, and I dearly hope your love for her has withstood the same test of time as her love for you. In fact, I’m counting on it.
It was striking to hear of the depth of her love for you...her passion for you. The woman who raised me has always been so composed, so quietly contained. Yet, the intensity of emotion conveyed about you and your time together left me in awe, and, quite frankly, in hopeful envy that I may, one day, find half such a love.
Frank (my other father) cared for her very much, but I always thought there was something missing between them. As great a surprise as it was to find out about you, it all made sense once the dust settled, and I realized there was nothing missing between my parents; it was that there was SOMEONE between them. How could she fully embrace him when her arms were reaching for you?
I want you to know, you made the right choice. Frank was a wonderful father. He loved me very much, and I loved him. He loved Mama, too. Perhaps not the same way you love(d?) her, but genuine in its complexity. I guess what I’m saying is that your sacrifice wasn’t for nothing.
I can’t begin to explain what a shock it was to learn my biological father was an eighteenth century Highland rebel chieftain. I’d grown up thinking I was the child of a twentieth century mild-mannered academic. I feel a great deal of loyalty to him, even in his death, so acceptance didn’t come easy. I still feel guilty at my reaction to Mama (If she brings it up, please tell her I’m sorry. I said a lot of things I didn’t mean).
My curiosity and hunger for information about you is insatiable. I liken it to Mankind’s curiosity about God, for, as I stare in the mirror with my tall frame, red hair, and blue eyes, I can see I was made in your image, and I will wonder about you until we finally meet in heaven. I hardly need Mama to describe you to me...you’re in the pieces of me where Mama is not. I look more the Highland rebel chieftain’s daughter than the academic’s, and, if I'm being honest, I probably behave as such, as well.
Mama has done her best to answer all my questions, but her experience of you is limited to her time spent with you. And who you are as a husband would be much different than who you are as a father. As wonderful as Frank was, I can’t help but feel a gaping hole in my life where you should be. What would you think of me? Would you be proud? How would you love me? Are fathers so very different where you’re from? What would my life have been like if we stayed on that side of the stones and lived?
I can’t imagine Mama would fall in love with a man who has values much different than her own, so I draw on what I know of her to try to answer these questions, and give both myself and you the benefit of the doubt.
One of the benefits of ignorance is the possibility of idealism in the dream of what a relationship would be like with you.
Mama tells me the importance of family and legacy to Highlanders...the importance of family and legacy to you specifically. Know that the legacy of the exceptional (and enviable) love you shared lives on in this far off place and time...happy, well, optimistic, and hopeful (hopeful for you and Mama, and hopeful for myself).
I don’t have to warn you to treat my mother as she deserves (I’m sure she’ll do so herself, knowing Mama), but I’m going to do it anyway. I’m giving up a great deal for her happiness, and I need you to make it worth it.
Please remind Mama often that I’m still loving her and missing her and wishing her all the best. If I have children of my own, they’ll know her through my stories...and they’ll know you through hers.
Keep Mama safe, and I’m sure she’ll keep you well.
With love, from your daughter…