Have you ever found yourself admiring the beautiful boxes of writing paper? Say, in the book aisle at Winners, or when you’re waiting in line at the cash? Chances are you smiled, then put it back, realizing that even if you did take the time to write somebody a real letter, they’d probably respond by email – maybe even text, if they were really in a hurry.
Today I finally got around to reading through a bundle of letters I inherited from my mother, who died in 2006. Immediately, I wished I could go back 25 years or so, and become a fanatical letter writer, as a means of reminding myself what I did during those 25 years:) I read love letters written by my parents, when they were living apart, but about to get married (they were the ages my kids are now – 20 and 22); letters from my grandparents to my mum before they really knew her, containing such nuggets as, “true love is the greatest of riches”; letters from me to my parents while I was a university student (ye gads – did I really spill my guts about my various romances to my parents?!) The bundle even contained several telegrams (imagine!) Dad sent to Mum in 1957, the cheapest means of quick communication at a distance, I suppose.When I was a student, Nana Mingo typed (because of arthritis) me a letter faithfully every single week. She was fond of including newspaper clippings she thought might be useful, too. Reading those letters today brings her voice back loud and clear, as though she’s still here.
There’s something so intimate about handwritten letters, and it’s a sad thing that they’ve all but become extinct. For sure, the hundreds of email letters I’ve sent over the past decade won’t ever be read again, by anybody. Not that I usually have anything profound or earth-shattering to say, but email is still a record of life, communication, emotions, relationships – at least temporarily, until the recipient deletes it:) Love letters in the sand, sort of.
I made a research trip to the Nova Scotia Archives last week. In perusing various documents, mostly deeds, from the 1750s, I came upon the signature of an ancestor, Jean Frederic Menegeaux (Mingo today). He had simply served as witness to a deed, but I marvelled that I could (via microfilm) study his handwriting, centuries later. Now if only he’d kept a diary…but that’s a whole different kettle of fish…When’s the last time somebody wrote you a letter? Do you have boxes of letters stashed away? Would you be happy to have somebody read them years from now? Hmm…