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.
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.
That is an amazing story Lynda, so glad you found her again! Handwritten letters are wonderful. But Facebook helped you find her as well, so lets be glad for both the old and the new 🙂
Kristina, You are so right! I also subscribed to My Life for a month before I found her on Facebook. I was getting pretty weird trying to find her – afraid she’d be already gone.
what a great story!
Had to come read the story from 52Photos and I’m so glad I did. What a nice thing that you have kept in touch with your mom’s penpal!
This is a beautiful story. Letter writing is a nearly lost art. I’m trying to keep at it by writing to each of my grandmothers every month. I tried last year but didn’t keep up with it as well as I wanted. This year I’m doing a better job (two letters each, already) and I plan to keep it up. I know how much my grandmothers appreciate the letters. E-mail is so much faster, but you’re right, it just isn’t the same. Plus, neither of my grandmothers have computers.
I’m also trying to make sure my students know how to write letters. They write a letter home every Friday telling their parents about their week. By the end of three years with me, most of them are pretty good at it and actually include details of their week!
This is a very special thing that you’re doing.
A perfect picture for this week’s prompt. Such a touching and lovely story. I’m sure that over the years the letters have meant a lot to Ginny too.
What a Wonderful Story! Hand-written letters are a lost art and something to treasure. Just this year I started sending my college kids homemade cards .. maybe they will save them and treasure them in 50 or so years!
Debbie, that is great to send you kids homemade cards. I have saved a lot of letters over the years that have been sent to me. In fact, when I started using a computer I started writing them on the computer and then saving a copy so I knew what I sent them. In addition to my journals, I have a lot of sent letters that tell my story of that time in my life.
Angela, Thanks. That is so great to write to your grandmas. They can sit and reread those letters. That is so great to teach the kids how to write letters. What a great exercise! Those kids are lucky to have you!