I come from a family of letter writers. For you young people, who may not know, people used to communicate with each other by using a pen to put words on a piece of paper.
They then folded the paper and put it in an envelope. They licked the glue on the flap and sealed it. They wrote on the front on the envelope the address of the person they wanted to send it to. They wrote their own address in the upper left hand corner, so if the letter got lost, it could be returned to them.
Finally they licked a small piece of paper called a stamp and glued it to the upper right hand corner of the envelope. They bought these little pieces of paper from the post office.
Sometimes if the person wanted to send their letter with Love, they wrote on the place where they sealed the envelope. They wrote “SWAK.” This meant it was “sealed with a kiss.”
When they were ready to send their letter, they took it to the post office and slid it through a slot that went to a container where the postal workers would collect it and prepare it to send. Besides deciding which train to send it on, the postal workers put something called a postmark on it. It showed the date and where the post office was located.
My parents were great letter writers. They wrote my brother and me every week from the time we left home until they were promoted to Heaven. Their letters were filled with common every day news like the weather, church activities, social events, updates on friends and family or what was growing in the garden.
Their letters were also filled with gratitude to God for everything. Even as they reported on trials and losses in their lives, they sought the silver linings in the grey clouds.
My mother hand wrote her part of the letter. Even as her handwriting became more shaky with age, still she faithfully wrote.
My father typed his letters under hers. He used an old manual typewriter for years before he advanced to an electric typewriter. In later years, when he made more typos, he would apologize and say he did not know what was wrong with his typewriter that it seemed to be making more mistakes.
My father ended his letters with the sign off of the time when he first learned to write letters. People in that day would end a letter by writing, “I remain” or “I am” and then put their name. Example: “I am Horace Priester.” Sometimes they put a descriptor. One of my father’s last letters ended with “I am your old worn out Daddy.”
Their letters chronicled their lives. I looked forward to receiving them. Their words carried me through some of the best times of my life and the worst. I saved almost all of them. Somewhere inside me, I knew those letters were gold that would be treasured long years after they were written. And they were.
My mother died in 1997. My father died in 2002. I grieved heavily. They had been my ever faithful life line for so many years of my life. I could not even imagine a world without them. But there came the day when I opened my old trunk and there were the letters.
My tears flowed freely as I sat in the basement and read “it’s been hot today” … “we shelled beans this afternoon” … “Mrs. Smith has been in the hospital” … “Your Daddy is too sick to write this time, but wants you to know he loves you and he will write next time” … “God has been so good to us” … “we love you so much.”
That day was the beginning of a project of love. I put the letters in order and collected them into a book called “Letters from Home.” When I need some encouragement, a smile, a laugh, a throw back to a simpler time … when I need to be reminded of Love, Faith, Gratitude and all that is real in life, I get out my book.
In this world of texting, email and social media, letter writing seems to be a lost art form. But once upon a time, people got out the paper (and sometimes, fancy paper called stationary) and pen and began with “Dear” and ended with “Lots of Love” (or my mother’s favorite, “Heaps of Love.”)
Perhaps today might be the day when you think of someone special and write them a letter! And if you love them, you might even want to seal it with a kiss! 💞