Letters to Eileen

Letters to Eileen

From A 4th Course of Chicken Soup for the Soul

Letters to Eileen

Achild needs your love most when she deserves it the least.

Anonymous

I have three children. Paul, the oldest and only boy, is named for his dad. Theresa, the baby of the family, has her daddy’s brown eyes and curly hair.

Eileen is the middle child. She is named for me and my mother whose name was Eileen Ann. When I was born, my mother turned it around and named me Ann Eileen. So when my first girl was born, I did the same thing, naming her Eileen Ann.

Eileen showed a streak of independence from the early age of five months. She refused to let anyone feed her, determined to do things her way.

All three kids were great fun to be around. They worked hard, had senses of humor and did well in what they attempted. Like all homes, however, there were times when we initiated a discussion of some behavior that their dad and I wanted improved. With Paul and Theresa, the reactions ranged from quiet agreement to vocal disagreements, but always with a mutual clearing of the air.

With Eileen there were never any discussions. She immediately objected to our right to have an opinion, stomped up the stairs to her room, slammed the door, turned the music up loud and announced she did not want to discuss it! Several times in the early days I tried reasoning with her, but this only irritated her further.

One day out of a need for Eileen to hear our side, I wrote her a letter. In the letter I explained her dad’s and my position and what we wanted changed. I waited until she left for school the next day to put the letter on her bed. She never mentioned the letter, and I never found any evidence of it. But her behavior changed!

As the years passed, there were more letters left while she was at school, at work or on a date-probably two or three letters a year for a period of 14 years. She never acknowledged the letters or discussed what was in them, but her behavior would change. Occasionally she stated as she went upstairs, “And don’t write me one of those letters!” Of course, I wrote a letter.

Eileen’s dad died in 1990. Three years later, she got engaged, and I was determined not to be the overbearing mother of the bride. Everything went well until about a month before the wedding. We had a disagreement. She indignantly told me she was 24 years old and a special education teacher about to be married. She also told me not to write her a letter! I wrote her a letter.

Three days before the wedding, Eileen was packing things to move to her new home. She told me there was a box in her closet that was not to be thrown away. “It contains all the letters you ever wrote me. Sometimes I reread them and someday I will read them to my daughter. Thank you, Mom.”

Thank you, Eileen.

Ann E. Weeks

Reprinted by permission of Hanoch McCarty.

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