Dunreith’s Letter to her mother Helen Kelly

Dunreith and her mother in late July, shortly before she wrote the letter.

Dunreith sent the following letter to Helen in late July.  She read the letter during Monday’s memorial service.


Dear Mom,

I am on the plane en route to Boston for the Digital Media Innovation Symposium.  The plane was very delayed but I will still have time for a quick visit with Ed before I need to be at Facing History. Wish I had time to head down the pike to see you while I am here.

How are you doing?  It must feel good to be back in your own home after the storm.  I must admit I felt very happy to be home although I definitely miss being with you and all our little routines.  I also ate much healthier when we were together-even the potato chips were key nutritionally and nostalgically.  I always identify potato chips with you from growing up and watching you devour and enjoy a six ounce bag of State Line chips after a busy week at school.  I associate many fond memories not surprisingly with food.  I loved stopping for soft-serve cones whether at the Yellow Brick Road (as we named it) across from Duggan, Bruno’s or McDonald’s.  Of course Sullivans’ Mountain View is in a different category altogether replete with its own set of stories.  You introduced us to so many exotic fruits-kumquats, pomegranates and persimmons, to name a few.  Along with fruit, we had the canned fish market cornered- mackeral, anchovies, sardines, herring, plus the usual Geisha tuna in H20.

Enough about food-it is making me very hungry!

Suffice it to say, you are responsible for my adventurous palate and likely Josh and Shaun’s as well. I was happy Aidan has finally joined us. You never made me feel inadequate that I carted real peanut butter and fluff and spaghetti with me when he and I went to other people’s homes for dinner but categorized it as further evidence of my nurturing nature. I told Aidan so many stories of our standard dinners growing up complete with salad, vegetables, bread, and various “main courses’ like your mac n cheese with crumbled potato chip crust that he often asked why I couldn’t manage to make a real meal while I was working full time and you found a way to do it. I still don’t know your secret!

You and Dad both modeled the importance and pleasure to be found in reading, whether it be newspapers, magazines or books. I well remember the Christian Science Moniter, Boston Globe and New York Times regularly joining the Springfield Daily News in our kitchen. It is a gift that truly keeps on giving and it pleases me to see Aidan once again immersing himself in books.  He also has the modern addition of enjoying Ted talks on the Internet and all kinds of articles and reviews online.  I hope you will feel inspired to pick up a book again as your fatigue lessens.  We can choose a title to both read.  Let me think about some possibilities. What is your next library book group read?

I also think of how filled with music our home was in my childhood-Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass-Joan Baez-The Mamas & The Poppas, and, of course, Shaun especially was hooked on the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.  I love that you have continued that tradition throughout your life and have an eclectic, open range of music randomly playing. I never know whether I will hear Tom Waits, Johnny Cash or the Phantom of the Opera playing when I walk in 11 Ridgewood.

It is almost time to land so I will begin to close this installment. There are so many more wonderful memories to recall and to still create! I spent most of the flight reading Roxana Saberi’s book, Between Two Worlds: My Life and Captivity in Iran.  She will speak for us in Chicago in October.  I will send you a copy of her book.

I will be talking to you before you receive this, but it gives me deep joy to spend this time thinking about you as I write and knowing this letter will be waiting for you on one of your daily walks to the mailbox.

I love and miss you, Mom!



4 responses to “Dunreith’s Letter to her mother Helen Kelly

  1. Herb Albert & the Tijuana Brass, “This Guys In Love With You,” permeated the Crane home as well. When brother Stephen mimics the song with full trumpet sounds via his vocal cords, we are all brought back to the pork chops and fluffernutters fought for by the gang of nine.

    It is said that when both our parents die, we are suddenly faced with not only the heavy loss, but the recognition that we are now the wise heads of the family. How frightening is that, eh? Yet, our parents grappled with that chapter as well, trembling as we do for sure, and how fortunate we are that certain songs and food can bring back their great love and care for us, their kids, as we gather up the courage to love and guide our little, big ones.

    Jeff, please send our warm condolences to Dunreith.


  2. Sandra Hollingsworth

    Hi Dunreith, Jeff, & Aiden,
    I’ve been on Jury Duty for the pass 2 weeks and I’m finally catching up on my emails and readings of your blog Jeff. I’ve a heavy and a joyful heart @ the passing of Helen, Dunreith’s mom. In Dunreith’s letter she talked about the different foods @ home while growing up. My mom made the best Mac & Cheese from scratch in this old round pot that my brothers & I knew it was for mom’s mac & cheese only. Plus, my mom would sing while she cooks. We won’t let mom cook now. We do it for her.
    What wonderful memories you have. It’s such a blessing to share them with Aiden and close friends. Continue to share them with us

    I’ll see you upon your return to your “second” home
    We love you,
    Sandra, Ja’Net, Giovonni, & Jentel (The Pookies) 🙂

    • jeffkellylowenstein3

      Thanks so much, Sandra, for your beautiful words. They bring us comfort during a difficult time.

      I look forward to seeing you, too. Please know that the love you describe is mutual.


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