It’s overnight camp season for our grandchildren and I find myself seated at the kitchen table, not tapping on my phone, not typing on my laptop, but sitting with an old fashioned postcard from Cape Cod in front on me. I pick up a pen and consider what to write on the tiny space allotted. Oh, my handwriting is not what it used to be!
I consider the tiny space that I have to write. Should I use tiny block letters and say more or should I use big bold letters that the kids can read with ease? What can I possibly say in two or three short sentences that will interest the kids, who read in haste during their rest period?
Tell about my day? Ask them questions about their days? I try to squeeze it all into the postcard. The General Store provides me with interesting stamps, and I hope that the kids will notice.
My brother and I, now well into our sixties, are savers. I have a hard time separating from mementos. My younger brother, because he has moved a number of times, has kept various memorable items boxed tight in different places. He recently uncovered a treasure trove of old papers that he had saved from the 1960s. One of the treasures he found is a few postcards from our grandmother in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, where she would spend her summers to ease her hay fever.
I can imagine our Bubby sitting on the front porch of her rooming house in the mountains, wearing a cotton print house dress, picking up her pen and thinking the same question that I consider now. What shall I write to my grandchild? The answer she gives is clear. In her large wavering script that looped sideways across the page, she delivered two messages, that we should be good children and most importantly, that she loved us.
Perhaps I shouldn’t struggle to find the right words to write to my grandchildren. Perhaps the message that I want them to receive is what my own Bubby wrote, simply that I love them.
The art of writing postcards is becoming a lost art. We tap text messages many times a day and those messages are seen immediately. Smiling and heart emojis are convenient ways to express our love and emotions. But there is something special about receiving a letter or a postcard, something that a cannot be compared to receiving a text or an email. There is the excitement of seeing a letter among the junk mail, to opening the envelope, to reading the return address, seeing the chosen stationary and perhaps, most importantly, to see the handwriting of the writer. Our handwriting is an identifier, not unlike fingerprints or our smiles and with that handwriting, a little bit of the writer appears, despite the the years that have passed.
When I see my grandmother’s postcard and letters, I can clearly remember her physical self through her handwriting. I can almost hear her whispery voice (hay fever!) calling our names as she sat on that front porch. And despite the fact that she has been gone for so many years, I still know that she loved us. Isn’t that a treasure well worth a postcard?
I know what I will write to my grandchildren when I take my postcards out today. I will write simply and in clear block letters. I will write that I love them and I hope that they will save that postcard and look back at it someday in the future and even make note of the stamp and the stamp of the date and time. I hope that they will remember Cape Cod, good times and love.