Memories of the Art of Letter Writing

letterfromgma I just finished handwriting a 9-page letter to my cousin Carole in Pennsylvania. I wish I could be there to see her astonished look when she opens the mailbox. A letter from me is a rare occurrence.

Of course, it doesn’t make sense. I am a writer, a published writer at that. However, my letter writing skills left me long ago, as well as my neat handwriting. Come to think of it, I’m left-handed and never did have neat handwriting. When I was little, my Great Aunt Florence sent me letters of beautiful penmanship. I tried to mimic that same perfect slant when I taught cursive writing to second graders in the 70s. After painting permanent lines on the blackboard, I stayed after school many days to get the correct slant as a model for my students. Never did master perfect penmanship on the board.

Mom still writes letters. At 93 years old, Mom touches hearts through her simple letters telling friends and family about the Texas heat or the red fox or the squirrel in the backyard. She encourages her pastor with notes of cheer as he battles the cancer ravaging his body. Her niece receives Mom’s letters that sometimes end in mid-sentence; it brings a smile to her face.

Letter writing is a dying art, a nicety of bygone days. With the onset of social media, i.e. Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, ad nausea, we are now making acquaintances “on the fly.” Notice I didn’t say we are making relationships because you just can’t build a strong friendship in 140 characters or less.

I don’t remember what Aunt Florence wrote about, but I do remember my excitement as I opened a letter addressed only to me. I wish I had saved her letters. I did save my grandma’s last letter written just one week before she suffered a massive heart attack that took her life. Rereading that precious notecard today, her final words, written upside down on the inside flap, bring back a flood of sweet memories: “I love you, Judy.”

Do you remember receiving a letter from someone you loved? Can you recall that feeling of being special? Write about that memory—then write to a loved one and make his/her day special.

Categories Legacy, Legacy Writing Prompts | Tags: , , , , | Posted on June 27, 2014

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  1. by Elizabeth

    On June 27, 2014

    Dearest Judy:

    I love what you wrote, and can almost hear your voice coming through your words.
    Well done!

    Also, the photograph is a perfect visual for your story.
    You are so creative.

    Thanks for opening your heart and sharing.

  2. by Joan Reid

    On June 27, 2014

    I loved hearing about your memories of precious letters from years gone by. I have a friend from junior high with whom I have corresponded for about 36 years. We have failed at making the transition to email. Only a handwritten letter will bring about that wonderful feeling of connection. Sadly hers is the only relationship that lingers in hand-written form. I hope to rekindle the skill with some other wonderful faraway friends. Thanks for your encouragement.

  3. by Judy Watters

    On June 28, 2014

    Isn’t it fun to receive that special letter. I’m sure your friend feels the same when your letter comes through to her.

  4. by Judy Watters

    On June 28, 2014

    Thanks Elizabeth. I will always treasure that simple letter from Grandma.

  5. by Van Mabrito

    On June 30, 2014

    So true and excellent reminder Judy. I remember the letters my Dad and Mom wrote me when I was away at the university, or overseas or doing other (sometimes foolish) adventures in the world. My father’s practical words of wisdom to me as a young man growing up. My mother’s sweet words and news of family life back home-such were not only good updates, but having saved so many of them form some links in family history. So I have tried to save most of them. (and only regret I didn’t write back more often).

    And you are so write-right 🙂 Judy: notes on Facebook and other social media-even emails for the most part just evaporate like the morning dew in the sunlight of time and are no more. But hand written letters and notes can be kept and treasured and even passed down. After both of my parents had passed away, I found and kept their letters to each other. And of course we must remember that so much of the documentation for historical ressearch comes from written correspondence-not to mention -and we often forget-that probably most of our beloved New Testament consists of what is really personal letters-not intended as theological tomes.

    But as a “note ” of encouragement-we don’t have to write long letters to touch lives or just to get started. I read an article in Reader’s Digest years ago by a fairly well known journalist how he took up a practice of writing brief notes of 2 or 3 sentences giving praise or thanksgiving to someone for something done-and how it changed lives. And my father who was quite successful in his career encouraged me to follow one of his keys-to write a brief note of thanks to a customer along with perhaps a few words of guidance about a product that would help them.
    So your reminder Judy is so apt and timely. Yes, social media is nice-but a handwritten letter or note is spice for life. And sadly the ephemeral SM (and considering the abuse of the tech the acryonym might appropriately be taken more than one way 🙂 ) forms I suspect are a sign of the decline of our culture-which we can contribute a positive remedy by taking time to write a note or letter to a family member, friend or customer.
    Blessings, Judy!

  6. by Judy Watters

    On July 1, 2014

    So well said, Van. I’m glad my memory brought memories back to you. I hope to improve my consistency of letter writing.

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