Today I wrote an actual letter, on paper with a pen. I wrote to my mom in Minnesota, who is 93 years old. She is in good health and good spirits, but is hard of hearing. I talk to her on the phone pretty often, but I know she isn't hearing everything and she isn't saying that she can't hear. So, since I had something to send to her, I decided to write a letter.
I was sending her a paper copy of a blog post I wrote last June, which was about her. I hadn't intended to show it to her, but my commenters thought I should, and so did my brother and sister. (You can read that post here. ) I forgot about it until now. In my letter I gave her all the latest news about what we'd been doing, what her grandchildren were up to, and asked about things at the independent living residence. It ended up being two pages. I used careful handwriting - I have really quite terrible handwriting for a teacher. It was a pleasant experience, in large part because I was hoping to bring happiness to her.
When I was growing up, after the age of 6, we never lived near any of our relatives because of my dad's job. We lived in Wisconsin and then Connecticut. My dad's parents lived in Seattle and every week he would write a letter to them telling them all the news from that week. My grandmother also wrote a letter every week, giving us all the family news from Seattle. Long distance calls were expensive - we talked on the phone twice a year. Letters were the main way of communicating, of staying in touch.
Today, of course, we all email or text. Letter writing has become a rarity. Will all of these electronic messages become part of the historical record of our time for future historians to study? Think of the letters of John and Abigail Adams, or the Mozart family - dedicated letter writers who gave all the generations after them a priceless window into their time. What will our window look like?