Forgotten Art: Norman – Mel 5

A reply to: A letter from Mel


Dear Mel,

I’m glad the package arrived safely, and even more glad that Zee loved the cat. You know, that is also Ira’s favorite collectible.


I’m happy, too, that you found one of the ducks that you liked. I admit: Those ducks are pretty cute. We’ve got them all over the house!

Gari sounds like an interesting child. I’ve noticed through getting to know my step-daughter Aari and my niece Jena that not all kids think alike. Aari definitely has an inquisitive approach to life.

Lately, she’s become obsessed with being a ninja. She keeps asking me ninja questions. For example, “What do ninjas eat for supper?” “Do ninjas need long division?” And my favorite, “Why do ninjas wear masks? Is it because they’re afraid their noses will get cold when they go out at night?”


I’m glad you’re still painting. We’ve always got easels set up with works in progress, it seems, what with me and Ira both being painters.

I’m glad you’re meeting neighbors, too, especially the kids, and finding ways to sign with them. Ira’s been teaching me that communication can happen with more than words.

You asked how life’s been going with me. Well, it’s been busy and stressful, if I’m perfectly honest. That’s why it’s taken me so long to write back. Sorry about that.

I think I mentioned that we’re trying something new with the business. It’s been one complication after another. I think we’ve finally got everything back on track. We’re behind schedule, but we’ll come out all right. At least, that’s what I tell myself.


I’m also becoming Mr. Dad, it seems. Actually, Mr. Primary Care-giver. That’s Aari’s term for what I am. Her mom is her mom, and I’m the PCG.

Maybe you can help me with one of the challenges of being the PCG. Aari asks tough questions, and I don’t always know how to answer them.

In addition to asking about ninjas, which at least I can bluff my way to answer, she asks about life.

“I think I figured out the solution!” she said the other day. “If we got poverty and hunger and not enough water because there’s too many people on the planet, then why don’t people just stop having babies? That’ll solve it, won’t it?”


I did not know how to answer that one. What would you say?

She also asks about why we have to have foods like cereal and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Why can’t we have them for supper?

I said, “Because those foods taste good in the morning.”

She said that was a dumb answer. I think she’s right. I honestly can’t think of a better answer, can you?


Her mom seems to score better at the answer game. Before bed the other day, Aari asked why she had to go to sleep at eight.

“But I want to stay up until midnight!” she protested. “For ninja training! How will I ever be a good ninja if I don’t have midnight experience?”

“It’s a time-honored tradition!” Ira answered. “Ninjas always stay up to the hour that’s one less than their age! So. You’re nine now. That means you go to bed at eight. When you’re ten, you go to bed at nine.”


“That stinks,” Aari said. “That means I won’t get to stay up to midnight until I’m thirteen!”

“Don’t worry,” replied Ira. “Minimum age for ninjas is fifteen, so you’ll have two years of midnight practice under your belt by the time you’re official!”


Even if I can’t get the answers right, there are some things that Aari says I do OK at. Like jumping, for example. She likes it when I say, “You say jump, and I say how high.”

Then she says, “As high as me!”

I’m not there yet, but I’m getting there! Maybe with a little more practice.


I’ve got to tell you, Mel, even with life being so busy, there are still moments. Ira makes sure of that.

You ever have moments where time stops, and silence sweeps you up, and, just for the space between a breath, life feels very, very sweet?

Ira brings moments like that into my life.


I never had those kinds of moments before I met her.


Well, I’m wishing you and your boys all kinds of happiness. I hope it doesn’t take me so long before I write the next letter.

When you write back, please let me know all that’s going on with you and yours. What kind of questions do your boys ask, and what do you answer back?

I don’t know why it’s so hard to end this letter. I somehow don’t want to say good-bye.

Take care, Mel. Is it weird to miss you when we’ve never even met?


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