Intersections – My acceptance speech
By Nicki Salcedo
I was rummaging through my desk on Monday when I came across a legal pad filled with my dad’s handwriting. Each page contained a draft thank you letter to one of his friends.
As you know my surgery was successful, and I am on the road to recovery … The stitches were removed on Thursday … Thank you for the fruit basket … Thanks for the beautiful plant you sent to cheer me up … Thank you for the prayers, cards, and support.
The handwriting brought my dad back to me for a moment. He was a writer of birthday and Christmas and thank you cards. I’m not. He took time to write thank you notes, not once, but twice. The second time he would write the note in a nice card or on good paper.
I also write longhand, but sometimes it is days or weeks before I put a pen to actual paper. I wonder if I would recognize my own scrawl as easily as I know my father’s.
I write one-draft thank you notes. I lack my father’s courtesy. If I make a mistake, I scratch it out even if I am writing inside the nice card or on the good paper. My dad was thoughtful. He enjoyed corresponding with people. He made time to write and say thank you.
I did not watch The Academy Awards this weekend. I understand that Julianne Moore did not thank Billy Zane when she won. That’s all right. I spent Oscar night doing what I always do on Oscar night: I draft my Oscar acceptance speech even though I have no chance of ever winning the award.
I’d like to thank my third grade teacher, Mrs. Lambeth, for calling on me when I raised my hand. Thank you to the stranger who gave me five dollars in cash when the credit card machine was broken at the gas station, and I was completely out of gas. Thank you to all my friends who still accept me when I send my thank you cards two years too late.
There are reasons why I should stay away from microphones. I’m terrible at saying “thank you.” I’d forget to thank my fifth grade math teacher, my friends who ran the zombie 5K with me, and the people who sent flowers when my dad passed away.
“You didn’t know me before my mother died,” one friend said to me as she brought us three dozen bagels. Mourning food. “I used to be so happy.”
She and I ran the zombie race together the year before. She couldn’t be any more fun. I’m always thankful for zombies and friends who like zombies. But I would probably forget to thank her in my acceptance speech. And I still owe her a thank you card for the bagels.
My Oscar speech is never the same twice. I’d ramble. I’d be both flippant and overly sentimental. There would be laughter and tears. It would be the best Oscar speech ever.
Okay, I’m a dreamer. I prefer life behind a keyboard. I am more precise with a pen. I should stay away from microphones. I should go back to written correspondence.
When J.K. Simmons received his Oscar for best actor in a supporting role, he said, “Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call them.”
On Sunday afternoon, I stood in my mother’s kitchen. She told me how hard she worked to get the mud out of my kid’s snow gloves.
“Listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. And thank them,” J.K. Simmons advised in his acceptance speech.
My kids spent winter break making mud pies in my mom’s backyard. I should thank her for loving us, dirt and all.
In April, I will stand behind a microphone as a part of the Atlanta cast of the “Listen to Your Mother” show. My piece is an Oscar speech of sorts. An acceptance speech. While I know nothing of mothering my own kids, I know a lot about motherhood from watching my mom and being thankful for her.
It makes me wonder what kind of thank you is enough.
My dad’s old thank you cards are lost in distant desk drawers and filling up landfills. He said his thanks, and now he’s moved on.
I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. There are so many different people to thank. Better now than in November.
For the bagels and flowers and zombie race. For drinking whiskey with me on the eve of my birthday. For not laughing when I crazy dance. For calming me when I rage. For the mud. For clean gloves. For the legal pad on a Monday morning when I could not call my father.
When I found his handwriting, my dad called me. He told me to write an acceptance speech. He told me to grab the microphone. He told me to say thank you.
Nicki Salcedo is a Decatur resident and Atlanta native. She is a novelist, blogger, and a working mom. Her column, Intersections, runs every Wednesday morning.