Letter from a Woman Who’s Just Learned How to Read

Note: This arrived via Canada Post the other day, in an actual envelope, printed on honest-to-God paper. I reproduce it below in its entirety, without correction:

Dear William Kowalski,

In the story “The Way It Works,” no one knew Walter Davis was homeless, or at least he thought no one knew. This reminded me of my part in the beginning with my husband, because no one knew I couldn’t read, even F_____, or at least I didn’t think he or anyone else knew.

Before F_____, my life was getting very complicated. I was paying bills on my own using a code system I had developed. We mainly ate T.V. dinners because I couldn’t read recipes. Worse yet, I was struggling helping with my kids school work, and they were only in first and second grade. I had been counting on the school to help my kids, even though the schools hadn’t helped me with my learning struggles.

F_____ knew something was amiss. He decided he needed to go to the school meetings with me. He still didn’t know about me, not knowing how to read. The teachers were letting us know that my kids weren’t learning to read, and they said the kids needed more structure at home.

F_____ and I were left without much help, we were put on a waiting list of some sort, that didn’t amount to much. F_____ did some research, and at the same time began working with the kids (he still didn’t know about me). Then he witnessed me trying to help. That’s when he realized there was a much bigger problem!

In your story, I could relate to the embarrassment and shame of revealing a secret. When Walter finally confessed the truth to the girl of his dreams, he was sure she would reject him for being homeless. In actuality, she knew all along and loved him anyway. For me, I assumed F_____ would think less of me for not being able to read. As it turned out, F_____ stepped up! He sheltered me and loved me even more! We were finally able to get help for our son, who did suffer from a learning disability. Our daughter improved dramatically, later she graduated college with her masters degree.

When Walter finally revealed his secret, his life opened up to all the positive opportunities. When I opened up to F____ this lead me to all the positives as well, because then I had the courage to tell others. By me telling others, I finally got the help I needed through the C_____ Adult Learning Center. I found the acceptance and tools needed to focus on my journey. I learned how to read and do so much more! Walter and I share so much in our hopes and dreams.

Thank you for giving this wonderful, and important literature to me and to others.

With gratitude,