My father, my penpal

by Calla Fireman from Ottawa, ON
Mar 23, 13

When I was eleven years old, I complained that I never got any mail. After weeks of listening to me, my father was spurred into action. One day I got a letter from him. He mailed it from his office.  

And thus began a penpal correspondence that lasted a year and a half: I would mail my letters to my father’s office and he would mail his reply to me at home. We wrote about many things: we discussed politics, arts and culture, and of course, my allowance.  

It was wonderful having a penpal. I looked forward to my dad's letters. 

That was when I was eleven. 

Today I'm a middle aged Baby Boomer headed towards my retirement. My father took a late retirement himself only 5 years ago. Around that time he drove over to my place one evening, knocked on the door and handed me a package. He had been clearing out his office and had come across a bundle of letters in the back of a drawer. The letters I'd written him as a young girl. I couldn't believe he'd kept them all these years! I sat down and read them that evening with tears and lots of laughter. One said: "Thanks for the dollar allowance, it'll do fine until I need some more." Another one asked about a recent election result. It said: "if a candidate gets a minority, do they still get to run the country?"  

I was a shy girl. I was not one to express a lot of emotion. But one postcard I wrote had a P.S.. It said, "I've got a secret to tell you - I love you, Dad."

As I read through the letters, I pictured him back then: a young doctor, building a career, supporting a wife and three growing children, yet finding the time, and taking the initiative, to make his daughter feel important.  

So I sat down one more time and I wrote my father another letter. I thanked him for being a sensitive, caring parent, who made such a difference in a my life. I told him he made me feel special and his thoughtfulness had meant so to me. I ended the letter with a P.S. "P.S.” I wrote “I've got a secret to tell you - I love you, Dad."