I was sitting at the kitchen table nibbling on a piece of dry wheat toast fresh out of the toaster when LeAnn walked into the kitchen
“Mama, this book, Heal Your Body, by Louise Hay says that disease starts in the mind, and high blood pressure and heart trouble are results of longstanding emotional problems that are not resolved. What are you holding onto? Who is that man?” she pointed to the 8×10 picture lying on the table. “Whatever it is, you need to let it go.”
“LeAnn, my heart condition is a result of years of eating too much fried chicken, and smoking too many cigarettes. Besides, I already dealt with most of my emotional issues. There is nothing that’s not resolved.” Just then a memory from my childhood ripped through my mind like a bolt of lightning tugging and pulling at my heart. I was standing on our front porch; it was a long gray wooden porch with a picket type wooden banister that connected the porch to the house. Four steps led up to the porch. A black metal mailbox sat near the top step. I saw myself sad and disappointed standing at the mailbox rummaging through the mail.
“Mama I’m talking about emotional pain. What hurt are you holding onto?” The thought of him made me want to cry. I fought back the tears. Could that be subconsciously bothering me after all these years? I wondered. This is my opportunity to tell her the truth. After all she’s not a child anymore she should know about him. LeAnn was walking out of the kitchen when I reached for her arm and pulled her back. “Wait a minute, LeAnn, there IS something I never RESOLVED.”
She stopped and sat down in the chair next to me and leaned towards me resting her arm on the glass table as she waited to hear what I had to say.
“I took a deep breath let it out slowly and swallowed. “During high school, I was in love with a boy from Akron, Ohio. He was a few years older than me, and when he graduated from high school he joined the Air Force. We wrote for a year or more. Then while he was stationed at Langley Air Force Base in Hampton, Virginia, one night the phone rang. Mama answered it. I stood there waiting to see if it was for me, but she kept on talking. So I went on washing the dinner dishes. After a few minutes, she called me to the phone. It was him! I was so excited. He had never called before. We communicated by letter.”
“What did grandma say to him? She asked as she moved my plate to the side.
“I don’t know. I wasn’t paying attention because I thought it was for her. He was calling from Langley Air Force Base. He said he sent me a picture of him and to look for it in the mail. Of course he asked how I was doing and I told him everything that was going on with me. He listened quietly.”
“It sounds like he was a nice guy,” she said smiling.
“He was a very kind caring person. He was always concerned about how I was doing. And that I was doing good in school. I noticed that he was very quiet. I asked him “What was wrong?” He assured me that everything was okay. He said he wanted to ask me something, I said, “Okay just ask, but then he said never mind, I’ll wait.”
“What do you think he wanted to ask you?” I thought about what he could have wanted.
“I don’t know. I didn’t have any idea and I didn’t press him. My heart started racing and a dizzy feeling came over me. I had a feeling that there was something major on his mind. The thought of what it could be was frightening. He told me that he loved me, and I said I loved him too. Then we said goodbye. I felt relieved when I hung the phone up.”
“Why were you relieved?” She frowned.
“I didn’t have to hear what was on his mind. I was afraid.”
“Afraid of what?” she asked.
“I don’t know. I was just afraid that it would be bad news.”
“What kind of bad news were you afraid of?”
“I don’t know. I guess that he was going to the war in Vietnam. I sensed something real wrong. But I was too scared to ask. After a few days, I received a large envelope with this picture of him in his uniform and hat. I held the picture up close. I could barely see his eyes for the brim of his hat that covered them. A few days later, I received a letter asking me to marry him in eighteen months when he got out of the military, after that, I never heard from him again. That was in nineteen sixty-seven. I don’t know what happened. Leon just suddenly stopped writing.” I looked up at LeAnn. Her soft friendly smile had turned cold; her eyes were dark and empty.
“Leon?” she said. A serious disappointed look appeared on her face.