Dear Little Duane,
You are a good boy. Your mother cannot say that, no one ever said she was a good girl, so she doesn’t know how to say it to you. Your mother loves you, but she can’t say that either. She’s not even sure she knows she loves you. But, she does. Your mother grew up feeling alone and abandoned, because she was. Her mother was overwhelmed by life and could not take care of your mother the way a mother should. She couldn’t take care of your mother, because her mother couldn’t take care of her. Her mother died when she was eight years old and her father expected her to take over some of her mother’s work. That was too much for her.
It makes sense when you think about it all together. It’s a long chain. Your granma’s momma died, so your granma couldn’t grow up with a mother, so she couldn’t be a good mother, so your mother didn’t experience having a good mother, so she doesn’t know how to be a good mother to you. But, you can change that for your children. You can be a good father and you can find a girl who can be a good mother.
It will take some patience on your part. You are ten now. It seems like a long time away, but you’ll be able to leave home in seven or eight years. That is a long time. But, you can survive it. You will do a lot of work in that time, but that will enable you to take care of your own children.
Your childhood has not been happy, but you can give your children a happy childhood. You can be the kind of parent you dad and his parents are. They are good parents and you know that. That is the kind of parent you can be.
You will be a good parent. You have already showed that with your sister and little brothers. You are kind to them, you help them. That is plenty. You are the nicest one to them. They will appreciate that more and more as they get older. Your kindness to them is proof that you are a good boy and will be a good father.
You are loved. Your father loves you more than you will ever know. He was so proud when you were born, he made a special sign. He wanted to have a business for you and him. This sign is hidden in the little shed. You’ll find it some day. It announces: “Herrmann and Son: Polled Herefords.” You were just a baby, but he was eager to include you.
You KNOW his granpa loved you. You don’t remember, but whenever people would come to visit, he would demand, “Where’s my boy?!” He wanted to see you! Your birth was the happiest day of his life after your father was born. Your birth meant that the family would continue for another generation. Your grandfather was his only son, and your father, his only son. You were proof, the family would continue.
It is important for you to know that you will be a success in life. You want to make stories. You WILL make stories, and they will be published all around the world, and in languages more than English. You mother calls you stupid and makes you feel dumb. You are not. You are a little boy who is forced to do grownup things. She can’t help herself. Be patient with her. Some day she will realize how special you are. You ARE special!! Remember that.
You are not stupid. You are not dumb. You are special, and you will do special things. You will write things no one else has ever thought of. That is pretty special. Be patient. Be kind. Hang in there and do your best.
You will succeed.
I love you.
Your older self.
3 thoughts on “Dear Little Duane by Duane L Herrmann”
So true, that it’s hard to teach what you never had the opportunity to learn (your Mom, her Mom). Love that you had people in your life to help you grow to be a person who loves and writes. Great job.
Totally bowled over by this piece. Thanks for the sentiments and the artful way the piece slowly unfolds, with new information complementing previous details until a complete picture emerges. Such forgiveness and gratitude!