Mein lieber Sohn,
I regret to say that I am writing this to you on my deathbed. The doctor tells me that I have only a few weeks left to live so I feel that at the end of my life I can cast aside convention and confess to you, my son, the strong sentiment I have always felt towards you and all of my children. You know that I have always had a somewhat emotional disposition, a weakness in my character, and I could not pass without leaving a last word for you my long-lost son. The more sensible of my entourage tell me that you are surely dead as you have been unheard of for years but I have always held close to my heart the hope that you are still out there somewhere and that you have found the peace you were looking for.
You know how deeply affected I was by your elder brother's tragic passing. After your second brother took solemn vows to the church it was not permitted to me to know his whereabouts or have any contact with him, consequently he also has been as good as dead to me for years now. How I would have wished to keep you closer, I could have helped to set you up in a comfortable position, however over time I have come to accept that you, like your brothers, wanted to choose your own way. Nevertheless, I would have appreciated just a simple sign from you that you are still alive. You should be my heir and foolish, sentimental me wanted to be able to pass down my estate to you as custom dictates.
I fear that you and I have many similarities in our character and temperament, although you certainly have a stronger spirit. It is this unfortunate legacy that has ultimately driven you away, despite my greatest efforts. Yes, alas, I was once the same ambitious and restless young man you were before you left. My hometown of Bremen being a hub of trade, and my father a merchant, the sight of the ships returning, laden with goods, from expeditions to far off places, excited me no end. Yes, I was the man of aspiring superior fortunes I spoke so badly of, he who sought to rise by enterprise. The richly-clothed and comfortably-off merchants I observed at the port, working alongside my father, appeared so cunning and quick and I longed for their wit and dexterity. I studied their behaviour and trade minutely as my father's apprentice. Times were hard due to the wars and I longed to sail off for foreign shores. It was not my destiny to venture afar however. My older and beloved brother died fighting in the war. Death is a part of life but was very difficult for my weak personality to accept: I had lost siblings in infancy but that, alas, is be expected. Loosing my brother after sharing life from childhood to adulthood meant that I have never been the same since. I had to put aside my ambitions as my father needed me to assist him in his work. I made it as far as England and found that I did quite well there, however I soon realised how difficult it was to integrate in a foreign society: despite changing my name to blend in I was always a foreigner. When I met your mother I was besotted by her and, just as in my youth, by the wealth and status of her family. I directed my ambitions to becoming the gentleman your mother deserved and her family expected. I lived a quiet life, never rocking the boat, satisfied with my lot. I put my hope in my offspring that they would become eduacted, English gentlemen, that they, as per tradition, would take up noble professions like the clergy and the law. Your brother, my first born, was the apple of my eye, very like my brother in appearance, but at the same time my English gentleman. How I emplored him not to fight! He had that far-off look in his eyes and he would be a soldier at all costs. It broke my heart when he was killed at battle. I had comfort from your mother and sisters but why the Lord saw fit to deprive me of my siblings, sons and heirs I know not. Perhaps I was too greedy and had to understand that the simple things in life are all that matters.
I pray with all of my heart that you, my son, have everything you need to be happy, depending on the great personal resources you have. If, as I fear, you too have passed, I look forward to spending eternity at your side when I am finally reunited with my father and brothers.
Your loving father.
Every month, I publish a review of the book I ahve read that month.