Friday, March 12, 2010

I Remember Mama

Looking at the most recent post on Everyday Correspondence this morning, I read an article written by Jackie Flaherty called, “Correspondence as…Memories.” The article is about the lasting value of letters and what their content does to bring back vividly the thoughts and days, the memories of earlier years. I will admit that I have not been very good about holding on to letters received, and most of them must be relegated to the lost and unfound. That loss is something I regret, though at this point cannot change.

But reading Jackie’s article, I remembered seeing in a bottom drawer of my desk recently an old letter from my mother, who passed away in 1983, a year after my move to Japan. So, I went back and pulled that faded envelope from its hiding place and sat for an hour reading, re-living not one, but three letters folded inside. They were the last three letters I got from my mother.

So many things unwritten in those flimsy pages came spilling from between the lines as I turned them over again and again. Little written there about her health, but the handwriting told some of the story. The last letter of the three reflected a hand that fought with the pen, not easily keeping lines neat, or letters fluid. Handwriting always neat and well-formed, perfectly legible to anyone had little by little become less so.

She wrote of hoping she would be able to play golf with her friends, and I remembered a hundred things about her and Daddy and their passion for golf. I remembered cabinets piled with silver salvers or bowls from the many golf tournaments. In one part of the letters was a mild complaint that her car was not running well. That brought back to me the times she had poked around under the hood trying to make some minor repair without the help of a mechanic. She wrote about the roses I had wired on Mother’s Day dying the very next day, and the florist coming right over with a fresh armful.

On the last page of the final letter Mama wrote that she hoped I was enjoying my work and life in this far away country, but that she was a little sad it had to be at such a great distance.

I sat with these pages for a while, looking too at some old photos, turning the worn out Kodak moments over in memory, smoothing the old letters and remembering Mama.

As James at Everyday Correspondence so aptly expressed to Jackie about her article… “Thanks Jackie, for your wonderful reflection on the lasting power of letters.”


  1. What a lovely memory and experience regarding your mother's last letters. Isn't it amazing how powerful they are not just for the things they say, but also what goes unsaid?
    Thanks for sharing. I'm glad my article that James posted was the impetus to this heartfelt post.


  2. This was a wonderful read... returning your courtesies, I hereby declare your blog a deeply personal and universal cache of wonderful emotions. Keep the good writing going... it's becoming a lost art. Keep it alive.

    Ps. Now I am reflecting about the last letters to my father... thanks for the inspiration.


About Me

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America