This was a project for my lit class and the purpose was to write something from the perspective of Elsie Hickam to her son Sonny Hickam, from the book October Sky. It got me thinking about the perspective of the parents that aren’t really acknowledged by the child until after they are old enough and by then it is to late to appreciate the hard work done for them. It is slightly edited to remove as many references to the book as possible, but there are a few necessary to the story, as well as, to make the letter more gender neutral.
I know that I have been hard on you these days but I want you to understand that it is because I love you and wish you have a far better life than mine. I will not apologize for my actions because they were necessary and you will see why as you get older. I do feel regretful for the pain you had to experience in order to learn the lessons I was trying to teach you. This may seem like an excuse or a platitude but I do love you and want you to have a far better life than me, though I do not regret my choices.
Most days it may seem as if I am switching between supporting you and acting like I am restricting you. But the truth is, I don’t know another way to show my belief in you and my desire to keep you safe. You are my child and I am so proud of you and your accomplishments. You will always have my support and love. Never doubt that you understand, never doubt that I love you.
I am aware of how hard it is for you and your father. He has no real experience in how to deal with someone as amazing as you. This is mostly his upbringing clouding his vision of the future. You once asked me why he hates you, but he doesn’t hate you. He just has trouble expressing his love. He often disagrees with me when I try and help him see how he should treat you. It is not entirely his fault, he has always been a little headstrong. When he can find a way to leave his job, he becomes a wonderful husband who tries to give me the world. Otherwise, he becomes so difficult and obsessed. It almost seems like he married another woman and I am a friend to casually talk to. You must promise me to never become like him. Promise me you will always remember your family first.
Often times I see you watching me as I finish my painting. You must be wondering why I do it, right? I do it to remind me of my life outside of this town. Before I married your father, I lived in Florida. There, my life was about me, not your father’s work. Everything I did was for myself without needing to think of his work. There I felt happiness. This does not mean I am not happy here, just that I had a different kind of joy that I can not experience here. It is similar to the joy you have when your rockets fly when your cake is made when you score that final winning goal. That is why I insist we leave this town, so I can have my life away from this lifestyle that holds my family captive.