52 in 52: Letters

This week’s topic for 52 in 52 is Letters.

My mom and Ginny met in high school through a “Penpals Wanted” column in the St. Anthony’s Messenger.

This letter-writing connection started a long-distance friendship (Ginny in New York and mom in Indiana) which included visiting each others’ families.

When mom died in 1972 Dad wanted me to give Ginny the sad news.  It was from then on that I became Ginny’s penpal.

Some of Jenny's letters
Some of Jenny's letters

My letters to her were usually only at Christmas, although I did send her mother’s day cards from time to time as she called me her “other daughter.” She’d send me long handwritten letters keeping me up-to-date on what was going on in her world and asking me about my life.

When the tornado came through our city in 2005 she called. Ginny had seen the reports on television. She called the number on the TV screen which put her in touch with one of the local hospitals. She was calling to see if I was okay since she didn’t have my home number. I wasn’t listed so they gave her a number for the Red Cross which she couldn’t reach. She enlisted her son to find me and he turned to the Internet.  She followed up her phone call with a lovely letter about how she was so worried about me.

When her beloved Bill died, I received a sad letter.

I talked to her again a couple years ago since her Christmas letters had stopped. In her 90s now, she wasn’t writing as much, but she was in good health and was doing fine.

Christmas 2009 I didn’t hear from her. I was planning to call her but never got around to it. This past December I called her number and got an answering machine. I knew it wasn’t Ginny’s number anymore. Our Christmas card came back with no forwarding address.

I took to the Internet trying to find her. I even looked for an obit. I found Bill’s and saw that her name was not Virginia as I always thought. But that still didn’t help me.

If I could just find her son Jack then I’m sure I’d be able to find her. I just couldn’t remember where he lived. Then I remembered that I had saved all of her letters! Since organizing this office/studio I wasn’t sure where I put them. Finally after a couple tries at searching I found them.

From these letters I found that he lived in a state near her and that he had a daughter. Then I found his daughter on Facebook. From her I learned Ginny is living with Jack. I talked with both Jack and Ginny for some time, so glad to find her again and to get her new address and phone number.

It was those letters that helped me to find her. I’m so glad I hung onto them. Her 95th birthday is coming up soon. I’ll definitely be writing her a letter or two before then. Letters are almost a forgotten art. Hanging onto emails would just not be the same.