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

TITLE: My Treasure Box
By June Dickie


I have a box of "treasures", crammed full with letters, cards, and scraps of yellowed paper with little notes that recall special moments and much-loved people. Every now and then I browse through the box, and reread the hand-written messages, mementos that capture the friendship and love that bonded us together. It’s always an emotional experience, touching again the paper that left the hands of those from my past – some are friends with whom I am still in contact, others are loved ones no longer in this life.

My eyes skim again the lines of familiar penmanship, the angular, neat parallel lines of my Dad, or my Mum's busy script running across the page, as she described in colorful detail the happenings of the family. All the nuances of my life at that time are recalled – descriptions of Bilbo our Labrador going off to the kennel, preparations for my parents' holiday overseas, news of my sister's children having a cold, Dad describing how well the lettuce were growing in his vegetable garden ... all the ins and outs of daily family life, shared with me through pen and paper. As I unfold the air-letter cards of my Mum, or the crisp bonded writing paper of my Dad, I can almost hear their voices and the sound of their laughter.

My box has lots of other little notes and hand-drawn cards, each of which recalls a special moment from the past. There are many from my younger sister, Sue, to wish me a happy birthday or "welcome home". Then there are the "thank-you letters" from my nieces and nephews, with stenciled greetings embossed with gold pen. Their warmth reaches out to me, leaving me wistful for the exuberant display of a child’s affection for an aunt.

There are also little notes from friends. One takes me back forty years, to break-time at my high-school. My friend Pam had written me a note, asking for us to meet as "I have something important to tell you." I don't remember what that important thing was, but I smile at remembrance of our easy friendship. How wonderful to have someone with whom to share the little secrets of life!

I always chuckle, too, when I remember the note my university friend, Felicia, dropped under my door one day. "Please could you not skip in the corridor too early on Sunday mornings in case people want to sleep in." And the note from a friend, writing to welcome me to my new university. Jess had not had a pen handy, and so had left her message in red lipstick, scrawled on a scrap of paper. My sister Ann had also wanted to leave a note but was without a writing instrument. Ingenuity came to the rescue, and she cleverly cut out the words with scissors, the piercing of the paper representing her message.

Another treasured letter is from my aunt, writing to me after the sudden death of my father. She, too, is no longer with us. How glad I am to have this little mirror of her heart! All these notes and letters, written with thought and care, are as pools of refreshment reaching to me through the years. In their etching of black on white, their love and friendship is as a soothing balm. Just as a photograph stores the visual memory, so these letters from the past encapsulate the relational attributes. How glad I am for them! And what a loss it is in this age of e-mail and text messages, that such little gems can no longer be easily retained. Letters or messages are quickly written and received, but they are without the sentimental storage-life of my treasures. Lost is the opportunity to dip into the past and remember the little details of our happy intertwining.

Do I still write letters by hand on pretty notepaper, and pop them in the postbox? Will my friends and family have something to hold in their hands when I am no longer here, to remind them of my affection for them? My one niece was recently so thrilled when I posted her a card for her exams. Even today people love to receive hand-written letters or home-made cards. Perhaps my resolve must be to intentionally scatter thoughtful notes and letters into the lives of my loved ones, that in years to come, they too might have a treasure box to dip into, and to remember with pleasure.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 10/28/10
This is a sweet trip down memory lane, along with a great message. I still tear up whenever I see Mom's handwriting and she's been gone 17 years. When my kids go to camp, I always slip several hand-written notes that I hope they keep forever. Now that my youngest is in her Junior year of HS I won't have as many opportunities to sneak a letter in her luggage. Thanks for reminding me how special those notes are I think my college son could use a nice written letter of encouragement.
Joanne Sher 11/04/10
Such a lovely voice, and wonderful memories too. Enjoyed this very much.