Saturday, July 18, 2015

     

                                                                 Letters

     
     A friend of mine gave me an article she found about letters. Do you remember letters? Some were pages in envelopes in your mailboxes (those things in front of your house or the slot in your front door), and others were messages sent to you from your friend in third grade or that love letter included with a gift from the guy you were sure in 10th grade would be your husband.

     When my father died five years ago, I found an entire stack of letters that he and my mother had written to each other during the war. It struck me at the time that I was holding history in my hand as well as precious insight into the relationship of my parents which I could never have known or imagined. What did it feel like sitting home in1942 not knowing if your husband would come back to you? What was it like in the barracks of a foreign country far away from all you knew and loved? What did it feel like getting ready to have a baby knowing that your husband wouldn’t be there for the birth and might not ever meet his child? I learned all of this through the my parents’ two and a half-year correspondence where my father was a JAG officer in the United States Army in France and Belgium.

    Most of us don’t write many letters these days. Snail mail is almost obsolete, and running to the mailbox for birthday cards is becoming a thing of the past. Messages are brief, written in code and emoji by thumbs, not pens. Cursive has become a lost art, and the written thank you note is a rarity. After reading my friends’ article, I have decided to begin writing letters to my grandchildren. I want to leave them with a personal recorded history of the times, a perspective of things from my generation and a tradition that maybe one of them will carry on. I want them to know the thrill of opening an envelope addressed only to them and to know that the message was written for their eyes only, and it is their choice whether to share it with siblings, friends, their parents or to just keep it in a special place.

     I think the fact that my father kept all of those letters, including cards, notes, letters I sent to him through the years meant that he treasured them and wanted me to read them one day. The ones I sent to him gave me back my own history, so much of which I had forgotten. These letters are an irreplaceable gift that I enjoy over and over. 

     I have written letters to our deceased kitty, to my parents in heaven and to my husband, but I never framed them in my mind as anything but just an expression of wherever I was in my life. I will look at the letters I shall write from this day on as family history, as far-away-grandma support, and as an effort to prevent a dying art form. 


     Stay tuned.