Personal notes make special memories
My mom had oral surgery this week, so I stayed at her house for a few nights. She slept a lot at first and I got to watch HGTV without kids and the dog interrupting me, so it was kind of fun.
I dragged myself away from “House Hunters” and “Tiny House Hunters” long enough to collect her mail at the end of the road. That’s when I realized yet another way her generation is far superior to ours. They still write each other letters, with real envelopes and stamps and handwriting. Mom received more than a few envelopes, and I was jealous.
My daughter sent letters home from camp over the years, complete with drawings and notes about the food and the bugs and her new friends and the Bible verse of the day. Her personality shone through in her handwriting. I kept every one of those camp letters, and they reflect how she changed from year to year.
Years from now, I will look at the cards and letters Becky sent home from camp, but I will have none in John’s 10-year-old handwriting.
I tried. I begged him to send me a couple of cards. I even pre-addressed and stamped them and put them in his suitcase.
Every day, I scurried to the mailbox to see if my boy had sent his mama some love. Nope, no cards. When I picked him up from camp, I asked him why he hadn’t written. He said with a shrug, “Pillow fights.”
Buried in the “time capsule” in my dresser, I found two letters from my father. They weren’t letters, precisely, but more like thoughts painfully, slowly jotted down on slips of paper. But the sight of my father’s military, blocky handwriting immediately brought his precise personality to mind.
My grandmother wrote down her peanut butter cookie recipe for me on a yellow pad sheet. Now, I’ve never actually made her peanut butter cookies. It calls for an unholy amount of Crisco, for one thing. But the sight of her perfect cursive on the yellow page brings her back to me. That page doesn’t match any of the other recipe cards in the box, but I can show my kids a piece of their family history. Do you remember the thrill of getting mail that wasn’t a bill or an advertising flyer? No, of course you don’t. Neither do I.
I did get one or two condolence cards when my dad passed away, but mostly I got a bunch of “likes” on my Facebook page when I announced his death. Those thumbs up icons on Facebook didn’t warm my heart anywhere as much as those condolence cards. Re-reading an email years later just isn’t the same as seeing a loved one’s handwriting.
Maybe that’s why I write my columns in long hand first.
I think I’ll go write a letter. Surely one of my friends remembers what my handwriting looks like. And then I’ll wander down to my mailbox. Maybe I’ll find a cute little envelope with my name handwritten across the front of it.
Talk to Karen
Follow Karen on Twitter @KarenLeeGamble.