Thursday, October 8, 2009

Love and the Lost Art of Letter Writing

This article appeared in the June issue of Womeninc Magazine have written it in two parts and the second part will appear in the October issue. From time to time I plan to publish some of my past articles.

Letter writing is rapidly becoming a lost art. We email, text, Twitter and blog. Many of us rely on Facebook, MySpace and other social networking sites to keep in touch with our family and friends. I grew up anticipating the arrival of the mail and eagerly looking for the familiar handwriting of a grandma, aunt, cousin, penpal or friend. Phone calls were reserved for emergencies and special occasions.

No one loves receiving a letter more than my mom, though she doesn’t receive as many as she used to. The exception to the letter scarcity occurs during our February Florida vacation, thanks to my brother Kent, who has taken it as his personal mission to provide Mom with a hearty helping of hand-written, home-grown communication. This is achieved by cleverly supplying potential correspondents with stamped envelopes addressed to our Florida location. Subtle: No. Effective: Yes.

Kent also sends a letter to Mom every day Sometimes it’s an interesting story from the newspaper, a cartoon or (my personal favorite) a wacky obituary.

Mom sits down at the table and waits patiently for me to scrounge around for the letter opener. I slide the sharp blade through the envelope and a reverent hush falls over the room as I unfold the first letter and begin reading. Even though she knows what’s coming, she eagerly anticipates the opening paragraph. Here, I’ll even give you a sampling of a few:

Dear Wilma,
Now, you don’t have to go to the tanning booth to get that tan-looking skin (ha ha). It’s nice weather here 25 degrees above zero!!!

Dear Floridians,
Guess you are down there in warm country—I bet it feels good after all of your cold weather. We had a storm go through this morning with strong wind and rain but the sun is shining now.

Dear Wilma and family
We had a shower of rain Mon and strong winds. Warm Tues and rain Tue night. Wed cloudy and it just started snowing

Dear Sam, Nina, Wilma, Sam’s Mom, and whoever else is vacationing,
Hello from Minnesota, land of 10,000 pools of water due to the rain and snow melt of the last 2 days.

Are you seeing a pattern here? After the weather reports, we move on to family news:

Health Updates

Gall bladder surgery, cysts, blood transfusions, back surgery, infections, organ transplants, gout, pregnancy, cataracts and joint replacements


(We attended) one of the largest horse-drawn parades in the nation. The horses are all beautifully groomed and the dress of the rider is spectacular. My Dad loved horses and so I think of him as I watch the parade. Do you remember our pony Silver? We gave him a good workout pulling the cart and sled in the winter.

True Crime Reports

…she noticed three men going into the liquor store next to her beauty shop. They were all wearing ski masks. She was very suspicious of this… she got under her desk-a few seconds later she heard gunshots. She called 911. No one hurt, the guys escaped but were caught later.

From the grandchildren:

Happy Valentines Day Grandma!
I hope you are having a delicious time at the beach working on your tan and swimming with the dolphins. OK, so maybe not the dolphin part

Happy Endings

G is so happy with his new life. (His new wife) K has a five-year-old son, and G is working hard at bonding with him.

After every letter, Mom gives each writer her ultimate compliment, “She writes such a good letter.”

For the most part now, Mom relies on phone calls to keep in touch with family and friends. She still writes occasionally but her limited vision makes the process difficult and often she is self-conscious about the resulting letter. Mom’s neat, rounded penmanship, taught with great importance in her small country school, is the same, but keeping the lines straight has become impossible. However, she still “writes such a good letter.”

The brown paper sack was musty smelling and parts of it crumbled as I pulled it out from the dark recesses of the closet. I opened it up, unsure of the contents. Inside were bundles of letters written between Sam and I when we were both in college. My letters to Sam were neatly tucked into a Brown Sugar Cinnamon PopTart Box. I began reading them. I was shocked.

1 comment:

  1. Lovely post.

    The last line was a cliffhanger: "I was shocked." ...Looking in my just-received copy of October's Womeninc for part two...