Letters to Myself (2)
All letters deserve an answer, so here goes: my first letter from my present-day self to my six-year-old self. I’m enjoying this new way of journalling – I’d be interested to hear if anyone else out there has ever written to themselves at a younger age. Johnny-Boy was the name my mother often called me, and sometimes my elder sisters echo it in our present-day conversations. It’s a handy way to separate my then-self from my now-self.
216 Clydesdale Road
Nova Scotia B2G 2K9
Saturday, April 21st, 2018
My dearest Johnny-Boy,
What a wonderful surprise to get your letter! I found it just lying there on my desk in my study today when I went there after breakfast. A belated but very happy sixth birthday, by the way! To think you could write to me from 70 years and 2 months ago— I’m still coming down from the clouds! God really does make miracles. I started to try to understand how this could happen, but then I thought, no, I’m not supposed to know how miracles happen—that’s the whole point of them. We human beings can no more know their secret than we can know what God looks like, or where Heaven is. Which is the way it’s meant to be, in my opinion. But I do think miracles happen all the time all over the world, and perhaps we can learn to notice them more if we pay good attention.
So I’m writing back to you straightaway, Johnny-Boy, and we’ll see what happens. The best thing seems to be to tell you a bit about myself right now. And I won’t make it too long, or you’ll go straight to sleep after this first page! Well, here I am in my fourth (and possibly my last) quarter-century. Yes, I could easily be your granddad. And I’m very happy to say that I do believe in God. Not everyone does, but I know Mummy believed in God with all her heart—her very last words to me were “God bless you.” I’ll try very hard to write this letter so you can understand and enjoy everything I put in it. Just as if Mummy was reading to you from “Now We Are Six.” (Gosh, I loved that book). If there’s stuff here—or just words— you don’t get, you can just ask Mummy or your sisters to explain them.
Antigonish, where I live, is a small town in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia. England has counties, like Devon and Somerset, where you’ve lived so far, and America has states, like Ohio and Florida, where I lived when I was working there. I live here with my wife, Dorothy, who was born in another Canadian province called Ontario. She will be seventy-one on May 7th this year, which means she is 51/4 years younger than me. So how old does that make me? And how much older than you? Whoops, I don’t mean to turn this letter into a test!
The most important thing to tell you is that Dorothy and I are very, very happy together. I’m sorry to say that not everyone is when they get to be our age. Actually, I don’t think I’ve been so happy since I was your age! We live in the countryside on the edge of town, and every night in the summertime we can smell the cow’s manure! I haven’t smelt that smell much since I went on that holiday back to Devon with our sister Jane, when I was about the same age as you are now. It was quite near where you and I were born in Mummy’s and Daddy’s bed in “Dobbs”, in High Bickington, right on the edge of Dartmoor. In a few years, you’ll probably be reading about a famous made-up detective called Sherlock Holmes who solved a big mystery that happened right there, called “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Did you know Dobbs was 400 years old and still has a working well probably the same age?
Anyway, what do I do with myself every day? Well, we have a big garden, in which we plant lots of vegetables and flowers. And we have strawberries and raspberries and gooseberries, too. So when it’s just a bit warmer, we’ll be very busy planting beans and carrots and tomatoes and potatoes and zucchini (that’s the same as vegetable marrow in England). I also write stories and poems and of course letters (something people don’t do too much nowadays, which I think is a great pity). I cook most of our meals, which I love doing. We are vegetarians, which means we don’t eat meat or fish. I’ll tell you more about that another time.
Are you asleep yet? I certainly think that’s plenty for a first letter to you. But I do wonder if I’ll be getting any more letters from you??
I love you, love you, love you,