My father, Ed Collins, died when my son, Kyle, was just one year old. Perhaps he knew his time was short because on April 28, 1994, less than three months after Kyle was born, he wrote him this letter. On the envelope it said “To Kyle on his 18th birthday.” We gave it to Kyle this past February. We had waited for years to see this treasure and hear my father’s voice again. I’ve transcribed the letter here in my father’s words, as he wrote it down.
A LETTER TO MY ONLY GRANDSON
Before you read and understand this letter, I may no longer be here. I just want you to know, it was the best day of my life when you were born. The 4th of February will always be a holiday. I will celebrate it as long as I live. I remember February 2nd, when my brother was born, and February 15 when my father was born in 1878.
I doubt if you will ever comprehend what time it was. No electricity, radio, T.V. or computers. Those things are taken now so much for granted, yet 125 years ago people went to bed when it got dark, the rooster was the alarm clock and at 5 o’clock in the morning people got up to eat breakfast made from oats, Oatmeal. They took a horse drawn street car, or in winter a sleigh to go to work.
I was born in 1922. Things were already much better by then. In some homes there was electricity. Mother made breakfast on a stove burning coal. In winter 25 below 0 was a normal winter day in far away Poland where I lived.
Maybe someday you will look at a map of the world to discover to your amazement that you have some kinship in cities like Tarnow and Krakow, and maybe when you travel through Europe, you will stop in those cities. They meant a lot to me. I was a very sentimental Polack. I also made a good American.
You will travel a different road in your life. Your father and mother will show you the modern way of life that befits the end of the 20th-21st century. I envy you. It will be a time full of exciting inventions to make life easier for people to live. It will be a life full of temptations to take the most comfortable road to success.
Take a little advice from a man that passed this way. You will never know, nor will you understand life and compassion if you take the easiest road in life. To understand life a man has to take some bumps and climb some fences. Stop, smell the flowers, live each day, as if it was your last. Don’t wait for thanks and appreciation from others, just do things the best and most humane way, you will never go wrong.
Just ask yourself, is it the truth, is it fair? Will it build goodwill and better friendship, will it be beneficial to all concerned. If you take this road, you might not always win, but you will never lose, while climbing the road, the steep mountain that blocks your way, on the way to becoming a man. Love, Ed Collins, Your Grandfather.
For more on Vicky Collins visit her website at Teletrends Television Production and Development.