Monday, April 23, 2012

Ken Neal Letter to Catherine Julia Neal
April 15, 2010

Dear Catherine Julia:

I am sitting here thinking about my brand new granddaughter, whose name is Catherine Julia Neal, I am told by her proud parents.
This is your first day home. My wife and your adoptive grandmother, Kara Gae, saw you when you were just hours old and she pronounced you a really beautiful baby. I am sure your dad already has taken a lot photographs proving that.

C.J. (I bet we call you that a lot), you most likely are my last grandchild since your father is my baby boy and at the age of 40 not likely to have any more children. My daughters, your aunts, are far older than that, even.
So you have five cousins on your dad’s side of the family and a couple more on your Grandpa and Grandma Young’ s side. All this minutae comes to mind as I think about you and the truly fabulous life you will lead. You probably will live well into the 22nd century and given the likely advances in medicine perhaps well into your second century of life.
Your Grandpa Neal was a reporter and editor all of his life and so I guess that is why I feel compelled to write you a letter tos ort of welcome you into my family and also to give you a little peak into old Grandpa’s world. Perhaps that is because the odds are you will not have any memory of me. But hey, I hope that will not be the case and so I am taking all the precautions I know to hang around awhile.
C.J., one of my grandfathers, Radford Andrew Neal, died when I was a baby and I have no independent memory of him. My own father, however, told me many stories and anecdotes about Radford, so I grew up “remembering” him. I hope your dad does that for me and that he doesn’t tell you the “whole truth” about
C.J., the only real accomplishments of my life were my three children, your aunts Kathy and Julie and your dad. A friend once told me that if you rear three successful kids you have contributed as much as any one can to this world. So I claim success.

I regret that I will not be around to see you grow into the beautiful, accomplished woman I know you will be. How do I know that? Well, for openers, as Gae said, you are already a beauty. Second, you have a wonderful mother who already has John Patrick on the road to accomplishment. I know she will do
that for you. And, I modestly admit that your Dad is quite a guy and he will do his part for you.
I guess the reason for this little letter is a longing not to be forgotten by those you love most. It is one of the wonderful things about being a parent or a grandparent. I loved you from the day I heard you were on the way. Sure enough, you turned out to be a beautiful baby. That’s kind of symbolic for life; first
you develop in your mother’s womb, then you develop a lot longer in the womb of life.
Patrick and I have done a little research on the Neal side of your family and I have gotten to know these folks through dusty records. I happened onto a pitiful old hand-written letter from a rather remote relative that I am sure your dad will show you some time. In it, this largely illiterate lady told of her father and
my grandfather. Somehow, this tenuous connection with them is precious to me. I have only one or two brief notes from my own father. I have often thought how nice it would have been to have
a letter from him to me.
So, I have written letters to all my kids and now to you. I hope that we can someday sit down and read this together and laugh at the remarks of an old man who believes the only immortality
is the people we leave behind.
Hey, I haven’t seen you in person yet, but thanks to the camera, your parents and technology, I can prove you are a gorgeous girl!

Grandpa Neal

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