By Lee Scott
My neighbor, Connie, reached out to our community and asked people to send a birthday card or letter to her mother, Mrs. Rogers, whose 90th birthday was coming up. Connie knew that her mother loved mail and would get such a kick out of having so many birthday greetings. She called it a “Party in her Mailbox.” What a unique idea! Everyone I know loves to get mail, and it would be a treat to get a mailbox full on your birthday. So, I wrote a letter to Connie’s mother. I shared a bit about my time in New England, where she lived, and mentioned that she had a very thoughtful daughter.
This experience reminded me again of the importance of letters and about a letter I recently discovered amidst some of my father’s old papers. It was from my great-grandfather Frank Saunders, who had sent it to my great-grandmother Carrie. It was dated, Sept. 7, 1920, almost 100 years ago. The letter was written on the stationery from Hotels St. James, 211 Rue St Honoré, Paris, France. Why was my great-grandfather in France two years after World War I, and why wasn’t my great-grandmother with him?
In the letter he wrote about the places he had visited and the sites he had seen as he traveled throughout France. I could not understand the purpose of this trip until one of my brothers suggested that Grandpa Frank might have been there with the Knights of Columbus. He was right. I found a book which outlined the whole trip. The title is “The Story of the Knights of Columbus Pilgrimage” by Patrick H. Kelly. But the best part of finding the letter, is not just about the incredible pilgrimage, but the fact he wrote the letter and now his great-granddaughter, whom he never met, has it.
How many people can say that their written letters will be discovered someday by their great-grandchildren? We have all gotten so far away from writing letters about our travels and experiences. Instead they are logged in e-mails or posted on social media to be lost forever.
There is something so personal in having someone write a letter. It takes time and thought. Plus, there is the cost of stationery and stamp and finding the correct mailing address. But it is in this simple act where the letter gains so much importance. Someone stopped in their busy day and took the time to write.
As for Connie’s mother, she loved all the letters she received. At 90 years old, there is not much she really needs, but all the kind words were the best gifts. Happy Birthday, Mrs. Rogers.