The Forgotten Art of Letter Writing


I was close to my Irish grandmother even though she lived hundreds if miles away in the South Island.  We corresponded on a regular basis.  I knew the rhythm of her daily life and what took her fancy and she knew my thoughts and feelings as I grew up.  I enjoyed going to the mailbox and retrieving the little white envelopes with her delightfully scrawly but elegant script spelling out my name and address.  I keep her last letters as an affectionate reminder of who she was.

So now my grandchildren live hundreds of miles away in the South Island but the art of letter writing is long lost.  The change in modes of communication since 1980 when Nana died is breathtaking.  There are so many instant options now but the modes one chooses are perhaps indicative of one’s age and the age of one’s recipients and perhaps also the purpose of the communication. One must choose carefully and experiment in order to receive a response and maintain relationship.

Through instinct and a bit of trial and error, I have found that the best way to keep in touch with my elderly parents is by telephone and, on the odd occasion, by email, but it is only my mother who reads and replies to emails, even though the account is named for my father, which is a less than subtle indication of their pre women’s lib relationship.

Also, via purposeful trial and error I keep in contact with my adult children by texting or possibly the occasional email, Facebook post or phone call. Weekend visits are also precious.

However, I still haven’t established a successfully consistent way to build relationships with my grandchildren, all of whom live elsewhere.

If only we still wrote letters.  So this weekend I sent a postcard to each of them. Here’s hoping… They might enjoy the novelty and respond.


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