The Handwritten Quilt of Memories


Old shoe boxes in attics, bottom desk drawers,
top shelves of closets, scrapbooks, and antique trunks in basements. Tucked away in these unassuming places are
keepsakes from loved ones, family, and friends. They are the handwritten cards and letters,
and when found years later, they can be the warm quilt that envelops you when you didn’t
realize just how the passage of time had put a layer of frost on a pumpkin patch of memories. I believe there is still merit and gratification
in sending and receiving cards and letters the old-fashioned way–with pen and paper–delivered
by heart and hand! In any given home, discoveries of keepsakes
can transport you instantly to a different time and place, and remind you how things
change, including yourself. They are old love letters from your husband
of 50 years declaring his devotion, recipe cards written four generations ago by your
great grandmother that you are named after, cards handmade by your first grader who is
now a woman teaching other first graders, letters not so aged that you pray won’t
be the last from your son who is fighting a war. When held and read, these bonds maintained
through letters and cards can be a haven in a hurried ‘just-add-water-instant-mix’
world! It really is impossible to multi-task when
reading your first grader’s note! With pen and paper in hand, you are putting
aside the daily mundane chores, and putting down feelings that convey, in your unique
handwriting, words that ignite the emotions of others! Heartfelt feelings written that might not
be as easy to say or hear in person. Or appear as little more than a template used
in typed text. There’s genuine comfort in holding a letter
in your hand that you know your loved one was holding. In her book “I Love You, Ronnie: The Letters
of Ronald Reagan to Nancy Reagan”, Nancy writes of how important the handwritten letters
have become to her even more so after time. Even before his death, when Alzheimer’s
Disease robbed her husband’s memory and their golden years together, the letters brought
him back to her and a mental running chronicle of their 50 years together. She put them in a book so that others might
appreciate what it means to write what you feel to those you love. My first recollection of writing letters is
to my Grandmother. I needed to tell her everything that was going
on in second grade, like I was a correspondent reporting the news, or a new Peace Corps volunteer
in an undeveloped country! Sending her get well wishes with drawn hearts
and kisses that I knew would make her smile! Little did I know then that I would get those
very letters back 40 years later, recycling that smile full circle! I cherish these keepsakes, tying generations
together, that sew threads of handwriting and squares of nostalgia into a quilt that
will keep you warm on the coldest of lonely nights!