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The Power of the Written Word

Once a year I revisit my memorabilia boxes. I enjoy looking through the pictures and remembering past trips and experiences. I realize that the pictures in albums with commentary hold more meaning than the shoeboxes full of loose pictures. Since the pictures are for me, I am not particularly motivated to go back and make albums, but I have taken to writing on the back of the picture the place, person, and year when I can remember. My children may one day look through these boxes and perhaps might want a few of the pictures if they realize why I have kept them.

But even better than these pictures are letters and post cards my mother kept and now I have. There is a letter I wrote from church camp when I was a teen. There is a letter I sent from New York when I was first married, and my husband and I took a vacation there. There are postcards and letters I sent to her while I was living in Europe. I have a few letters from my husband and cards that I have kept because of the lovely notes inside. This written commentary brings back emotions and remembrances so much stronger than just the pictures.

But the best of all is a diary that my mother kept for a few months during a very difficult time in her life. I was 14 when she wrote this diary which made her in her 30s. It was very detailed. She talked about things that she did with me and my sisters. She talked about things going on in her life that I had no idea was happening. Overall, I knew that this was a rough time in our lives but a lot of it I have just blocked out. Hearing her tell about events in her voice. Hearing her emotion and despair is riveting. It also brought back to me activities that I was involved in during that time that I had forgotten about. It made me realize how she was trying so hard to do the best she could for all of us.

All of this has me thinking about how most of us now do not do a lot of writing of letters, postcards, and journals. Since my mother was not a regular diary keeper – there had been one other diary of right before I was born and after that was fantastic but on both diaries that I have seen, only a month or two was written in and the other pages are blank – I feel that her writing was therapeutic for her. But what a gift it has been for me.

Perhaps we should reconsider just the sending of emails and texts. There are times when a well thought out letter or fun post card would be such a wonderful surprise. Keeping some journals of momentous events in our lives might later on be something our family might enjoy and benefit from.

Let’s write again.

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