Mendel Letters 15: Remember to Breathe

Hard copies of these typed letters were discovered in an old camp trunk in the basement storage facility of one of the few buildings that remain standing in this Brooklyn neighborhood. The building is quite decrepit and is scheduled for demolition. The letters were found in November 2048 by a teenager who believes they were written by his great-grandfather. The letters are addressed to Mendel, the letter writer’s father, who appears to have been dead for at least six years when his son, whose name we are unsure of, started to write him. The son appears very agitated in some of the letters. With permission from the family, we are publishing them on the date they were written, only 28 years later.

January 23, 2021

Dear Mendel,

Sometimes we forget about breathing because it is something we do automatically. I was thinking about that this week. For a long time, you battled against congestive heart failure and acute pulmonary edema, the build-up of fluid in your lungs. You were in the hospital a half a dozen times to have fluid removed from your lungs with a needle and you always bounced back, except for the last time when you were ninety-four. You were in Florida and I was in New York, so we only shared your hospital adventures on the phone and you always reminded me not to take breathing for granted.

This week a large part of the country, including me, breathed a big sigh of relief when Joe Biden was finally inaugurated as President and Donald Trump left the White House. I was not a big Biden fan, over the years I had many disagreements with his positions and I am sure I will have many in the future, but seeing his decency and the country’s return to a semblance of normalcy after Trump’s outrageousness, I felt I was beginning to breathe again after holding my breath for weeks, months, maybe even years.

The other day Joe met with scientists to discuss how to battle the Coronavirus epidemic. The President met with scientists! Another reason to breathe. We all need to remember to breathe.

Your Son