For many years my father used to write me a letter once a month, every month. Every letter was a slight variation of the same letter, over and over. They were almost always a page-and-a-third-long, typed. And they’d always start out:
So how are things in Berkeley?” (or if I happened to be living in another town, he’d substitute the name of that town)
Then he’d follow that with:
“Nothing much new to report here.”
Then he’d follow that by mentioning that he had recently visited with my brothers, or his grandchildren, or some other relative, invariably mentioning that they were “doing fine.”
Then he might mention some church he had recently preached at (he was semi-retired but still did guest-preaching). Or he might mention somebody from his past who he had recently run into, who I would vaguely remember.
Then he might mention some minor health problem he was dealing with. Followed by a semi-humorous quip about how he was “planning to live to be a 100” (often referring to himself in the third-person as “good old Pop” or “dear old Dad”).
Then he’d usually end his letter with:
“Hope all is well with you. Much love,
Every now and then I’d write him back. And the next month, I’d get a version of his same old letter in return. As if he hadn’t even read my letter. It was almost as if he just xeroxed off a copy of the same old “Dear Pete” letter, month after month. So it didn’t encourage me to write him back.
All in all, in spite of his fair share of faults and shortcomings, he was an OK guy. I could have done worse. Much worse. I still have all of his letters stashed in my storage locker somewhere. Good old Pop.