Last week, my father gave me a small shoebox of letters and mementos belonging to my brother Scott. Scott passed away unexpectedly three years ago at the age of 50. He was nine years older than me, and as a child I always admired him.
My father left it to me to curate this box. I let it sit for awhile, not sure what would be in it. I lifted the lid this morning, braced by my coffee and assisted by my ever-curious cat. No demons jumped out. I found I didn't even cry, at least until writing this post.
Nearly everything in the box is from 1978-1980. It contains cards Scott received for his high school graduation in 1979. There are many letters he received from family and friends during his Air Force basic training in late 1980.
The graduation cards include little notes from family long gone. I will treasure those. The letters he received during basic training include several, of course, from our mother. She was a good reporter of what was going on at the time. Many of the events she mentioned I remember well, though I was only 10. Her voice comes through just as it does today, the same mannerisms and turns of phrase from half a lifetime ago.
Also included are several letters from another of our brothers. He was also in the Air Force, stationed in Florida. I recall him being a prolific letter writer, though I sadly don't think I kept the ones he wrote to me. His sardonic humor rings through, also little changed from when he was 20.
A few items that I want to keep and preserve include a playbill and script from the play M*A*S*H that Scott was in during high school. This is the first play I can recall attending and I was so excited when I saw my big brother on the stage.
The box also contained a series of cartoons my brother drew. He had a few characters back then, but these are Granny Grunt, and how she accidentally got sent to the moon. I plan to have these copied and bound with his other cartoons I have to share with my family.
So this little gift from my father will be added to my family treasures. Scott has three little granddaughters he never got to meet. I would like someday to tell them some good stories about their grandpa and what fun we had as kids.
Vonda and Scott Hilyard
at our family home around 1978