Gloria Ferris

one woman’s view from a place by the zoo in the city

Archive for June, 2014

Letters and Their Meaning over Time

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Over the past few weeks I have been thinking of the letters I have written, sent and unsent, and the letters I have received throughout my life.  The reason for this reflection has been a memory book that my cousins and I compiled for our Aunts-Mick and Connie.

When we began planning the book, we immediately knew we would include memories of Grandpa John and Grandma Esther as well as the picnics and holidays we spent together as children. And then, the Workman cousins asked for memories of their sister Cynthia who we lost way too soon in our lives. I was 21 when she died of complications from pneumonia and kidney failure, so was she. They were much younger, the oldest 15 and the youngest, just 7 years old. 

Their request made me realize that they too had lost someone way too soon. When I sat down to write that short essay I realized that one of the things I cherished most about my cousin Cynthia was her passion for writing letters to stay in touch. When she and her family moved farther away from us, and she didn’t see her cousins as often, she devised a “round robin” letter writing campaign, so that Peg, she and I could stay in touch by writing a letter a month.  She would start the progression, send it to me because she knew I was the procrastinator in the group and then, I then would send it on to Peg, who would write her contribution and send it all back to Cynthia who would then write the next month’s beginning letter, include Peg’s. and send it all to me.  How I looked forward to the mailman towards the end of the month when I knew a letter should be arriving soon.

Lo and behold, today, I received an email from her older brother who tells me he has a box of the letters she sent to him, and he will gladly share them with Peg and me.  To dwell in the past is not a good thing to do, but to be able to travel back to another place and time when you were young opens a connection to people that were very special and important to you and that is a good thing.

How often, when I open a box of the cards and letters that I did keep. I wish that I had kept just a few more of the everyday missives that I received from friends and relatives. I kept many of the letters my best friend Beth wrote to me when I was in college because she always included them with a card that made me laugh or remembered some event that she and I had shared together. She on the other hand, had a mother who saved a box of “school notes” that she wrote to me and other friends. Of course, it again had that “round robin” effect.

The year I had my heart attack I went to spend a week with Beth and her family. She opened that box and we spent a joyous afternoon, laughing until we cried, crying until we laughed because there was some sadness included in the writing of those notes. In the end, she and I were amazed at what we saw then as being obstacles and incidents that had the possibility of changing our lives forever, were in the here and now, not so important after all.

I guess that my intention for writing this post is to warn those of you who have the tendency to purge the past out of your lives periodically to be sure that you ask the question “Will I wish I had kept this letter, note or card when I am sixty four?  

 

Written by Gloria Ferris

June 30th, 2014 at 2:56 pm

Posted in dialogue,family,friends

Tagged with , ,