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Correspondence

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office

I love the mailman. I love the mailman because he is the one who holds all the potential of mail in his mailsack.

I don’t know when this obsession with mail began, but I do recall listening for the squeak of the rusty hinges on the old mailbox at my childhood home as a young girl. And watching for him from my bedroom window.

Six days a week is ripe with the possibility of a letter. Or a catalogue. Or a magazine. Reading material of some sort. No matter where I have worked, my co-workers are aware of my delight when the post was delivered.

And yes, even in this age of email, Twitter, and texting, there is nothing like the handwritten letter.

Shocked? Don’t be. For all my embracing of social media, the personality of the author is lost in correspondence when committed to screen in Times New Roman. Every letter looks the same. The content, of course, differs. But one printed email looks like any other. And in that sameness, we are that much more removed from the identity of the letter writer.

Whether away at camp or at college, simply seeing my name and address on the front of the envelope made me smile as I recognized the penmanship. My mother’s small, perfect script. My father’s barely-legible scrawl. My grandmother’s elegant hand. My grandfather’s artistic flair.

In my garage, awaiting The Big Move, sit boxes that contain precious letters, cards, and notes. Physical mementos from loved ones, now gone. I am longing for the day when the kitchen is unpacked, closets organized, and kids are settled. For it is when that time comes that I will be afforded the time to reread those letters. To hold the same pages that soaked in the ink and touched the hands of those who penned them. What will I find in those boxes? Stories long forgotten? Words of encouragement? Or disappointment? Expressions of love? And will the passage of time shed light on old misunderstandings? Weaken resentments? Heal wounds?

What awaits me in those boxes, I do not know. But I am curious. Oh, so curious…



Red Writing Hood is a writing meme. This week’s prompt asked us to talk about finding a forgotten letter or card from someone important in your life–whether good or bad. What does it say? How does it affect you or your character? What is done with it? It is a premature prompt as all of my letters are packed up and waiting for the moving vans. As always, constructive criticism is appreciated.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Friday, 1 July 2011 8:19 am

    I absolutely love this. It’s perfect. It reflects so much that we’ve talked about regarding books, etc. and the handwritten word is so important, so relevant, you get so much more from it. Which is partially why I have bin upon bin of cards and letters I just can’t seem to toss. I just can’t let them go. Especially if written by someone who has passed away. Their handwriting never to be used again, they mean so much more.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 3 July 2011 9:43 pm

      Their handwriting never to be used again,

      Such a beautiful clause. I remember holding on to letters and thinking how sad I would be if I didn’t have them after the authors had died. SO GLAD I held on to them.

  2. Friday, 1 July 2011 9:44 am

    I hardly ever got a real letter. The closest I can compare this to is the notes we used to pass back and forth to each other at school. I had a whole bag full of these weird cryptic notes…sadly, I think I threw them all out years ago.

    It would be so fun to read through them again.

  3. Friday, 1 July 2011 3:28 pm

    Somewhere in my garage is a box of old letters that extend back through my entire life. I am not really sure that I want to see some of them. Some things are best left in the past where the statute of limitations…well, you know.

  4. Friday, 1 July 2011 5:37 pm

    I’m old enough to love the mailman too. When I was in college my grandfather used to send me letters, wonderful letters. I remember being so excited when there were letters in my on-campus P.O. And then I had a pen pal once–from Germany. I’m going on too much. The point is, your post took me back, back to a time when I waited for letters like I waited on Santa Clause. Now, I check my e-mail, but it’s not the same. It doesn’t have stationary, or stickers. It doesn’t have handwriting. E-mail is about speed. Letters were about taking the time to love someone. Thanks for this.

  5. Jockbro permalink
    Friday, 1 July 2011 9:31 pm

    Fascinating that I would choose the exact same four signatures as the four most consistently recognizable throughout my life. I suppose these are the four most influential over the entirety of our lives.

    • Frume Sarah permalink*
      Sunday, 3 July 2011 9:43 pm

      Tanta H would rank a close fifth when it comes to recognizable.

  6. the writ and the wrote permalink
    Saturday, 2 July 2011 11:49 am

    I love to get mail, but so rarely do. I miss having a penpal to share letters with.

  7. Sunday, 3 July 2011 10:18 pm

    After my Dad died my sister’s and I were left with the task of cleaning out the house. In the back of my folk’s closet, we found a brown paper bag. On top was the bouquet my mom carried on her wedding day, perfectly preserved (after over 40 years!). Underneath that was a stack of rubber-banded letters addressed to my Mom. We discovered they were letters my Dad had written to her when he was in Basic Training in the Army, circa 1958. There were at least 40 letters, each one an outline of my Dad’s life as he went through the physical rigors of Basic Training. My Dad has been gone for nearly five years and yet because my Mom saved a stack of letters I now have a permanent record, in his own hand, of a time in his life he very rarely talked about. There is NOTHING like a handwritten letter!!

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