Authors note: You will notice that there are spelling errors and sloppy writing throughout the beginning of this story. However, this was purposeful, as to imitate how these children would write. Enjoy!
So was carved, on the fifteenth day of July, of the year 1941, into The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park:
Wednesday July 16th, 1941, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Friday July 18th, 1941, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
What’s your name? I’m Annamie -AJL
Monday July 20th, 1941, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Sunday August 24th - Wednesday August 27th, 1941, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Hi Matt, I found a hole in the tree and I thought it would be eesier to write on rael paper. I have a few questins.
Whats your full name? Do you have a middle name? Do you have brothers or sisters? Do you have any frends? I can be your frend. What about your family? Where do you live? How old are you? When’s your birthday? What’s your favourit topic in school? You do go to school, don’t you? I’m sory if you don’t. If you do do you like it?
My name is Annamie Jane Lippin, but you can call me Anna. I have no brothers or sisters. I dont have any frends, but maybe you coud check yes at the bottom and then Ill have one? I live 4 houses from this tree. I’m 8. My birthday is June 4. I love righting in school because I get to say whatever I want. I don’t like school. Peepl dont like me and my dad says its becuse I talk to much.
Did I talk to much? Sorry if I wrote alot. But don’t be perturbed, Im actually reely smart! So can we be frends?
Yes___ No ___
-Annamie Jane Lippin
P.S. I learnd perturbed in language this mourning. It means put off or concrned. Isn’t it grate?
Hi Anna you did write a lot but that’s okay since I like making friends. Here are my answers
I dont have a middle name
I have a little sister but shes annoying, your lucky
I have some friends, my best friend is named Kevin and he’s really kool
My mom and dad are the best in the world but I also love my grandma and espeshilly my grandpa
I live down town but my grandpa lives 5 minites from here
My favourit is math unless I can say recess then its recess
Yes I go to school
I dont like school work but I like seeing my frends
Wow you live really close. I bet Ive walked by youre house. You like writing??!!! I’m so bad at it I hate it. Your lucky if you can do it. Thats too bad that you dont like school but I understand and I dont think you talk too much I prefer it to when people dont talk enough. Pertrbed is a big word! You really are smart.
Yes x No _
P.S. You have a weird sense of cool Annamee
Tuesday October 14th, 1946, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
A little favour? You cant tell anyone about me cause if my parents find out I come out hear they’ll be mad -Anna
Promise. If you were here, I’d be shaking you’re hand. -Matt
Wednesday December 17th - Thursday December 18th, 1941, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
You’re writing more Anna, are your parents fighting again? You can tell me -Matt
Yeah it’s been really loud and I really really hate when they fite so I’ve been in this tree more. I wish parents didn’t fite. Sometimes I wish they woud just stop for a minut and remember I exist. You’re lucky your parents get along.
Word of the day: philosophy
I’m sorry your parents fight. I guess I am lucky but at least you dont have siblings. Didi snuck into my roome yesterday and stole my pencils -Matt
Thursday May 7th, 1942 (and every other year until 2013), The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
HAPPY BIRTHDAY MATT
Thursday June 4th, 1942 (and every other year until 2013), The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
HAPPY BIRTHDAY ANNA
Sunday June 21st - Tuesday June 23rd, 1942, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
So did you get your hat back from Penny? Sounds like she was gona keep it… also my team won the semi-finals last night -Matt
You bet I did. No one gets my property leest of all her. Congratulashins on soccer! I dont understand the appeal but I now it’s important to you -Anna
Thanks. Also I beat my grandpa in cards yesterday for the first time -Matt
I knew you could do it! Also I still cant get over how great this tree is -Anna
Friday April 2nd, 1943, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
I’m sorry meeting up didnt work out last week. I didn’t know my mom was gonna make me do chores. I was looking forward to it. -Matt
Me too -Anna
Sunday August 4th, 1946, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
I’m sorry, Matt, it’s official. My parents are splitting up and my mom is moving me like 20 minutes away BY CAR and I won’t be able to get here very often. I’m not gonna get to see my dad very much. I’m gonna have to move schools. It’s a lot. -Anna
I’m so sorry Anna. That’s terrible. But it’s not unexpected, I guess. I wish you could be closer but we’ll make it work. Maybe you’ll make new friends at your new school. You can take on anything, Annamie Jane Lippins. -Matt
We’ll see. Pray for me. -Anna
Monday May 17th - Wednesday May 19th, 1948, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Here commences Matthew’s monthly updates on Annamie’s life.
