Sandy Munro, father of two living in Aspen, Colorado, is the author of “Finding Uri,” a memoir about his father. A former navy pilot and high school physics teacher, he owned Aspen’s Great Divide Music acoustinc string shop and performed with bluegrass bands (http://sandymunromusic.com/s/Sandy_Home.html). One day he discovered 190 letters between his mother and father, a naval aviator who went missing while flying in the Pacific during World War II, when Sandy was four years old. The letters inspired him to write “Finding Uri,” an intimate look at the special relationship between his parents while they were separated by war. Further details atfindinguri.com.
When you were born, your great-grandfather Alec called you his little Russian princess. He should know—he was married to one. Perhaps Varvara was not an actual princess, but she was, at the very least, a darkly diminutive beauty whose aloofness could be mistaken for nobility. Alec was a Scot who married his Russian dream, and so your grandfather Uri was born in Russia. It’s why we called you Natasha, with no middle name.
I’m sending you this book I’ve written, to arrive in time for Father’s Day. It’s the story of Uri, and my mother Betsy. None of us, until now, had a chance to know my father. He was lost flying in torpedo bombers in the last few months of World War II when I was not yet four years-old. Then, in 2007 — what a shock! — to receive almost two hundred letters that no one knew existed. And what a surprise to meet your grandmother Betsy, wildly in love at the age of twenty-three. As you know, even in her eighties she was the feisty center of it all.
I’m so proud of the life you’ve carved out for yourself. You’ve laughingly embarrassed me about my puffed-up stories of growing up with horses. I really did help take care of them, but only owned one—Blackie, a spirited Welsh pony with one eye blue and the other brown. On your eighth birthday I took you to meet horses. You fell in love and it’s never been the same. Now you and your beautiful children, Uri and Sophia, ride your horses, and feed your pigs, goats, lambs, and chickens while your well-read, soft-spoken husband trains horses that once thundered through my dreams. I’m proud of how lucky you are.
On this Father’s Day I find myself thinking not just fathers and sons, but daughters and mothers, and the strong threads that tie us. My editor and friend, Karen Chamberlain, taught me that we all have family stories—that they’re all important, and that they all deserve to be told. Keep our family stories close to your heart, Natasha. When Sophia and Uri ask you to tell a story at the dinner table, remember you have some good ones to pass along. In the process of writing this book, I discovered that by sharing the stories we can make people live again.
P.S. – “My book certainly made clear to me the importance of these family ties. Writing to your kids is a particular type of storytelling. Most families have a box of letters somewhere. If my book makes people think about digging those out to pass on, I’m a happy guy.”