Letters From Home
Lest you think my family was being mean to my mother in poking fun at her lost Frank Sinatra record, let me tell you a little story about my mother’s sense of humor …
I was in college in the early 70′s. No one had very much money, but you didn’t need much either.
My mother sent me a little cash every week.
She didn’t want me to have to go to the bank, so she’d mail cash. She’d fold it inside a sheet of paper, so no one could see that there was money in the envelope. She had some inexpensive stationery she had picked up at the five-and-ten (that’s like Wal-Mart, for you youngsters). It was a pale lavender with violets in the corners. Just the sight of that lavender envelope in my mailbox cheered me right up. Usually there was a ten-dollar bill inside, but if Mom was feeling especially generous, there would be a twenty. That would be a red-letter day (in a purple envelope).
Unlike me, who can’t seem to stop writing, my mother hated to write. The most she would write on that folded lavender paper was:
With my weekly cash, I would go to the grocery store and buy bread, peanut butter, and tea bags. On weeks that I didn’t need tampax, I would buy a few other staples, like potato chips and yodels. I could have a hamburger once a week instead of eating in the dorm. I liked this dark cellar hole of a restaurant where, when you picked up your hamburger, the grease ran down to your elbows.
And I could go to the movies for the student price of $0.99. (I saw “Jesus Christ Superstar” six times during finals week, because Mom sent a twenty.)
Ah, the good old days.
So after five years as an undergrad (I changed my major a few times) my parents were a little anxious for me to graduate. But I decided that it might be a good idea to get my teacher’s certification. So I had to do an extra semester of student teaching.
Mom and Dad were practical people, and knew that teaching credentials were a good idea, but they had already put the three of us girls through school, and still had my brother to educate too. They were supportive of an additional semester, but they told me that I had to fund this one myself.
So I worked my ass off during the summer, and paid my tuition, and went off to teach in Puerto Rico. (Don’t ask me how I ended up there…but it was very cool.)
I lived a cheaply as possible. A nice family put me up, so I had plenty of peanut butter. I didn’t have any spending money, but I took the school bus with the kids, and went to the beach on the weekend. Pretty good, even broke.
And about a month into my semester, I got a letter from home. In my mother’s lavender and violet stationery!
She relented! I would get a little money after all!
And I tore open the envelope, took out the single sheet of lavender paper, and read: