Tweets From My Beloved

Yesterday on my lunchtime walk with Worm Girl she had a story she was so excited to tell me.

She lives in the same house where she grew up and when both her folks passed, she inherited it. Over the past year she has been renovating the place and updating the furniture. She’s making it her own home.

Part of that process has been uncomfortable for her. She’s been pulling everything down from overhead storage in the garage, including boxes that haven’t been opened for decades. It’s been a sad but fulfilling process to go through things that belonged to her folks along with family memories.

Over the weekend, she found a box that she thought had been long missing. It contained much of their family’s photo collection, her parents wedding photos, and a big stack of letters.

Her parents were married quite young. Her mom had moved to the US from Australia and was something like 18. Her dad was a couple years older and was in the military. After they married, he was deployed overseas and so for the first years of their marriage, their relationship existed solely via written letters back and forth.

She said, “They were so cute!” as her dad fretted about her mom learning to drive a car and the fact that “That ol’ Plymouth” kept having to be taken into the shop.

He told her the events of his days in details, almost boring minutiae, then would end with a shy proclamation of love.

At one point he was rather bold. It seems that the young wife was quite thin, too thin, and was trying to put on some weight. “I hope you’ve gained a little weight. I want you to be hale and healthy for my return, if you know what I mean.”

This part made me laugh right out loud. I said “You dad was a bold one, wasn’t he!” and she laughed too.

Then I told her I have some of my parents’ letters too. It was a lot along the same lines. Several pages of “what I did today” and wrapping up with a few love words. They are fun to read.

Which got me thinking about how great the art of letter writing used to be. It was such a valid and important means of communication and staying in touch. But it also provided a written history of the lives of these people. Something tangible to hang onto which helps the reader feel a little closer to to the past. I have letters from my Great Grandfather to my Grandfather. I never met my Great Grandfather but I sure know a lot about him by reading his stern words.

I also have one of the most beautifully written love letters I’ve ever seen that was written by my paternal Grandfather to my Grandmother. In his words I know he truly, deeply loved her.

Not that I have any kids who will pull my mementos out of storage one day, but I got to thinking about the early days of my own beautiful romance and marriage. We have a few notes and cards that are very dear to me, but I have to be honest, in those first blushing days of our relationship, we exchanged most of our correspondence over email, text message and chat.

I guess you can’t really clutch an iChat log close to your chest and cherish the memories of simpler times, can you? My godaughters won’t be able to learn about the love of Nina Karen and Uncle Good Man the way I did, by exploring old scrap books.

Time marches on, but I can’t help but feel that over time we all will have lost something of our personal and enduring history by losing the art of handwritten letters sent in an envelope with a stamp. Just not the same as a click on a screen.

Comic found on People I Know.

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