Letters to Keep

Every day when we open the mailbox, don’t we all hope to see an envelope with our name handwritten on the front?

I hope for it every time, but the actual occurrence is rare now that my mother is in heaven.

For many years, my mother wrote me a letter every Monday. At least that’s the day she mailed it; it always arrived here on Wednesday.

Mama was a letter writer. She stayed in contact with her lifelong friends and relatives chiefly by correspondence. Long distance phone calls were usually reserved for my siblings and me. For most of her life, long distance phone calls were a rarity, and were charged to one’s bill in 3 minute increments; veritable luxuries.

Until I was an adult, all calls except local ones were placed through an operator; either person-to-person (the most expensive type but the only way you were guaranteed that you wouldn’t be charged if your intended recipient wasn’t home) or station-to-station. The only times long distance calls were placed or received from our house was when there was important news (usually a death) or an impending visit. I remember one costing $2.47. Converting 1963 dollars to current values, that would be somewhere around $15.00. Even in these freewheeling days, I don’t make $15 phone calls.

We lived in the same city as my parents during the first year of our marriage, so of course, she didn’t send letters then, but I received many in the ensuing years, when we were farther apart.

I don’t know at what point I began saving them, but I’m glad I did, because just seeing one of those familiar envelopes in her handwriting makes me feel good. She had lovely penmanship and wrote chatty, friendly little missives even after macular degeneration made it difficult to write on the unlined paper she preferred.

My mother had many, many admirable qualities. One was taking the time to give of herself and making sure that a loved one had something personal in with their delivered mail.

Because isn’t that what a letter is?

A gift of our time.


Filed under Ephemera, Family, Thrift

5 responses to “Letters to Keep

  1. So true! I love getting letters in the mail and I love knowing that my letters are well received. “A gift of our time” ~~ that’s so beautiful and powerful to me. Thanks!

  2. It’s wonderful that you had the foresight to save some of your Mother’s letters… I can only imagine how much they mean to you. It’s really sad that we don’t communicate in such a personal way any more … or at least I don’t. Your post has made me re-think the way I do things. Thank you so much for sharing this sweet story!

    • Thank you, Geneva.

      I’m writing this to and for myself because I’ve always been a terrible correspondent and I want to change.

      Our culture has lost something genuinely fine if real letter writing goes the way of button-top shoes.

  3. Carla — Because I’m catching up on your posts, I am reading from the top down (last to first), so I commented on your next post about letter writing before I read this one. In my comment on that post I had used almost the same words to describe my mother, the letter writer, as you used here to describe your mother.

    I think I have some of my mom’s letters somewhere. I think I might look them up and share them. Thanks for the inspiration, friend. 🙂

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