I have always been a letter writer. I love the feel of a fresh piece of stationery, and watching my words fill a card or a page. I fell in love with my spouse through the letters we exchanged during the years he was in Japan–long before the days of email.
During my college years I wrote letters every Sunday. Letters to John, letters to my parents and extended family, letters to friends both close and farflung. I kept a thick folder of quotations and poetry that could easily be inserted in letters. When appropriate I enclosed pressed ferns or flowers. I decorated my stationery with pictures in the margins and with stickers. I often sealed them closed with an impression from a favorite rubber stamp.
My Mom recently came across the letters that I wrote to my grandmother–covering a span of two decades. Mom had never known that I’d written so frequently and at such length. I remember thinking, at the time, that my grandma would be delighted to get my missives in the mail and it seemed an important duty to write to her often. And she regularly replied, though more than once she expressed her surprise at how much I liked to write letters. I wonder, now, if I was one of the few who wrote to her during those years. Perhaps it was those many years of letters that led to our closeness when I eventually moved my young family near her home. She came over regularly and offered much help and advice with the children. Though our interests didn’t overlap much, it was a joy to have her participate in our lives and I’d forgotten how important that was to me at the time.
Grandma loved roses and she let me pick from her many rosebushes as much as I wanted to. After visiting her I would craft huge bouquets that brought me much joy during the years that I didn’t have my own garden. I suspect that much of my affection for flowers comes from grandma and her husband, who was also an avid gardener.
Grandma is still alive, but suffers now from advanced Alzheimer’s and resides in an assisted living facility. She doesn’t remember any of her family members–even her own children. But I have heard that she still enjoys receiving cards and letters.