Sorting through a box of letters that I found while spring-cleaning the garage on Saturday, I was reminded, again of the beauty of letters, specifically written, carefully folded, addressed and stuck with a licked stamp.
My mother and grandmother wrote to each other weekly, from the time my mother went to boarding school aged ten, until my grandmother died, aged 70-something. Those letters chronicled their lives and mine. They threw them all out. What a pity. I would’ve loved to read them, a personal history from the 1950’s onwards, from two different perspectives. Now there would be a fabulous book. But they’re gone, those pages and pages of life, lovingly recorded.
I have done my share of letter-writing, letter-receiving and letter-throwing out and yesterday I read old love letters, newsy letters from friends, postcards from travels until I had to stop. I just had to. I threw none out, though.
They were all handwritten, some posted with stamps on them and handwritten addresses (various, according to which stage of my life they were from), some notes that were just letters, hand-delivered, envelopeless – under doors, across desks, under windscreen wipers. They all filled me with nostalgic emotion, from ecstacy to melancholy and back. I miss handwritten letters.
And how I wish that I’d kept them all. I realise that kind of hoarding may result in me living in a house with tiny passageways made between boxes and boxes of ‘stuff’, but I’m not wishing to be logical here. What a beautiful record they are, of lives lived, loves loved, hearts broken and hearts mended.
It’s just not the same on e-mail.