While moving recently I read bundles and boxes of letters I’ve written and mostly received over the last fifty-five years. That included childhood letters long since forgotten. Like the one from my father when I was eleven visiting an older sister. It was in my mother’s handwriting because he was almost blind at that time and she did all his correspondence. But it was his voice, his words, I heard from the page. And he had even signed it in his own shaky handwriting! My father died when I was sixteen.Then there was a letter from my oldest brother, a missionary then in the Philippines, praising me for my work as editor of a family newspaper I operated for several years. He said the news in that monthly epistle was so welcome and he would miss it now that I was going off to college. I didn’t remember that he cared! Recognizing how very precious were all these letters, I determined to save them and boxed them carefully for the move across town. But I missed it on one box. That one was not so carefully secured!
On most boxes I fastened the flaps and even taped them shut as if they were going a thousand miles instead of only three. But on moving day I was at the new house receiving while Charles and all our wonderful muscle men brought boxes and furniture to me. When I saw this open box of loose papers arrive, my heart sank. Oh no! how did this happen? Charles explained someone had started out the door with it and dropped it, had to cram everything back in. I stuck the whole thing in a corner to deal with when I had time.
Two weeks later I walked in to my Sunday school class to the sound of a sudden round of snickers and then silence. Charles had arrived before I did and gave me a grin. I wasn’t sure whether it was a teasing grin, an encouraging grin, or a bad news grin. Our teacher, Charlie McBee, cleared his throat and held out a neatly folded paper saying, “I saved some of the Graham family history this week.”
When I unfolded the letter (there was no envelope), I gasped. It was to Charles, William and Julie and me, dated in 1976, from my oldest sister Pat, a “bread and butter” letter after she and her husband had visited us. I looked at Charlie in bewilderment. “Found it hung up in a shrub in my yard,” he explained with a chuckle.
Charlie lives between our old house and downtown Cairo. And if he “received” one of those “air mail” letters, how many other folks may have also! I was appalled–and amazed–and very amused! Good thing that wasn’t one of those personal letters ending with “Burn this as soon as you’ve read it.”
But I was glad to get my letter back!
Letters say so much about a family’s personal life, a community’s history, the flavor of weather, national news, and thoughts concerning God, sorrow, happiness, bewilderment, problems, everything. But how many letters are there going to be in years to come? Have you written one lately?