Our daughter and I drove to my home town on Sunday to visit my sister. The conversation ranged across many topics and toward the end of the visit she asked if I wanted to take the second of two shoe boxes containing letters I wrote home.
Of course I did.
I wrote a lot of letters home and to friends before email became a widely adapted replacement.
The earliest letter I found was written while attending YMCA camp as a grader. There was at least one more camp letter, followed by a couple while I was in high school, more in college, and in every stage of life afterward. There were some recent holiday cards and letters.
We logged on to the internet from a home computer for the first time on April 21, 1996. As soon as Mom got an America On-Line account we began communicating via email. She had already been using email in her work at the Corps of Engineers, just as I had been using email when I worked at for the oil company from 1989 to 1991. Over the years I saved as many personal emails as I could and there are a few between me and her from the late 1990s. The last email I sent her was dated March 7, 2014. It was about putting a photo on her Facebook account.
While it seems unlikely the others to whom I sent letters will return a similar archive, I have their letters and what is turning into a substantial trove of documents, partly written by me and partly by Mom and my friends about what my life was about. Combined with my hand-written journals beginning in 1974, and 14 years of this blog, I should be well prepared to relearn who I was and what I became.
The question becomes how shall I organize everything? There are no good answers as new documents are discovered and processed.
Artifacts like the camp letter pictured above lead me down a path of memory I had forgotten. It’s about canoeing on the Mississippi River, about campfires, and summer free swims, and having fun away from home and telling my parents all about it in a letter. Now that they are both gone the memories are welcome.
Letter writing, then email, journal writing, blogging, and now texting has become a part of who I am. I believe I’ve become the better for it.