My mother was the queen of letter writing. She wrote to my dad when they were teenagers. She wrote to him every single day while they were separated during WWII. She started writing to my sister every week when she went to the convent and in 1980 when I left Cincinnati to move to Texas to start my life as a military spouse, she started writing to me, keeping it up well into her 80’s until her arthritis made it impossible for her to hold a pen.
In 1983, after the birth of my first son and soon after I moved to a small town in Michigan, I started writing back.
I kept all of her letters and, as I discovered after my parents’ deaths, they kept all of mine.
This past week I’ve started reading those letters and putting them into page protectors in binders. What I’ve discovered is they contain a history I had long forgotten. They contain the thoughts, hopes and dreams of my young self as my husband and I started a family and embarked on a way of life that was totally foreign to us and then documented our lives as we grew into a family of five, deeply rooted in a military lifestyle.
When I was living those years I never imagined that the memories would fade. Thirty years later I read what I wrote and am reminded of things I’ve long forgotten….what it was like to move from Ohio to a border town in Texas and be away from home for the first time, how I felt about attending my first Officer’s Wives Club meeting, the stresses of Operational Readiness Inspections that seemed to come one after another in the midst of alert tours, TDY’s and check rides, the absolute love I experienced after the birth of my first child and later, the recounting of the cute things all three of our sons would say and do.
The letters contain who I was and who we were as a young family. You think you’ll never forgot those things when you’re in the midst of them but the years intervene and I’m so very lucky to have all these letters, so carefully saved, and containing, week by week, the lives of our young family.
What my mother started was a very, very good thing.
I’m not sure about the future of Facebook, emails, and blogs but hope someday my grandchildren have the ability to read my blog posts and hear my voice.
The letters have survived. I can’t help but wonder if today’s platforms will still be available thirty years from now.
I remember how you used to sit down on Fridays in you closet-office and prepare your weekly letter to your family. It is good to have a written history of events since memories don’t always keep the details in proper order. A friend recommended that I print out my blogs to preserve them. I have then iin a couple of binders. I was also concerned that my thoughts could be lost in changing technology. Now, I have a couple of volumes somebody can look through on a rainy day.
Monica, I’ve thought of that but so much of my blogging is photographs, I wasn’t sure it would translate the same. Not sure there’s enough ink in the world to print all the words AND the photographs!
Julie…we had a deployment this week…i wrote a post on our FB page challenging the families to write letters to each other…because they would be treasured memories and the words written in pen or crayon seem to mean more. Makes me proud to feel we think a little a like.
Great suggestion to your spouses and families Karla! All I had from Jim’s deployment were emails and once we moved beyond that computer and that particular email server, they were gone. Another great idea I once came across….to start a box for the deployed parent that the kids can add to whenever they want to share something and then have them go through the box with the parent when they come home. Some things can’t be mailed easily!