I am sad to discover that the hand written letter is an endangered species. Yes, I bet you already knew that and so did I, but I was blatantly reminded of this upon perusing a box full of letters that were lovingly saved by my Mother and Grandmother. I inherited this box after their deaths and I confess I just put it away in a closet. Some day…..I told myself….I would read them.
Not long ago I dove into that box. We were planning a trip to our past and I discovered that they had saved a multitude of letters that we had exchanged during that time frame. We were living a continent away and phone calls were just too expensive, so…..we wrote. We wrote voraciously in our efforts to stay connected. At times, the dates on those headings were almost daily. We also wrote in cursive…imagine that. I was quite impressed with my former handwriting skills (another endangered species), since now I tend to print or type everything.
I can not begin to tell you the joy I felt as I read these letters. I am so very thankful for that window into time that we would not have if dependent only upon my memory. I’ve discovered so many things long forgotten or misremembered. And a memory correction is a good thing. I can hear the whisper of my loved ones voices as I read their letters as well. It was as if I were reading a novel…and I just wanted to keep reading. Later we moved to a location where phone calls were easy, and I’m sure that we were thrilled to hear the voices of those we loved. However, the letters sadly trickled away.
I found letters written during World War II. I found letters that my grandmother wrote to her father which gave me a glimpse into the man that he was…one that I never really knew. I found letters written to my Mother as a child. I found a wonderful letter that my Grandfather had written to his father-in-law promising his love and protection to my Grandmother. Smile. What a treasure trove at my fingertips! A Tree Star perhaps?
I wrote a birthday letter to my sons each year until they were out of college. It was a way of recounting all the wonderful things they had done that year. At the time, I didn’t think I would ever forget any of these things…. but…. I have. I am so thankful that I recorded these thoughts when my memories were fresh, so that now we can look back and remember. I have another huge pile of letters that Steve wrote to me….I can’t wait to sift through those. : )
The information for the awe inspiring John Adams mini-series about the Revolutionary War years was gathered from letters written back and forth between John and Abigail during their time spent a part in those tumultuous years. Had they not been separated, we would never have had that glimpse into such an important part of history. Oddly enough, that is a revelation. Separation, which is not desirable, allows for this wonderful form of communication and leaves behind a footprint.
As technology gives us ways to do things faster and more efficiently, we are losing a precious asset. We can’t sit down and re-read a phone call. Words can stay somewhere out there in Cyber Never Never Land for eons, but I doubt they will be lovingly collected and perused in quite the same way. Our school kids barely even know how to write a letter any more, let alone address one. We need a revival of this literary concept before it goes the way of the DoDo bird.
So, my friends, I encourage you to pick up your pen and write to someone….in cursive….the good old fashioned way. Put it in an envelope and seal it with a kiss. I bet the recipient will be glad to hear from you, and just maybe you’ll get one in return.
“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe