Maxine Clamage

Letters to a Lost Soldier – Postscript and Thank You note

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Dear Daddy,

(I originally wrote in December, 1947) You are really home from the war. You are no longer a lost soldier. You work in your own business as a florist and make people happy with your beautiful flower arrangements. When I go to the flower shop with you on Sundays, we sell flowers to people who stop on their way home from church. I see you enjoy making arrangements for the hospital. The patients and nurses love receiving the gifts you generously donate to them.

You have recovered from your war experiences and I am grateful that you are again the happy, joking father you were before the war. I see you creating floral displays, taking individual stems and weaving them into works of art. You study the position of each flower and get deeply engrossed in your arrangements.

I am grateful you are interested in my schoolwork. You ask what I’m learning and we have discussions. My dreams came true. I am proud that you attend PTA meetings, participate in parent-teacher conferences, and visit open house displays and performances at my school. You bring flowers to the principal and teachers and they all love you. My heart is full of happiness.
You helped me plant a hydroponic garden at the side of our house and are teaching me about flowers and plants. The inside of our home looks like a funeral parlor because you can’t bear to throw out flowers that aren’t quite good enough to sell. We are always surrounded by beauty. We even have enough left over to share with our neighbors.

When Mommy is busy working with you at your store during the week, I have dinner with Mimi and Bepa next door. I do my homework at their kitchen table after school and talk with Mimi while she is preparing dinner. I’m happy that Mommy cooks dinner on Sundays while you and I are at work and we come home to a have nice family time together. We listen to Walter Winchell on the radio and “What’s That Song?’ I always know the name of the song, but our telephone never rings. Since the announcer doesn’t call us, we can’t win a prize, but I feel that my life is now filled with prizes and surprises.

When we go out to dinner on Restaurant Row, we try out new foods. I’m eating more salads in Los Angeles than in Chicago, where we always had meat and potatoes, canned peas and fruit cocktail. I like eating seafood, Mexican and Italian dishes in restaurants that I didn’t eat before. You notice the table manners of other people and comment. Hint, hint. Just in case I’m invited to The White House, you want me to know which fork to use. I appreciate the attention you give me and will always be grateful that you recovered from your war wounds and are getting back to being your old self.

I love telling you about my trips to museums with classmates in the Opportunity Room. You are interested when I talk about the performances I have seen at the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the San Francisco ballet and the San Francisco Opera. You didn’t know before that Forest Lawn Cemetery has a stained glass replica of Leonardo’s “Last Supper,” and you stop by to see it when you are delivering flowers there. You ask what I have learned at the Griffith Park Observatory and we have discussions about constellations and planets. It’s wonderful for me to be able to share so much with you.

My prayer now is for all war veterans to recover as you have and be well and happy as you are. I am proud that you have joined the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars to help others and also the Lions Club on Wilshire Boulevard. You like being involved in the community and are teaching me by example how to be a good citizen.

I won’t need to write letters to you anymore because we are talking. Thank you for being a good father.

Love,

Maxine

 
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