Letters from Oregon

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Chapter I.X

In the coming years, I received a myriad of letters from Tim, who had very suddenly decided he wanted to be a bigger part of my life. I suspect that now that I was on the opposite coast of the United States, he no longer felt like a connection could happen at any moment — and he had to make up the natural closeness of sharing a timezone by communicating more often. Or maybe something else happened. For all I know, he woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, fearing that he was losing his firstborn, a dreamy afterimage of my limp, dead body flashing before his half-awake eyes. Maybe he wrote his first letter in a fever, heaving and perspirating, trying to fill the large Faeowynn-shaped hole in his heart that he had been trying to ignore for years.

But I doubt it.

Whatever it was, it made me bitter for a good many reasons. Two of which were admittedly terribly unfair to Tim; when you hear stories like that of Blind, you can't help but feel like someone is pulling your leg. It also becomes suspicious, by the fifth, sixth, or seventh time that someone tells you that they really did write you but the letter got lost in the mail. Or, that they really did send you a picture proving their previous tall tale but it must have gotten misplaced because it wasn't there when the letter arrived.

It is uncomfortably strange to know, and in some ways respect, those same people that made communication so difficult between my dad and I. But that is neither here nor there. There are more than those reasons why my relationship with Tim became so strained. I have included here pictures not of every letter I received, but a collection of those that I feel best illustrate the mood of the time.

* * * * *



I heard all about your big debate. I'm sorry I couldn't make it. You know how your old man is; when I start something I just can't stop! I got caught up with work and expanding the place. It's gotten pretty big since the last time you saw it! So, speaking of starting things and not stopping, I have decided I am going to write you letters! Alice said it would be a great way to keep in contact, and I couldn't agree more.

We finally saved enough to build a bigger holding area for us to keep critters so nobody is cramped anymore and they all have some wiggle room. I finally ditched the old typewriter and got myself one of those computers you and Gary have been going off about. I can't figure out how to use it, but I'll figure it out. Always do.

I hope everything goes well for you in New York, but it's a shame you didn't come up here for school. Either way, I love you, little caterpillar! I hope to see you for Christmas, and have a spoooky Halloween!

Your Father,

* * * * *



I hate to admit that I did, in fact, forget what you told me again. I'm very sorry, and I hope your therapy is going well. I also am very sorry to not have answered sooner and that I wasn't able to go over for Christmas (I am sure Audrey's Christmas tree was as wonderful as it always is). It's never a quiet day here in Boring, and the Shelter needs me!

We found a cat that we have a hard time remembering recently. I wish I could tell you it's name, but it escapes me at the moment. I think he's a tabby, but I remember he's very big and hairy so he might be a Maine Coone! Either way, I feel bad for the critter. Helps that we've written him down, but sometimes we forget how he's filed, too! A bothering little bugger, but we love him — when we know about him. Ha ha!

Anyway, I'm glad to hear things were good for you since last we spoke. I don't know if you've called or not because I've been sleeping at the Shelter some nights and that answering machine's got recordings from last year. Send your phone number in your next letter and I'll give you a ring when I can.

Love you, son!

Your father,

P.S. I keep calling it the Shelter, hard habit to break! Did I tell you we upgraded to be Wilson's Wildlife Solutions? We're ending up doing a lot more than just being a wildlife shelter, so we decided to start acting like it. We're actually going to get snow plows for next winter to help out around the community! It's all very exciting!!!

P.P.S. Happy 20th Birthday! So close to the big two-one, eh? Wink!

* * * * *


Hey caterpillar!

Those snow plows came a little late, didn't they? I think we misjudged just how many funds we had. But guess what! Donations are going up, and we weren't just able to get snow plows… we pave the roads now! No, I'm not joking!

I still catch myself calling it the Shelter, but we really are becoming more like our name. We are making Solutions! I don't really know how it fits in with our being a wildlife non-profit, but it just seemed like a nice thing to do. Do you know how terribly the roads are paved up here? Well, you never will, because when you visit, they'll be spick and span! Isn't that exciting? Everyone has been excited about it. I think some people are worried about its legality? But no one has stopped us yet, and I don't think anyone will! Who wants to take away free help?

