Literacy and Liberty

Dear Pa,
Posted by: , September 4, 2018, 6:44 pm
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I have learned that sometimes the ones that we think are the strongest have a cracked foundation, as if they are skyscrapers awaiting their fate of crumbling into ruins.

My life as a child was a repetitive storyline with set characters. Every Sunday, my entire family ate dinner at my grandparents’ house. The head of the table was always occupied by the same character: the patriarch, my grandfather.

My grandfather’s strength was evident. However, he was¬†hiding immense pain. When I was thirteen, he committed suicide. The storyline that I knew by heart was ripped in half, the head of the table suddenly empty. I became empty, too.

To cope, I turned to writing. I wrote letters to him, addressed “Dear Pa,”. I would express my grief, or tell him about my day.¬†This lasted for two years, until I realized I was not getting better.

Instead of writing a letter one night, I read through the previous two years. I began to see that I was clinging to the loss that I had endured, not to my Pa himself. This realization was a turning point.

I no longer mull over my loss. Instead, I contemplate my grandfather’s successes, and reflect on his best moments. In this way, I use the strength that he had taught me. I live in a way that would make him proud. I am okay.

Skyscrapers fall, but that does not mean they weren’t at one point sturdy, and something is always rebuilt in their place.


2 Comments so far
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Jess, thank you for sharing this story. I’m sure it’s painful to reflect on this loss, even though you “no longer mull” over it. To turn this post into a more focused literacy event essay, I wonder if you might quote one of the letters you wrote to “Pa” and/or situate your readers (our seminar!) more concretely in why literacy, why *writing*, helped you through this tragedy.

   Professor Seiler 09.05.18 @ 3:59 pm

This story was really moving to me. The fact that you wrote letters to cope with your loss really shows how powerful of a tool literacy/writing can be when you use it in the right way. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

   Kelly Coyle 09.07.18 @ 4:45 pm

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