I have a spent a lot of bitter moments contemplating the parenting job done by my father. More recently, memories of difficult times in my childhood because of my father’s alcoholism and violent tendencies when he was drunk have been rising up like bile in my stomach. I’m a writer; but I’ve not written much about my father, except in oblique references, because I’ve tried to let the past be in the past. I have, however, complained about him.
But I’m trying to let all forms of complaining go.
In that spirit, then, I’d like to share with those who read this blog, a letter from my father that I recently found in a box in our attic.
It is post-marked 18 May 1990, and sent to “Corinne Corley” c/o the law firm in Fayetteville AR where I worked at the time. But the undated letter is addressed to me by my first name:
This is one of the things that I seem to be totally inadequate at doing, but I will try —
Your pursuit of the Legal profession was — is — and will remain to be a great source of pride — and a bit of self-indulgence — in the mere fact that I think that I helped you go the route you did.
Your success — from solo tries to a now apparent success in a good firm — show that your desire and ambition are on their way to fulfillment.
I only wish that I could have helped more — but your self-reliance and determination — carried you far beyond my hopes.
I wish that I could have helped more.
All my love — congratulations and remote help are yours.
My father — my brother — and now you. What more could I ask?
With much love
My father’s references are to his father, John L. Corley, and his brother, Robert D. Corley, both of whom were attorneys. My father himself had been a bookkeeper after the War, but due to his alcoholism, did not hold a job much after about 1960, although in his later years, he worked part-time as a wood worker for a neighbor’s upholstery shop. My father was whip-smart and would have made an excellent attorney.
Both my father and my Uncle Bob encouraged me to go to law school. My Uncle Bob taught me the elements of a contract. I aced Contracts in part because of him.
As I move forward in this quest for a complaint-free life, complaining about my father’s failures is something that I intend to consciously cease. Finding this letter and sharing it helps me remember that in everyone there is both bad and good.
Rest in Peace, Pops. I hope I continued to make you proud all the days of your life, and all the days of mine.
Kansas City, 19 March 2014