Paving the roads wearing our WWS logos loud and clear has also been pulling in a good deal of volunteers. Ever expanding! It's like the American Dream but minus all the wealth! It feels cleaner this way. Not that I would refuse some spending money — we're really a lot tighter on funds then we look and your old man has never been terribly good with numbers, ha ha! Stuff like that makes me really grateful for the people I have around me.

But enough about me, and speaking of money and numbers, that internship sounds wonderful! Twenty dollars an hour??? That's amazing!!! I didn't know internships could pay that much? Actually, I'm not sure your old man knows exactly what an internship is, I don't think I ever had one! You're growing to be a really, very smart young person out in the world.

Your father,

P.S. Now that we're halfway through the year, are you anxious of the big 2K? I'm nervous!

* * * * *


Happy late birthday, kiddo!

I haven't been ducking your calls, I've just been busy! Wrangling all sorts of critters. I don't know what's up with this place, but we've really seen it all here. Wild ostriches that sing, hippos that fly, and those Japanese raccoons, except this one turned to stone whenever we tried poking it. Actually, I think we heard of that one long before we found it!

There are so many critters here, Feae, you'll love it! You should come visit me and your stepmother sometime. Your brothers miss you, and I miss you too. I wish I could go to you, my darling, but it wouldn't be Wilson's Wildlife Shelter without Wilson, and Alice Wilson is uncompromising in running the library! Not to mention I really can't take time off.

Wishing you many more birthdays,

P.S. We still don't know what happened to my last letter, but you can ask either of your brothers or my own dear Alice and they'll all tell you I had something sent before your birthday proper. It must have gotten lost in the mail. Oh well! Happy new millennium, and here is to another 22 years!

* * * * *


My caterpillar,

I am beginning to think I live in a rainforest. The variety of critters around these parts is astounding! It breaks my heart just how many of them need a home, but it just as quickly mends when I get to be the person to bring them in. Reading back over that sentence, is it possible your way with words has rubbed off on me? I don't know if I have ever told you just how fun your letters are to read. You really have a way with words! Reminds me a lot of your mom, whose poems I still read from time to time. Does she still write them? Actually, I think I feel inspired to reconnect with her. I will write her a letter after I write yours. How does that sound? I think that sounds good.

Did I tell you that we found a six-legged lizard? Smelled really strong, too! Stank to high heaven! But we didn't know exactly what was wrong with it, so it died. It must have been sick, but we couldn't figure out what from. When we opened it up it looked solid through and through, like it didn't have organs at all! How was it alive in the first place?

But our little Shelter is so busy that I can hardly stop to wonder about these things!!! Isn't it wonderful? We're helping so much! I can't count how many magical little guys we've nursed back to health and released into the woods. Some things that should fly, walk, and some things that should walk, fly. I have included a tiny collection of pictures of some of my favorites. I hope you have even a fraction as much joy looking through them as I have had being with them!


No pictures were included.

* * * * *


Dear Fae,

I have come to tell you that we have a website. I tried writing out the url before but I hated it so much that I would rather tell you to look us up on Google. I admit, I wasn't excited about having a website. Myself and Nandini and Albert have had a lot of conversations about how much people rely on technology these days and how much it bothers us and I got it in my head that it wasn't worth it — I didn't want to have any part with it. But some people have really been pushing for it — a list of names including Gary (I am sure you saw that one coming), Hagi (have I told you about her? She's wonderful!), and, what's this, my own son! Robin! Oh, I felt so betrayed!

I admit that I walked myself into a corner, though. The New Year's Resolution for the Shelter this year was to become more closely integrated with the public. Get some visibility, network! And what does more networking than, well, networks? Oops! I really didn't think that one through.

Gary says he's got it all covered, and he swears it will make us more money than it takes to maintain. But I'm weary. I hope it works out as well as he says it will. What do you think?

Speaking of you, that show sounds wonderful! Your friend must have thought really highly of you to take you out to something like that. Loud music, big crowds. Sounds expensive — maybe they are into you? Wink wink! You would know better than me, but I think that sounds like a crush.


P.S. It occurs to me now that I don't know if you "swing that way". Is that a rude thing to say? Alice isn't being helpful. Please to tell me which way you swing — it would aid me in teasing you!

* * * * *


Dear F,

I come with crazy news! The website had already increased our funds by a lot, but it was never more than the donations we got from the immediate community. But guess what? We just got a ridiculous anonymous donor! I don't expect you to believe the number if I told you in this letter — while I hope (and believe!) that our trust is strong, I know common sense can be trusted over the word of your old, out-of-style dad sometimes, so I have included a picture of me holding up the record that proves it and smiling, as Alice put it, "like the doofus you are."

