On days I get stuck with my writing, I peruse my notebooks looking for entries to ignite an idea. In one of my notebooks I found a card from my dear friend, Amy. On the front there was this quote, “Letters have souls.” That quote coupled with Betsy Hubbard’s letter writing idea last year and a post from another slicer this year got me thinking more about this beautiful gift of writing.
Over the weekend, one of the SOLSC bloggers, shared that she and her niece exchange letters on a weekly basis. Wow – such a beautiful practice. She also regularly sends letters and birthday cards to friends and family, and is especially mindful of her older relatives who may not be tech savvy.
Sitting on my coffee table right now is a box of letters chronicling the life of a couple in northern New Jersey – from their courtship, education, his service in WWII, marriage, and the birth of their son. It showed up in at an auction along with some other miscellaneous items. Although I had planned on reading through and drafting their story, the letter writing is small, so I need to enlarge them in copy. Beyond the letters, there are other artifacts, from the woman’s job as a teacher, a graduate from the old Trenton State College, and his alumni information from Princeton. There’s even a dance card inside one of his Princeton fraternity dances. I get lost in the romanticism of their life, and in the art of letter writing itself.
Although my parents found it challenging to express their feelings verbally, they were comfortable to share their thoughts in writing. I saved all of the various birthday cards, capturing their love. My mother, a recovering alcoholic, wrote my brothers and me letters of gratitude, on the anniversary of her first year of sobriety, thanking us for saving her life. Each if us cherishes those words.
I do my best to keep up this tradtion whenever I can. For example, when my daughter was four or five, I bought her the Dr Seuss classic, Oh the Places You’ll Go. Throughout her life, I wrote inside of it, documenting all the major events leading up to college. When she graduated, she decorated her cap to emulate the cover. When she was deciding on colleges, and ultimately ended up at the University of New Hampshire, there were two times we heard the Martina McBride song, “In My Daughter’s Eyes.” I used the lyrics to write her notes when we dropped her off and when she graduated. This past Christmas, I revisited that song in a letter I put in her stocking. I decided to share it here…
I stumbled upon this ornament back in November, and it immediately reminded me of you… and that almost-fateful day years ago when you bravely took to that massive hill in Schooleys Mountain Park… I will never forget that moment as long as I live, because it was the day you taught me to embrace my responsibilities as a mom.
It’s been quite a year, Dana. And although there has been a great deal of emphasis on your brother, the highlights of your year have not gone unnoticed. Your loyalty as a friend was apparent with two more weddings and your role as maid-of-honor (again)… Your commitment to your health has taken center stage as you are in the best “kick-ass” shape of your life… and although your heart was broken, it’s better to have loved than not…
In keeping with my tradition of reflecting on the song, “In my Daughter’s Eyes,” I am going to add another verse…
“… I realize what life is all about,
It’s hanging on when your heart has had enough,
It’s giving more when you feel like giving up,
I’ve seen the light,
It’s in my daughter’s eyes”
Your loyalty, commitment and brave heart have remained an example to me as I’ve navigated my way through the challenges of these past few months. I don’t know what I would have done without you, Dana…
“In my daughter’s eyes,
I can see the future,
A reflection of who I am and what will be,”
As we turn the corner and enter into 2017, my wish for you is to remember that day on the hill, grab those reigns once again, and take the plunge into a new educational or career change. You have many gifts and talents, Dana, to be rediscovered… take some time to reflect, so you can be reminded of those passions and embrace a new path…
Mom, your biggest fan
After UNH graduation
I am happy to share that my daughter is making a change out of business and into health and nutrition. She is in the process of completing certifications as a personal trainer and in nutrition. She is also planning on heading back to school to become a registered dietician. I am so proud of her. As an aside, she also has a way with words. Last year, when I was on a retreat, she sent me the most beautiful letter, sharing thoughts and feelings that touched my heart and made my cry – tears of joy, very moving. Hopefully, she will also keep up this tradition with her own children some day, and remember …”but the truth is plain to see, she was sent to rescue me, I see who I want to be, in my daughter’s eyes.”
At my niece’s wedding with my sister-cousin, Judy