Reflections: Old Letters or Cherished Words

The box in the garage was labeled with the simple words, “OLD LETTERS.”  Opening it, I stared down at stacks of yellowed envelopes, some with slightly tattered edges.  Noticing the 5 cent postage stamp on one envelope made me smile.  Then I read the return address and my heart melted.


The letter was from my grandfather, written to me while I was in junior high school.  In his meticulous handwriting, I read, “We have had a perfect season this fall.  There has been no frost or snow but snow is the forecast for an early date. I like winter but don’t like to wade in snow…”  I knew how brutal North Dakota winters could be and remembered that most days Grandpa had walked to work.  “I hope you are getting along well in school as no part of your life is more important.”  Again I smiled, remembering how Grandpa would drill me about current events when we visited, always giving me a “B+.”

Poking through the pile, I found a flowered note from my sweet grandmother, her handwriting tiny and difficult to read. “I’ll write you a card to let you know I’m always  thinking of you…we enjoy your letters.  Pa is at the museum now most days 9:00 – 5:00.  We are well.  Love, Grammy.” The flowered card evoked so many memories – everything about dear Grandma was flowery; her yard, her perfume, her clothes.  To this day the smell of Dove soap is my Grammy.

My eyes fell upon a rather overstuffed envelope labeled, “Childhood Letters.”  I didn’t know whether to laugh or groan, recalling immediately  that these were letters I’d written as a very young child to one of my dear Aunts.  A few years ago, she’d found them and returned them to me. I had no recollection of ever having written them, so they had been a surprise to receive.  As a first grader: “Dear Antie Sally,  I can write well.  We went Bullberry piking and we climed some high hills.  I have music in scool. Love, Mary.” Okay, I didn’t exactly master spelling, but my printing had been really neat!

Then I saw a stack of letters in a very familiar script – my mother’s.  There were old birthday cards and letters held together with a large rubber band.  Although Mom has been gone over 15 years,  I still felt a deep yearning for her at opening and reading this precious bundle.  Perhaps just one. It was typical Mom; full of news, questions about our family, updates on her church friends….  It was fine until the closing.  She’d written, “I sure do love you all and miss you, Mom.”  As my eyes began to mist up, I whispered the words back to her.

The “OLD LETTERS” piled before me suddenly became “CHERISHED WORDS.”  In these days of electronic messaging, communication through the written word is diminishing.  I’m grateful for these handwritten memories.  Even Proverbs says, “a kind word cheers a man up.”  Stamps may be a little more than Grandpa’s nickel, but I feel challenged to leave behind some cherished words for those I love.


This month we are featuring some exciting and perhaps challenging books about “Words.”  We hope you and your children will be inspired to share your thoughts and words with someone this month!


  1. Dear Mary and Deni,
    I love to handwrite letters and notes. One of my favorite old letters is one I received from my favorite uncle. I received the letter 2 days after he passed away suddenly. As I look at it these days, it’s surprising how similar his handwriting was to both mine and my daddy’s. Thanks for making me think of this again!

    d. schrimsher

  2. Amy Smith says:

    I agree with Deni! I always look forward to your posts. Thank you for the warmth you brought to my heart and the smile to my face. I cherish my handwritten memories.

  3. Deni Corbett says:

    I love when you share your memories with us Mary. Can’t wait to share the books we’ve found for this month. Oh – and I’m so impressed with the penmanship.. Mr. Zaner and Mr. Bloser would be so very proud.

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