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There is No Surer Foundation for a Beautiful Friendship Than a Mutual Taste in Literature

Beautiful friendship

I find this task difficult. Writing to you.

I don’t want to be sentimental. Schmaltzy. You are my best friend! I’m so proud to be your daughter. Everything is amazing now that we’re adult friends!!  I mean, you are, and I am, and it is… but it’s much more.

It’s complicated. It’s always been complicated. And not just because we are family and family is always complicated.

Combine two people with personalities the size of Montana, opinions the size of Asia, and egos the size of Neptune, put them in the same Midwest home and complication ensues.

You wouldn’t know to look at us.

We easily talk about weather, politics, British TV, the cats. You tell me everything there is to know about Winston Churchill, including how old he was when his likeness was captured for the pub sign down the street. You send me clippings of your favorite online pundits, printed, mailed overseas to London, just in case I don’t know what’s happening to my native land. Mailed because the “forward this article” function is not only lost on you but there is something about the tactile act of gathering paper that feels authentic, historic, comforting. I’m sympathetic. I collect papers, too. We will be buried in our small rooms, covered with books. And we have a special tender place in our hearts, protected and sacred, that is reserved for animals. And very special cats. And neither of us can imagine our lives without each other, because that path was never taken.

But still, it’s complicated.

Probably because we’re so damn similar. Mom always said, “You are just like your father.  You and your father!!  You’re your father’s daughter.”  Like that was in doubt, like we aren’t the exact same personality. She felt overwhelmed.  I’m sure many people did. Hell, I do.

I am very much like you. As a result of your strong hand, good taste, and my natural inclinations.

Remember how I ran –  just like you?
How I adore Wodehouse – just like you?
How I have core values; a sense of right and wrong, of duty and responsibility?
How I have an aquiline nose and strong shoulders and a powerful legs? (Thank god I got Mom’s eyesight.)
How I throw out nicknames like it’s our language?
How I married my better half, without whom I’d be lost?
You know this innate sense of character, which we cling to even when nothing else is there?
And how I have feelings and frustrations I find it difficult to express?
How I never thought I was good enough, smart enough, strong enough (but I always was)?
And how the person with whom I have the most kinship, in the world is my father. Just like you.

My husband – a man who greatly reminds me of you –  said it best; “You two light up around each other. And then the whole room lights up.” He gets overwhelmed by us, but mostly loves us.

We have a bond, Dad. A strong one. You see you in me. You feel close to me because of that. And perhaps are harder on me because of that. At times, you couldn’t unsee you and just notice me.

Being like you is very difficult, Dad.

You are strong, noticed, powerful, unique. I had to get out from your shadow, I did what I could to be different.  To be unique. To be seen. It became nearly impossible. Into the valley of death we rode. Dad, I wasn’t rejecting you, I was expanding into myself.

Precociously, for sure, stubbornly, inadequately – of course. But all very necessary.

Now I’m my own person. I’m you, mom, and ME. (And I love the parts that are like you). But most of all ME. I know you don’t always understand me, or what I do and why. I know it’s different from what you expected. But that is how daughters are. We’re mystifying, exasperating, and endlessly charming. And not programmable. I hope to learn that myself one day.

I also know you marvel at your kids, at our marriages and our lives. I know you love us beyond words, beyond actions. I know it is paralyzing, frightening, to feel that deeply about things you cannot control. I know how much you love me. I know, I’ve always known. To be loved, to feel loved, is the best gift a person can give anyone else, and as a parent, it is really the only thing that your children want from you.

You did that. You and Mom did that for me.

That, and you influenced my grand taste in literature. The stars are God’s daisy chain, and all that.

I’m so glad I’m like you. I love you so much.

Always, your Little E

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