I’m a collector of sorts. You might say I’m a collector of happy, sometimes sad, memories in the form of letters or notes. Why do I save this stuff? Perhaps, for just a cold winter day like today. Like a bear, content in watching over its cubs in the warmth of a cave, I, too, am content in the comfort of my living room, reading over the letters and notes I’ve saved.
My personal letter writing started when I was about 12 years old. I found I could have dozens of pen pals through a magazine pen pal page. At least until my mother, due to the price of postage, cut me down to only one pen pal.
Once my son graduated from high school, he joined the service. I loved hearing about his military life. In addition, I felt my son opened up through letter writing, more so then when I was raising him.
Not only are long letters in my trove of treasures, but thank you and short notes.
A thank you I kept was from my older sister, Anita, “Thank you for being a special part of my life.” Anita had a stroke when she was 49, and I treasure this note she wrote after she learned to write all over again.
And, of course, some thank you notes involved a death in the family. After my daughter, Mande’s husband died in a house fire, she wrote, “I don’t know what I’d do without you two. Thanks for helping me understand death and for being there in my time of need.” Years later, my daughter, Kim, sent thanks after her husband of 10 years died, “You’ve been so good to me and Dale through his illness. Dale really liked your company at home and in the hospital. I’m glad you got to be part of his last days. Thanks for being my mother.”
Before my sister, Mary Alice, died of breast cancer, she wrote, “I want you to know how much I appreciated your help over the weekend. I’m also happy for all the things you send me to read.”
Some thank you notes weren’t about sadness. My daughter, Tina, wrote, “I do love you very much. You’re always there to help and give me advice even though I might not take it at the time. I always listen and learn.”
There are times I receive thank you notes from some that are first learning to write, my grandchildren. One day I’ll return their writings, but for now I enjoy reading them.
As the grandchildren grew and the great-grandchildren came along, I invited all for a “bash” at Mom Mom’s house. After they left in the morning, I found a note signed by all, “Thanks for having us over. We had lots of fun. We love you!”
One of my recent letters was from someone unknown to me. As a freelance writer for many years, and having been published, I finally received my first fan letter. I write family stories for my hometown’s historical society newsletters and one of the readers wrote, “Thank you for preserving this story as well as sharing it with others.” That was definitely a keeper!
My husband and I give each other cards on anniversary and birthdays etc. I have all of them in one big plastic bucket. It wasn’t too long ago I got them out, and one Friday evening. We read over them one more time. We’ll probably do it again in another five years.
Now, in my retirement years, I’m grateful to have saved all these letters and notes. I hope to continue to give and receive letters as I grow older. Perhaps, on another cold wintry day, I’ll reread my letters all over again. There’s something precious about the giving and receiving of letters.