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Dear Margaret,

Greetings from snowy Mt. Horeb!  I’m just writing to wish you a happy birthday and to say that I hope all is well with you, Dave, and the children.  It’s been such an awfully long time since I’ve written.

I wonder, how is the weather out there in Hawaii?  I do hope you’ve remembered to use sunscreen.  But of course you have.  You’ve lived there twelve years now.  I guess the watchful habits of an elder sister are slow to die.  Hard to believe you’re sixty.

I’ve been meaning to thank you for the gift you sent, Christmas 2006.  It’s such a lovely little instrument, fills me with guilt I haven’t a clue how to play it.  But then again, God knows where I’d find lessons for the uke – ukalele – uckulayle – well, it doesn’t matter how to spell it, because we both know I’ll never send this letter anyway.

Did Dave really have pneumonia last fall?  I’m not accusing you of anything.  I suppose I don’t care one way or the other anymore.  You’ve always gone your own way, the rest of us be damned.  Still, it was strange to bury Mom without you.

Sometimes I catch myself thinking back to those days, when everything fell apart.  It all seems like a dream now – little wisps of memory here and there, still images, and soundbites.  I’ll never forgive myself for what I called you.  No one deserves that kind of language, least of all from family.

But I was so very angry – you have to understand.  You had me so riled up and twisted round.  I wouldn’t have minded about the money, I could have gotten over that in time.  It was the secrets, Margaret.  The two of you, scheming behind my back.  He left right after you did, did you know that?  I only ever saw his lawyer after.  And no idea where he’s gone to.  It’s cruel to think, but maybe it was for the best that we couldn’t have children.

What am I blathering on about?  Events long gone in a letter soon deleted.  But then again, I tend to be the weepy one on birthdays.  Now.

Well, happy birthday Margaret.  I’ll send the thought at least.  I hope Dave and the kids are doing well.  The boys must be full grown men by now.  Of course they are.  That’s the way time works.

Maybe someday, I’ll actually send a letter.  Someday when I’ve gathered up the gall.  Or downed enough gin.  Or maybe – maybe when I’ve finally taken lessons, and I can tell you just how much I love to play the ukah – uku – youkoo – ukulele.

Or then again, maybe not.

Yours always,

Helen

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