Old ways, new ways

9 May




Old ways, new ways

By L. Stewart Marsden

Dear Kiddo,

I’m sorry I haven’t been in touch, but since the big move to Honey Glades, I’m still unpacking and arranging my new life.

And, I hate my cell phone. The old landline was just fine. I don’t trust these new electronic gizmos. Same with the computer. The government is listening in, in case you haven’t heard.

So, don’t text me and don’t send me email. I don’t need you-know-who looking into my personal stuff.

Snail mail might be slow, but it gets to you all the same. By the way, if it looks like my letter has been opened up and resealed, would you for god’s sake let me know? Thanks.

And by the way, my old television reception is fine. A maintenance guy with the Glades came by and brought some box, which he hooked into the back of the set. I get ABC, NBC, CBS and the public stations, of which I think there are more than I could use. Cable is such a waste! Why in god’s name do you need 400 stations?

Hey, there’s also a sex channel I get! And for free! Not that I have any interest any more. You probably don’t want to hear about that, right? Too much information. TMI. See? I’m not so terribly behind.

Anyway, in my book, a handwritten letter is the best. When I was working, I always sent a handwritten note to whatever customer I had just met with. That very same day. I carried a box with Thank You! cards and pre-stamped envelopes. Jotted something simple and slipped it into the first mailbox I could find. Sometimes, right in the letter slot of the business I was visiting.

They all would mention that.

I got your card, they would say, and smile.

Remember that, Kiddo. The new ways aren’t always the best ways.

I haven’t got out to play golf yet. I don’t really know anybody, and these old geezers seem to have regular golf buddies. I think you put your name onto a waiting list at the pro shop and whenever someone kicks the bucket, they call the top person to fill the spot.

Unless you happen to sign up for a tournament and score well. Like that’s going to happen for me.

It’s like when I lived in Manhattan. God, you had to look up the obits in The Village Voice if you needed a place to live. Rent controlled is rent controlled. You do what you have to.

It’ll probably be a little time before I actually get to play. In the meantime, the driving range is fine.

By the way, I appreciate the Big Bertha driver you bought me, but the goddam club head is so big I can’t lift it! I’m going to use my old reliable driver. Accuracy is more important than length. That’s what she said!

The balls are appreciated, though. A man my age appreciates good balls! : )

So the reason I’m writing today is that when I went out on my porch this morning, I discovered a wonderful thing.

Remember the little Christmas tree your kids decorated for me last year? The one they said was a memorial to Mother?

As you know, it died. And, as you know, I insisted we take it in the move.

Oh, no — you said. It’s dead weight and what am I going to do with it?

Remember what I said?

Something will come up, and I’ll be able to use it. That’s what I said.

Remember that?

So I put it out on the porch next to the railing. It happens that I put it in the vicinity of the bird feeder you bought me. The one you filled with sunflower seeds.

That sticky, brittle dead tree looked so awful I finally pulled it out of the container and threw it away, thinking I might put some herb seeds in leftover mulch in the pot at some point.

Guess what?

This morning, as I was sweeping all of the sunflower debris that the birds leave (along with the bird poop, I might add), I looked down in the pot and what do you think I saw?

Sprouts coming out of the dirt!

Sunflower sprouts!

So, that same pot — your mother’s pot, as far as I’m concerned — the one where the tree died — has given life to something new.

Talk about your karma!

I don’t know why I’m so excited about it, I just am! I actually took a picture of it with my camera, and as soon as Walmart develops the roll, will send you a copy. I’m not even going to wait to finish the roll. There might also be a picture or two of your mother. I’ll send those, too.

And, while I’m at Walmart, I’m going to that little pet store nearby and get me a pet. I’ve been thinking about what you said — older people living longer because they have a pet.

But I don’t want a dog or a cat. Too much looking after for me!

I think I’ll invest in a nice fish.

Have a wonderful day, Kiddo. And please don’t forget me.


PS: There’s a woman at the dining room who has been making eyes at me. Imagine that! Also, did you know there’s not a cart trail to Denny’s? What’s with that?


I think this is at the beginning of summer last year, just before she took a turn for the worst. God, I miss her.

I think this is at the beginning of summer last year, just before she took a turn for the worst. God, I miss her.

I know it would be mean to say "I told you so." But, I told you so! Love, Dad

I know it would be mean to say “I told you so.”
But, I told you so!
Love, Dad

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden, 9 May, 2014


7 Responses to “Old ways, new ways”

  1. jaredbernard May 9, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

    Nice letter, Skip! I like the angle, showing the transition between retirement and older age. The man yearns for the simplicity of the past, but doesn’t fit in with the “geezers” at the golf course. He can use the vernacular of TMI and emoticons, but he doesn’t trust new technology, which he regards as superfluous (correctly, in my opinion). As he watches his world from his porch, lamenting the changing world around him, he looks for meaning: the rebirth of plants in a pot, the rebirth of love. Even the title of the letter is like a phoenix being reincarnated. “Old Ways, New Ways” is a great story of renewal.


    • skipmars May 9, 2014 at 12:08 pm #

      Now, THAT is a comment! Are you a teacher by trade? Would you like to read my rough draft of a play based on Boule de Suif, a short-story by Guy de Maupassant?


      • skipmars May 9, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

        And, thank you for your very kind comment.


      • jaredbernard May 9, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

        Sure! You can send it to jared.bernard [at] hotmail.com. No, I’m not a teacher, but thanks for regarding me as analytical.


  2. RoSy May 10, 2014 at 9:34 am #

    Lots of love in this piece.
    The letter format gives the post a nostalgic feel.


    • skipmars May 10, 2014 at 9:45 am #

      Thank you! I guess I should update it to text talk and emoticons. LOL!


  3. Sandi August 13, 2016 at 8:21 pm #

    This…Was so sweet and kind and brought tears of happiness for him. And the sunflowers growing in wife’s pot….made me think of my mom.
    Laughed and cried at the same time. Very emotional for me. Thank you.


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