That you should remember a small act of consideration all this time, and then 60 years later, take the trouble to remind a son of who his father was, and whence he came.... Your letter was a reminder that the small acts of gratitude are what hold us together, and maybe civilization itself.
Talk about casting your bread upon the waters. A kindness done never ceases to ripple out in time.
To open your letter was like getting a message from a faraway star that still shines, even stronger than ever. The dead grow stronger and stronger in our memories, more present, ever more vivid, ever more alive as we return again and again to the inexhaustible well that is the past.
I can't thank you enough, kind lady. And I would be remiss if I didn't quote your P.S., too -- direct, in toto, and unabridged:
"Remember Herbie K's?"
How could anyone who ever snuck over to the West End for lunch ever forget that classic hole-in-the-wall burger joint? Over on Pierre, wasn't it? It was just a mile, maybe less, from the store. And it's apparently still there, to cite the rave review of Herbie K's, Shreveport, La., that I just googled up:
"It's a long way from the Gulf, but they know what to do with shrimp: Pound thin, until the tails splay flat ... Fry hard. Serve open-faced, on a crusty roll, with a side of house-made tartar sauce." --"100 Southern Foods That You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die," Garden and Gun, November 2008.
I'm starting to get hungry myself. And not just for food. But for memories, rich and savory and renewed once more, this time through another's telling. Which somehow makes them even better. They glow again, validated.
Bless you, and I can't thank you enough for remembering my dad and his sidekick. You had them down.
Be well, dear lady.