While I still don't have perfect clarity about where the blog goes now, it seems like letters from Whit to me, and perhaps a few to him, might be good. I want to start with the last one I received from Whit, dated March 21, 2009. Although he had had no phone or visiting privileges for over a year - which is not even normal for solitary confinement, which usually allows visits 'through the glass' and monthly phone calls, he was able now and then to sweet talk a CO into letting him call me. He'd obviously written this just after the last call. There is nothing unusual about this letter. References to the exchange rate reflect his awareness that it affects my income. "Grandpa" is his maternal grandfather, whom he was close with and who manages my IRA - beautifully, under the circumstances. Other comments in brackets will always be mine.
What's crackin'? Another great call today. Hopefully you enjoyed it at least half as much as I did. What's kind of weird is the fact that in situations like that when there are a hundred different things to talk about, conversation is sometimes the toughest because I never know what is important enough to justify spending one of those fifteen precious minutes talking about. You sounded good. Glad you were able to get out in the yard today (or a few days ago, by the time this arrives.) I know it's looking like a fantastic day out this way.
Sounded like things are running pretty smoothly back home, which is really great to know. Actually, without attempting to make myself sound self-pitying or whatever, it seems almost inconceivable to me to live a life where for weeks and often months no major dramas occur either to me or at least within my vicinity. Yet another thing I'm looking forward to when coming home.
Hey! I noticed the U.S. dollar has been taking a major pounding lately! Yay! I know on Thursday, the last rate I've seen, it was back to well over $1.30 versus the Euro. Seems kind of unusual when our stock markets are strengthening. Why is that? Does it have to do with all the new money the Fed. Reserve is pumping into the country? This is another reason why I'm looking forward so much to doing an economics course or two from O.U. Even if I don't do exceptionally well with the material, I should at least have a decent understanding of it which should mean the things I read in the money section of the newspaper take on a whole new meaning. Well, if not NEW than at least a greater meaning.
Thanks for explaining the situation with your investments/IRA a little more. You mentioned that you've lost 1/3 to 1/2 of the value compared to 2 years ago. Can you elaborate on that a little more? For a simple example, let's say your IRA was worthy $10,000 two years ago and then... oh, reading that passage again I understand now so no need to elaborate. Wow, that sucks. Such a considerable loss seems astounding when I consider the fact that Grandpa was managing your portfolio throughout this entire time. That means that either he made some seriously bad decisions or I guess it means that a lot of other people came out a lot worse than you. What a depressing topic, though. Moving on...
I really like your idea of converting your backyard into a landscaped garden. Yeah, it's not a whole lot of space but then again, I learned from our tomato growing adventures that sometimes it only takes a few plants to produce quite a bit of food at certain times. Those tomatoes were definitely delicious, although even with oregano, six or seven a day got to be a little much. Well, whenever your garden plan happens to come to fruition, I do have one request - sugar snap peas, and lots of them.
Great pictures!! Of downtown and Hyde Park Square. I'd forgotten that the fountains wouldn't have actually been turned on, though. Oh well, it was still a refreshing sight. I've got two of them taped up to The Wall next to my bunk.
[Whit had recently asked me to take and send photographs of two locations in Cincinnati that had special meaning for him.]
It's nice that you went to Esme's memorial. Were there very many people there who didn't actually know Tom, Lisa or Esme and were just there to show support? Reading about the drawings she'd done as a kid hanging from the walls at the memorial at first made me consider how, despite what difficulties we had (and still have, sometimes), things could still be worse. But then I realized the condition Esme's parents must be in having endured the worst-case scenario. The way you described your state during the service was vivid. I'm trying to find a way to empathize but it seems impossible. You've endured an incredible amount during your life and now this tragedy which, even at its distance, is much too close for comfort. I wish I could offer some advice or say something hopeful. You're the Dad, though - that's your job :-). You're in my mind all the time, whatever that's worth. Hopefully you're able to keep in mind how much good you've done in your life and how much success you've had. Without even mentioning the obvious things like a Ph.D., a great house with friends who care a lot about you, and just generally being a man someone should strive to be, there's also me. The fact that I've been in quite a bit of trouble throughout my life is a reflection of my failures as a son. But the fact that a kid like me who dropped out after 9 years of school can be at least moderately intelligent and open-minded as I am is a concrete example of your success as a father. I've been incredibly lucky to have the father I do.
Alright, I'm going to let you go now. Hopefully this finds you in much better spirits than you were in when you wrote this letter of the 12th. Thank you for being so open with me, though. I miss you and love you.