Liz Flaherty photo

It’s in the Mail…

At a writers’ group meeting, Pam, one of the other writers who has a writing voice so deep and poetic I cringe with envy every time she writes, said she’d been writing letters. “Oh,” I said, “it’s a lost art.” And I realized that whether it was a lost art or not, I’d certainly lost it.

I blogged about it, using some of the same words I’m using here. That’s what you do in letters—you tell the same news to everyone you write to. We lost a tree last week in that wind. A new cat has shown up at the bowl on the porch. We don’t need another cat, but he’s so pretty. We got an inch of rain last night—slept right through it. The kids are growing up too fast. Why did I ever say I couldn’t wait to see what they’d be like when they were older? I could have waited. Did you hear about my cousin passing away? So many memories. I should have gone to see her, but never got around to it. Went by your folks’ old house and someone painted it pink—wouldn’t your dad have a fit?

They weren’t important, those letters, that news. Yet they were. Remember opening envelopes and having school pictures drop out? Sometimes a check. Sometimes a five-dollar-bill you needed more than you could bear thinking about. My mom and aunt were the queens of sending clippings. Obituaries, jokes, quotations. We found them in their Bibles after they passed away, with dates written at the tops in faded ink. Oh, yes, memories.

I worked at the post office for 30 years, watching the amount of personal mail drop almost on a weekly basis. There were still lots of greeting cards, especially at Christmas, Mother's Day, and Valentine's day, but not so many letters addressed to colleges, military installations, nursing homes and senior living complexes. It was a sad lessening, a step away from an important way of communicating.

My friend Judith and I still exchange letters three or four times a year. We used to meet for lunch, and I miss that, but in all honesty, I would miss the letters more. If she reads this, I hopeWindo over the Sink Logo she realizes she owes me one. Or maybe she doesn't...but if she thinks she does... Dear Judith. It’s rough getting old sometimes, isn’t it?

I used to have pen pals, didn’t you? And I wrote to school friends in the summer because country kids didn’t see the others from May until September except for 4-H meetings and church. To other school friends who moved away but are still friends all these many years later. I wrote to my aunt and my grandma and to siblings if they were living far away.

I wrote thank-you notes, because my mom insisted on it, and I’m glad I learned how. I must admit, I never got good at it. Dear Grandma and Grandpa. Thank you for the money. Love, Liz.

When my boyfriend was in Vietnam, I wrote to him. All these years later, I still call him the Boyfriend and I write him notes sometimes. He reads them and puts them away in his dresser drawer. He doesn’t write notes to me, but is the master of choosing just the right card for any occasion or, better yet, any non-occasion. Dear Duane. I’ll be so glad when you get home.

I have my parents’ letters to each other, written before they married. I wish I could have known the people they were then, seen the relationship they shared, felt the love they had for each other. It was different by the time I came along. They’d lost a beloved child and, I think, too much of themselves to ever recover the young and hopeful people they had been. There used to be more than one mail delivery a day, and Mom and Dad took advantage of that tenuous connection between Elkhart and Gilead. Hey, there, nice kid. How’s your day?

I've read some of John and Abigail Adams' letters. I love how he began letters to her—"My dearest Friend..." What better thing is there to be than someone’s dearest friend? I desire you would remember the ladies…

Every now and then someone sends me a handmade card with a note in it. It’s such a great gift to get. Local artists sell greeting cards with prints of their creations on the front. They’re beautiful, and when you send one, someone will put it on their fridge or their mantel or the table beside the bed. They’ll think of you. They’ll smile. Their hearts will be lighter.

Letters are dreams on paper, aren’t they? They’re memories and information and secrets and cherished conversations you can read again and again and again. They’re stories that might never have been told if someone hadn’t addressed a letter. They are precious things.

I hope you’re having a wonderful day and that you’ll write and tell someone about it. They’ll be so glad to hear from you.


Liz maintains a blog that you can visit by clicking this link:

Get her latest Romance Novel Nice to Come Home from Amazon by clicking on this link:

Nice to Come Home To is the third book in the Lake Minigua series, following Every Time We Say Goodbye and The Happiness Pact.

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