One of my prize possessions is a letter dated January 13, 1972. Just a short two page letter that was handwritten by my grandfather. He sent it addressed to “Master David Lee”. (In today’s society, the use of “Master” as a form of address is extremely rare. In my grandfather’s time, it was more commonly used for addressing young boys in formal situations ) It was the first real letter I had ever received. There would be more over the years that he would write but none as special as this first one.
Now over 40 years later, my hands still tremble with excitement when I open that envelope. I am amazed that he took time to hand write a letter to his grandson. The letter is just a two page note he had written from his winter home in Florida. Nothing of any great importance in the subject matter of the letter, unless you consider how he expressed how much he missed me and how much he looked forward to the time we would be spending together during the summer months. But most of all, he expressed how much he loved me.
My grandfather was a writer. Not by profession, but by practice. He wrote letters. He had very nice cursive writing style and his writings were easy to read and easy to follow. My writings pale in comparison. I only wish to be as good as he was.
I often wonder if he knew what he was doing when he wrote this letter? Did he know he was leaving a piece of himself with me? I like to think that he knew that he would be making his grandson feel real special for a few days because he received a real letter from his grandfather. It worked, it made me feel very special. Maybe he knew something that I am just learning. Maybe he knew that he was leaving a part of his legacy.
In this day and age of technology and e-mail, very few people hand write anything anymore. Most people do not hand write anything more than their signature on their credit card charge receipt. I would like to change that.
This past year, I’ve written several letters to friends. Many of them are living in my same hometown. Typically, many people think of letter writing as something done with people living far away. I don’t, however, it does seem a little strange or even odd to write a friend I just had coffee with yesterday. But I find many opportunities to write friends, who I see “face-to-face” in my daily life. Why? Because writing a letter gives me the opportunity to say thank you or give words of encouragement – not that I’m unable to do those things in person. For I have a great desire to converse openly both in letter and in person – especially words of love, respect and gratitude. With a letter, one doesn’t have to find the right moment, or set aside time to say what one wishes to say. Letters provide a very intentional opportunity to communicate precisely.
One also feels pretty certain they have a captive audience from the reader – that is if they choose to read the letter. So I’m curious, do you write letters to friends you see regularly or just those far away friends? Do you even write at all?
My challenge is writing letters to the members of my family. I have a web site specifically designed for them to read long after I am gone from this world. But that is not the same as receiving a handwritten letter from me. I want to spend the rest of my life being a writer…much like my grandfather, not by profession, but by practice.
If I can, I want to write a handwritten letter to each of my friends that stood by me during my most difficult times in life. I want to take the opportunity to express my gratitude for the support and friendship over the years. One thing my grandfather always taught me was the importance of saying “thank you” properly to those in your life that deserve the recognition. I want to write letters of thankfulness from my heart.
I want to encourage all of you reading this post to take this challenge today. I am asking that everyone take a pen or pencil out and write your loved one a letter. Challenge yourself, to answer the following questions: When was the last time (if ever) you wrote a letter to you spouse? Men when was the last time you wrote a letter to your wife? To your children? To your mom or dad? To a special person in your life, maybe a teacher or friend?
The window of opportunity is growing smaller everyday. Do it today…before you regret not doing it after they are gone.
Spend some time today, enjoying spring and writing some words of sentiment to a loved one – in a letter of course! I know I am.
The next letter you receive may just be from me…
Putting pen to paper,
48 written, 136 and counting to write.