I met a boy. I went on a date. It was wonderful. I’m flying.
After your talk of university last month, I’ve decided I’m applying for English at the University of Toronto in 2 years. They won’t want me, but I’m relentless.
My mom’s increase in happiness has continued, just like it has every other month without my dad. I haven’t seen my dad since March.
Started writing a book. Expect to see my name on the bestseller list in 5 years.
High school is still dreadful. You’re still my only friend.
I miss writing with you as much as we used to.
Who’s the guy? That’s great but don't let him stop you from flying later
That’s great news! Be prepared for struggle and don’t give in cause you’re the smartest person I know, no matter what people see
Make sure you see your dad soon.
What would you possibly do without me?
I miss it too.
Okay, my life. Vanessa and I broke up. (I’m fine.) I got into U of T! Super excited and can’t wait to get away. And don’t worry, we’ll be there at the same time somewhere along the line. We had my grandpa’s funeral last week. I cried. We’re moving into their house. High school is still pretty much dreadful too. Can’t wait to get away. -Matt
Thursday March 26th, 1953, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Accepted into U of T! Fourth time’s the charm! See you there! -Anna
Monday June 20th, 1955, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
Liz said yes! Date is March 13. We’re buying a farm! Parents hate it, we’re fulfilling our dreams. It’s a good life. -Matt
I said yes too! Met Thomas three weeks ago and I am hopelessly completely wondrously impossibly in love with him. I’m flying. You’d like him. -Anna
Tuesday September 16th, 1958, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
I just finished reading your book! It’s incredible. Really, Anna, I’m seriously impressed. I’m over here raising cows and you’re inspiring the masses. Keep being beautiful and intelligent and showing the world that those can fit together. It may have taken 5 extra years, but it was worth it. You really are relentless. I’m proud of you. -Matt
I’ve never held back and I never will. Never gonna stop. That’s what my book is. Showing the world. Thank you. And you risked everything for a pipe dream and your pipe dream worked out and you’re happy. So I’m proud of you too. -Anna
In 2013, it was two weddings, dozens of anniversaries, four children, three books and one spousal death later when Annamie Jane Lippin visited The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park for the last time. She knew her days were numbered. In her hand, she clutched a letter. The last letter.
But Anna knew something was wrong the moment she turned the corner. There was a middle-aged man reaching to place a box into the stump in their tree.
“Excuse me, are you by any chance Annamie Lippin?” Anna nodded. “My name is David. My father, Matthew Jameson, asked me to deliver this. He said you would know what it meant.”
Anna took the box. She opened it just a crack and saw dozens of pages inside. “Thank you.”
“He passed away yesterday.”
Anna was not sad. If she were to be sad, it would only be in the way that endings are sad. But they always happen. It had been Matt’s time. And now it was hers. Instead, Anna was accepting.
“Who are you?”
She chuckled. “An old friend.”
Tuesday June 3th, 2013, The Outstanding Elm of Barrymore Park, Toronto ON
I was lying in my bed earlier today. Not to be grim, but I was waiting to die. Three heart attacks hadn’t gotten me yet, and I couldn’t help but wonder, why am I still here? What final purpose do I serve on this Earth?
The answer is you, Anna. I never got to say goodbye.
When we first wrote, when we were only children, I didn’t know I had made a friend for life. If it weren’t for you, I never would’ve known it was possible to have a best friend for 72 years, but who you never met. All those years being partners in crime are eternal. To us, they will never end. You have been my longest and greatest companion. I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Supportive till the very end and a friend when I had none. Naturally, in the end, I thought of you.
Our story is impossible, wild, exciting, loving. So many stories and so many letters. I enclosed them for you, in this box, so that you may read them should you desire. I hope you pass our letters down in your family. Beautiful stories are meant to be shared. I give you my permission to break our promise of keeping each other a secret. I also encourage you to meet my family, if you have the life in you left to do it. Introduce our children, perhaps. They will love you as much as I do.
By the time you read this, I will most likely be dead. I fully plan to go to sleep in a few hours. I don’t mean that to be as dark as it sounds. I’m truly okay. I lived a happy, healthy, and peaceful life. And just so you know in advance, death isn’t scary, so don’t be afraid. Not that you’ve ever been afraid of anything, my dear Annamie. Here you are, talking to a ghost.
I wish well for your children, your husband, and, of course, you. May you finish your life in the same loud, joyful way you lived it.