Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)
TITLE: Light Blue Airmail Envelopes
By Yvonne Leigh
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Most of my growing up years were in rental houses that were doing good to provide electricity. Other technical amenities, such as telephones, were never added. I never questioned why we didn’t have a phone. It didn’t occur to me that we needed one. Until my parents bought their own home, the only contact we had with family was the mail service. We always had a mailbox.
What a wonderful joy to get a letter from my grandmother in that lightweight blue airmail envelope. There would be a big, “Australia,” at the end of her address in the upper left corner. The stamp was always special and I would inspect the envelope for anything new before I opened it. In my mind, I would imagine the miles it traveled and smell it for evidence of where it had been. And then, the letter itself would assure me of my grandmother’s love as she told me how things were going for her in Melbourne. No matter how I struggled for acceptance anywhere else, there was never any doubt that I had her allegiance.
I’d write her back and include my drawings of fancy ball dresses and I’d tell her of my prayers for snow this winter. What difference did it make that I lived in the semi-tropical region of South Alabama. I could still pray for snow and I told her so in more than one letter. In my heart, I know she agreed with me that I needed that snow, and she joined her prayer to mine. When I was eight years old, snow fell on South Alabama for the first time in fifty years and I was able to write her and tell her about it. The US Post Office had no idea they were responsible.
As I grew older and my interests expanded, the letter writing slowed to a crawl. Because I have a tendency to hold forth in letters, and put in print my inmost thoughts, I have to choose the right time to write one. Never do I write a letter when I’m emotional. My teen years were charged with emotion and that’s when I stopped writing to my grandmother. I’d write one, review it, and decide I didn’t want to say that. Then I’d toss it in the trash. As a grandmother myself, I grieve over that error on my part.
We parted on my second birthday, my grandmother and I, when I went with my mother on that ship. Her heart was broken when I left and I could never make it up to her. As much as I loved her letters, I know now it didn’t compare with what she felt when she received one of mine. Big childish print and drawings was her only embrace and I couldn’t know how important it was to her until now.
Those letters she sent in my childhood days would stay with me until I forgot about them, then my mother would throw them away. None of them survived Mama’s tidy house keeping. Only the memories of the letters remain and I remember how they smelled. I do have the last Christmas card my Grandmother sent me. Every Christmas I get it out and put it with the new ones; along with some other cards and letters from people I still love who are now beyond Jordan.
Today, I prefer the word processor for my writing. With a script font that is close to my own handwriting and that precious backspace, I can complete a letter. I recognize that it isn’t as personal as a ballpoint pen, but I’ve eliminated the review and toss part of the process. For some reason, putting pen to paper involves so much emotion. No wonder my grandmother’s love poured off the pages of her letters.
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