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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Writing a Letter (handwritten correspondence) (10/21/10)

TITLE: Personal Connections
By Charla Diehl


The wind blew cold and angry gusts against the window panes, rattling them like shaky hands balancing a stack of tea cups. Kayanne watched the autumn leaves surrender to the weather as they swirled to the sleeping lawn. She pulled her woolen sweater a bit tighter across her chest and seated herself at the desk crafted by her father decades ago. The memory of him softly whistling as he worked in his shop chased away the drafty currents that lingered in every room of the old farmhouse. Pulling the desk top down she retrieved a sheet of lined stationary, reached for her favorite cartridge ink pen and began to “talk” with her dad who now resided at an adult care home.
. . .and Dad, here’s a picture of little Ellie, the newest “great” in our family tree. I’ll bring more photos when I come visit. Signing with love and hugs, Kayanne folded the letter but not before tucking a decaf coffee bag inside. This was her signature way of saying, “Let’s visit over a cup of coffee.” Every thoughtful letter contained either a tea bag, coffee bag or a pouch of cocoa, depending on her recipient.

Kayanne shared her and John’s life in ordinary circumstances and through memorable events as she faithfully kept in touch with her children, grandchildren, brothers, sisters and her dad. Most of her siblings still lived in or near Millbrook, the small community she used to call home. John’s job offer early in their marriage took them away from the familiarity of the lovely town nestled among the gently rolling landscapes of her birth.

In younger years her letters told of her new surroundings, new friendships, and how much she missed her family. Later ones exploded with joy at the births of Anna and Katie, and successive correspondence kept everyone up to speed on their individual progress.
. . .Gotta go Sis. Anna wants to help get Katie from her crib--guess naptime is over.
Often her family would send a group letter back just for fun. These two-cup letters would send Kayanne to the kitchen to brew up a pot of tea as she learned of Jack’s fall from the backyard tree, Scotty’s talent for baseball, Emma’s ballet recital, and all the latest hometown news.

Eventually the younger generations began using the computer to stay in touch and even suggested that Kayanne and John consider purchasing one for themselves. She refused to give in to mass computerized emails or the new Facebook craze which she clearly did not understand. “You gotta keep up with the times Grandma,” her teenaged grandchildren would say. “No I don’t and no one can make me,” Kayanne would protest as Grandpa John chuckled behind the newspaper. “Don’t you see,” Kayanne said as her eyes glistened and she sat back in her chair. . . “Letters are personal connections between two people-- words put to paper by their own distinguishable handwriting. I still have Grandpa’s love letters from when he was in the Army--and every once in a while I dig them out and read them--and they still make my heart flutter. You can’t get that from a computer!”

From then on letter writing became a tradition for all the offspring in Kayanne and John’s family. Today as the summer winds blow across Lake Michigan, Anna is gently swaying in her porch swing reading a letter from her grand-daughter in college. Sipping on the enclosed peach flavored tea, she smiles and savors every word.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Catrina Bradley 10/29/10
This made me miss my mom, who always wrote letters. I still have tons of them tucked away in drawers and boxes. Love this story!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/31/10
I love hearing about how family traditions came to be. This is a wonderful idea and something that the grandchildren will always remember. Your story really drew me in and kept me wanting to read more.
Sarah Heywood11/01/10
I like the vivid imagery you present. Good subject matter and great writing!