Week 33 - Write a letter
I have had a love- hate –love relationship with letters. As a child and a teenager I wrote hundreds of them to my family and friends and a couple of pen pals. I only had to go stay with my older sister for the night and I would write my parent’s letters covered in pictures and kisses. There is no feeling like getting a letter through the post where someone has taken their time to write their thoughts and post them to you. Definitely a lost art with the emergence of text and email but nothing really beats tearing open an envelope in anticipation of revealing the pages with news from a loved one. Pouring over their handwriting unique only to them and all the quirks which may be present. There is a certain art and grace to beautiful hand writing that I really admire. Now everything is instant and electronic I am sure it makes the world a poorer place. I still have an old suitcase full of airmail letters which I received from my Mam when I was in Australia travelling in my 20’s. I could never throw them away as they tell the story of that time.
The only treasured letters I still get are from my gorgeous friend who has settled in Ireland, she takes the time to stick patterned paper to the envelope and we always include a teabag with each other’s letters because we are too far away to share a paned* in real life so we joke that we can share one over a letter.
I love how letters are portrayed in films and books and my heart aches when I think of those men who fought in wars on our behalf , hiding all the horrors they were experiencing with positive words for their loved ones.
My hate relationship started when I left my husband, I started to get anonymous, nasty, name calling letters, coupled with anonymous nasty texts, from a phone number I later found out was registered to my address, and once there were eggs smeared into my front door, so badly I had to sand it down and repaint it. I became a nervous wreck terrified of what was coming next. I developed OCD about checking that my front gate was closed and I lived with my heart in my mouth for a good six months when I received any post or text. My brother used to come to sit with me and convince me that it was just someone trying to frighten me and they wouldn’t actually ‘do’ anything to me or my son. One day when I met my husband in a cinema to pick up our son I confided in him the way all these things were making me feel and told him I was planning to go the police, he looked stricken and agreed that it was very sinister. I still don’t know for sure who was responsible but they stopped after that and very slowly letters stopped being my enemy.
For this experiment I knew immediately that the person I wanted to write to was my Mam. Like our first ever challenge this was difficult for me as we aren’t a hugely demonstrative family and I didn’t want her to think there was anything wrong with me as we don’t do ‘dramatic.’ Still, I felt it was important that I did this, I wanted her to read in black and white what she meant to me. She has loved me unconditionally and helped me financially when I was a single mam working full time to make ends meet, her help let us have some little luxuries. I feel constantly guilty that I don’t do enough for her and I worry she is lonely since losing my Dad. I took her the letter and I don’t know if she has even read it as she didn’t mention it on the phone yesterday…so that was a bit of anti- climax, I don’t know what I was expecting but I thought she might have mentioned it. But as I said we don’t do dramatic or openly talk about our feelings with each other. I just hope she had some pleasure from reading it and being appreciated.
But I didn’t stop at one.
I wrote one to my dad too. Sometimes I miss him so much I can feel my heart contract, but I console the ache inside with the knowledge that he had a long colourful life and his ill health at the end was not a life worth living. I can still hear his voice, smell his smell, remember what his rough hard working hands felt like- as big as spades and his twinkly brown eyes. I shed a few tears as I wrote to him, telling him the things that I wished I could have told him in person and left his letter on the land he farmed.
Thanks for this thought provoking challenge I think it occupied my mind for most of the week and definitely a wake up from the ordinary.
*cup of strong welsh tea