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.
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”.
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,
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?