I vividly remember our first fight in the fall of 1967. We were leaving Tyler Dining Hall. The fight started when you stated the obvious; “It’s your attitude – Eddie!” I laughed and shared with the young married resident advisors of Mitchell Hall approaching on the sidewalk that it was ‘my attitude.’ They joined me in my mirth.
What I did was wrong in so many ways. I had heard ‘your attitude’ from Mrs. Stripe (Spanish teacher), Bruce Smith (basketball coach), Denny Stoltz (football coach), my mother, and now I was hearing it from the person that would become the most important person in my life. With so many important people in my life in agreement, I realized that my attitude did need to improve.
At 20, I had not mastered the skill of straight talk. I had not (1) sensed (seen the hives on your neck) , (2) I had not identified how I felt (a 20 year old defensive end in 1967 did not have feelings), (3) I thought absurdly that everything I did was from my great intellect, (4) I wanted to be close to you and (5) I had brought others into what you had privately said. My action had not matched my wishes, and you had been humiliated in public by the boy you loved.
After 49 years of wanting to be close to you, I am still struggling with the skills that make up straight talk. I do a lot better with feelings (yes, I do have them and now can name them occasionally), I sometimes still have a problem identifying what I intend or want to achieve (which is to be a better man and to be closer to you), and I still may act like an idiot. Have patience; our work is not yet done. I am still a work in progress.
This letter is a very belated and public repair attempt. And, in the present, I am very sorry that I got so pissed off at you Thursday when the roofers came just as we sat down to a supper of your wonderful eggplant pizza.
Love you, Doll,