I Grieve For The Hand Written Letter.

When did you last write a letter?
A whole generation have grown up having never received or written a letter. They do not know what it feels like,
to pick up a pen and a writing pad, to address a letter and date it.
Then to begin, Dear…..

I have just returned from a three day visit to my mum. Whilst there we took out old photographs,
and lost ourselves in times gone by.
Then my mum showed me some letters she has kept.small__4764865677
What treasures. Real life stories.

The first I read was held within a well worn envelope. A beautifully hand written letter,by my grandmother to my father.
It was addressed to, “My dearest darling son”. As I held it in my hand I imagined my grandmother writing it.
The ink was a bit smudged in places. Had she shed tears?

This letter was being sent in response to one received from my father, telling my grandparents of his plans to marry my Mother.
He was only twenty three and had been concerned his parents would consider him too young. In her reply, my grandmother spoke of her love for my Dad. She wrote,“my dearest boy we do not think you foolish to be marrying so young”.
She knew he would, “fully appreciate his responsibilities despite his young years” and continued,
upon hearing the news your Dada had swelled with pride”.”Never before did I hear him talk so highly of his fine, strong, handsome son”.
She finished the letter saying she wished “to post this quickly, as I know you will be waiting”.small_6924461861

I read and re read the letter then I carefully folded it and returned it to its envelope, addressed to a flat in London where once my Dad had lived. I was holding my history in my hands, a tangible link between me and a grandmother I never met. Their conversation so real it was easy to forget the age of this letter, or the fact they were both no longer with us.

Then I opened another letter. This one was short. It was addressed to my grandparents and was written by my father. He had a special purpose for this letter.It was to arrive on the 25th of July 1955, the day he was to be married. The opening line asked his parents to “look carefully at the date for as you read this, Agnes and I will be man and wife”.
It was his way of sharing his wedding day in London with his family in Donegal, Ireland.

As I read these letters I was deeply moved. My father and grandparents had held these self same letters in their hands. I was looking at their handwriting and reading their thoughts. Each letter was a story in itself. I knew the ending, this was the beginning.

It made me think of the enormity of what we have lost. Technology has made the art of letter writing redundant. Our children do not understand “snail mail”, nor do they know how to write letters and almost all will never know what it is like to receive one from a loved one.

They will never feel the giddy anticipation,small_20732186
felt prior to opening an eagerly awaited letter hand written by someone they love. The thrill of rushing away to some quiet place to be alone. Reading and rereading their letter over and over before carefully folding it returning it to its envelope and placing it
carefully into their pocket. Or perhaps it is a letter to be secreted away from prying eyes. The joy of bringing it out to read again anytime they wish. The chance to keep it always as a lasting memory of a bygone day.

Modern technology I applaud you, but I will forever mourn the loss of pen and ink and a handwritten letter.

How can an email possibly compare?

photo credit: UMBRELLA SHOT via photopin cc
photo credit: ario_ via photopin cc
photo credit: The Happy Rower via photopin cc

26 thoughts on “I Grieve For The Hand Written Letter.

  1. I agree! I can’t find it right this second, and I’m hoping it’s still somewhere and not lost, but my dad wrote me a letter after my team won the state soccer championship in high school. He didnt’ go to the game, as was typical. He was not much to compliment. When he didn’t speak after a game, I knew I played well and that he approved. Anyway, his letter was basically 17 years worth of I’m proud of yous and what nots. I cherish that letter, even though I can’t find it, and I’ve made it a point to hand write notes for my own kids. I write them a note on their birthday and I write them one on their first days of school. I hope they’ll keep them.

  2. I agree. My friend and I used to write letters to each other when we went away on summer vacation and I still cherish those letters over vacation emails I have received from her. There is something about reading a hand-written letter that email can’t quite capture…

    1. I read this post to my own kids and they are also a bit mournful they have not received a letter. Its amazing how many of us have kept old letters. Thank you so much for your comment.

  3. What a beautiful text. I have letters from my husband from our courting days, from my parents, from my siblings… I still enjoy pulling them out and reading them. Apparently 45 Amercian states can now opt out of cursive writing in the school curriculum as testing will be done online…. I was hoping that it was an April fool joke.

  4. Can’t remember the last time i wrote a letter

    Too late to start now – I can’t read my own handwriting never mind expect anyone else to decipher it !

    1. /You’re the pits! Did you keep any letters your wife sent you? If your like my husband you didn’t but unknown to him I have some of them kept, just in case he gets nostalgic some day.

  5. I love reading old letters like that. My mother has a series of postcards her aunt & uncle exchanged while they were living in separate countries.
    And recently my 8year old and her pal have been writing to each other (even though they live in the same town) just to have that thrill of opening an envelope and reading a letter.
    Technology can never beat that!

    1. Have you ever seen the book “Dear Grace”? It is a series of letters written by Irish kids to Grace who died when she was 9. It is fab, comes out every year and is used in a lot of schools to get kids to write a letter. Love the idea of your small one writing. They will be worth keeping!

  6. I was once a fairly prolific letter writer to friends and family. You’re right, an email just doesn’t compare. And yet, because life has become so busy with work and children, email and facebook have taken over as the ways I keep in touch, when I actually manage to keep in touch. I miss the days of sitting in a cafe writing letters…

    1. Yes time is killing us. I have a great friend in america and I have been promising myself I will write a great newsy letter to her. Have I? No. I have sent a couple of meaningless sentences via facebook. You have spurred me into action. thanks for taking the time to comment. I love comments.

  7. I agree. Emails (worse – SMS) can never compare to handwritten letters/notes. I still love receiving snail mail, and I last received a handwritten letter 5 years back from a dear friend when my daughter was born. There’s so much you can tell about a person from the way he/she writes – penmanship is a lost art.

  8. Thank you for sharing. I feel like I’ve managed to share a bit of that history through your writing. I too wish we return to those days of writing but unfortunately, I think the art of handwritten letters is almost lost.

      1. Oh my comment did go through after all! Sorry if I had posted multiple comments. I kept getting responses to say that my comments couldn’t go through!

        1. Your comment came through twice but only showed in my dashboard so no worries. I must check are you listed in the blogs I follow as I did try twice to “follow” you!

  9. I love this, my best girlfriend and I still pen pal back an forth very regularly, there is just nothing better than writing and receiving a hand written letter in the mail 🙂

    1. Yes I have to agree. It is something special. And the re opening of those letters in time. Thanks a mil for calling over and taking the time to comment. Much appreciated.

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