Letters to Roy
Starting back in about 2003, I began to document the travels I was taking with my wife, Beverly. The pages and photos were put together as a story for my brother, Roy. Roy is my older brother who lived in Chicago. His working life and his retirement had been restricted most of the time to the north side of that city. He never travelled. I hoped Roy would sort of be taken along on our trips even if not physically.
As time went on, the number of pages for some trips grew quite large. Beverly and I also wondered if the size of some efforts was not "overkill" – just too much for Roy to digest or to maintain interest. Nevertheless, I continued. Then in early January 2014 on one of our extremely short visits, Roy showed us his archive of my letters. They were stored in manila mailing envelopes -- titled and dated, as I recall, with the trip destination and year of the excursion.
Maybe someone else in my family will enjoy these letters to my brother. I don't believe they contain anything very personal. As I began this website, my plan was to provide a menu of years – 2003, 2004,..., 2014. Click on a year and a page will open with the links to letters concerning trips taken that year. For example, click on 2012, and you will reach a page showing the top link: Travel to Rainy in Aug 2012. Click on that link and you'll find a four-page letter with lots of photos. Next is a list of 14 to 16 episodes of our trip to California that spanned the holidays in 2011-2012.
Special trips include Israel/Palestine 2004, El Salvador 2006, Cambodia 2007, Costa Rica 2008, etc. Besides the travelogues, I will probably include some other writings which give personal background – memories of the past.
This little article is being revised right now because Roy died on July 2, 2014. Wow, do I miss him!!! Besides being my brother and childhood playmate, I considered him to be someone who was there to listen/read my words about what I saw today, what I recall about way back when, and what amazing things I had heard on the news. [Come to think of it, poor Beverly serves that purpose as well. I am blessed.] My mental notebook was always collecting items for that next letter. Now I find myself stopping the compiling when I realize that he is not there to receive that letter. Yes, maybe this is time to be creative so that I can continue this writing.
As I mentioned above, we knew Roy had a collection of my old letters. However, I had assumed that he had kept just the account of our big trips in those manila folders. Wrong!! When we cleaned out his meager belongings, we found all my letters from back to 2011. Plus he had other cards and family history items back to 2007 or so. Just like me, Roy had moved several times in the past few years. As recent as 2009 he spent some time in the hospital between his living in the North Hotel and then Woodbridge Nursing Pavilion. Although he had little accumulated at the North Hotel, such a move left him with even less. I distinctly remember that he lived in Woodbridge for some time before a Woodbridge employee visited the hotel to get Roy's things. His archive of my letters was probably left or thrown out then. On this end, Beverly and I have lived in Richfield since 1998 and my cache of Roy's writings – about 330 letters -- only goes back to 2006. How many times over the years have large blocks of letters had to be thrown out?? For myself, I suppose I have had to clean house every 10 years.
Letter writing has been our brotherly link since we left home in the 1960s. He was in Chicago and I was in Missouri, New York, or Minnesota over these past 50+ years. Roy never had easy access to a phone. His time for the two months before his death was unique in that he had the hospital phone and we spoke at least once almost every day. But letters had been a regular thing. As I look at it now, letter writing was truly a sacrament as we defined sacraments back in grade school. Writing to each other was a sign of our love and a sign of the bond between us. Maybe the fact that I began this website around these letters indicates that even before he died, I knew our writing was special. That notion – of the letters as a sacrament -- has become so abundantly clear since Roy's passing. It is something to cherish and ponder.
In this phase of my website creation, I am installing the letters I sent to Roy. Now I am still planning how I can organize and exhibit Roy's hand-written letters in this medium.