I'm excited to discover where all this money is going to go!!! It more than covers what we're already doing, so I imagine new things are to come??? Write back telling me if you're as excited as I am, I would love to update you on every teensy, eensy development!!!

Exploding with excitement,

The picture has been lost to time, but for those curious, it was $600,000. Compared to later funds, this was actually rather modest. Well, compared to some later funds, this was also rather extravagant. It fluctuated.

* * * * *


Dear F,

I am really glad I was able to visit you, I hope to find a Thai restaurant just as wonderful as that one we went to in New York. I am sorry that I could not stay longer. The Shelter almost fell apart without me, ha ha! I've never been good at addressing hard topics, but Alice was mad at me and that helped, so I'm sorry you don't believe me about our animals, and I want to say that I understand. Please think of me as crazy instead of a liar, if you must. I don't want you think I am lying to you. But I won't bring it up again, I promise.

Also, I found these chocolates for Valentine's for Alice, and she didn't eat the white chocolate ones, and I know how much you like white chocolate!!! So I hope you will accept the leftovers and box just for you. Cheers, kiddo!


As a brief aside, I do love white chocolate, and the chocolates he sent me were the best I have ever had. I wonder why it took him so many months to send them, if the Valentine's Day story is to be believed. In any case, whoever first finds those chocolates again has found the key to my heart — or at least to my stomach.

* * * * *


Dear F,

Is it as cold where you are as it is here? Brrrr! Freezing all the time! I sometimes find myself wishing that you could join us at the fireside here in Oregon. Do you have any plans to visiting? I can't leave the Shelter to go south for Christmas with Audrey, but I would love to have you up here — I have so many trails I could show you! Ones I have found and ones I have made myself. Though I find I have less and less time for that these days, I am sure I can make time for you, ha ha! Unfortunately, sick animals don't miraculously heal around the holidays. Well, except one.

It astounded me when I looked at my calendar and realized how long it had been since I saw you. Only a year? It has felt like forever! I want to be able to give you a big hug. For now, I'll have to tell Audrey to give you extra ones for me.

Have you read her newest poem by the way? It's amazing! It made me cry and it will make you cry too. Yes, even you, the tearless baby. I swear it! It's about a dog frolicking in the snow at a park, but it feels like a lot more. I don't know, I've never really understood how to read into things. Tried in high school and didn't succeed, ha ha!

But seriously, ask her about it. With how well you write, I have to wonder, do you make poems? If you do, please send me them! I want to share my talented progeny's work with everyone.

See? You rub off on me! I know the word "progeny"!


* * * * *


Dear F,

As you know, Audrey visited recently, and I have included some printed photos of our hikes together. We're old fashioned and still like printed pictures, I hope you agree! I'm also very happy that Alice and Audrey seemed to get along. Is it weird that I worried? But also, you may notice that this letter is a little early, unlike when letters get misplaced — hasn't happened very much recently, thank goodness! Well, there is a good reason for that.

You and I both know that Auds likes to hold her tongue, and I hope you don't think that I'm saying something I shouldn't, but I think she's really sick. I don't think she's going to tell you. But when we hiked, she was struggling about as much as me! Which is new.

I know you and her are very close, and I know you haven't seen each other recently. She told me so, she's eager to see you! Please don't think I am rude for suggesting, but I think you should see her soon. If you have time. Which you probably don't! Congratulations on the new job! I don't know what a "Controller" is, but Alice helped me look it up and it sounds very important!!! Stepping stone to CFO? If that is anything like a CEO, that's really big!!!


* * * * *


Dear F <3 :D,

Welcome to my first ever email! A young volunteer named Jackie showed me the ropes, and emoticons! :) :) :) I love <3 them, I feel like a kid again discovering new things. They're so cute! :D :) and I can put noses on them :-) I like this one the most.

I write in the form of an email because I need you to know that I have very suddenly decided to come down for a visit. Audrey will get a very similar email. Trust me that I understand the importance of mother-child bonding time, and will get out of your hair very quickly, but I need to show my support however I can. :-(

On the bright side, with you living on the west coast, we can visit more often!

See you soon,
Tim <3

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