My dad had amazing penmanship. He told of the times his mother would make him stay in his room and practice for hours.
“Bobby,” she would say, “people need to be able to read what you write.”
There was a time when handwritten notes, letters and cards were the only way to communicate —even in my lifetime. Landline phone calls were expensive, email did not exist and messaging on a cell phone was not even an option. Still, there is just something about receiving a handwritten note in the mail.
This year I received several notes from Missouri Ruralist readers after the death of my father. They all came at different times. Some immediately around his funeral, others on Father’s Day and then the latest at Christmas. The best part, each one offered advice or encouragement exactly when I needed it most.
I also received several handwritten notes regarding Missouri Ruralist content. Some letters agreed with the statements or views of an article, while others disagreed.
Each time I receive a hand addressed envelope, I pause before opening and wonder: Why do they not email? Isn’t typing a faster way to respond? Who has stamps handy at home? People still use cursive?
Then I open the letter and kick myself.
The individuals who write these letters are from an era where the written word meant something. It meant that they invested their time, money and effort to craft and deliver a message. That message demanded that they take minutes or hours out of the day to sit in a chair and write down their thoughts and emotions. Then they had to purchase an envelope and stamp. They may have traveled to the post office in town or walked down the lane to place it in the mailbox. The message inside was so important, so strong, or so heartfelt that an email or Facebook message would just not do.
So many of our nation’s most treasured documents and best works of literature are handwritten. Children stop and stare at these relics in museums, quite possibly because it is a new concept.
Sadly, I think handwritten communication will go by the wayside with my generation and those to come. While I truly believe the sentiment, the verve and the significance of conveying a thought, stance or message using today’s technology is still genuine, it does lack a little character.
My dad was a hand writing type of guy. I still possess his encouraging notes while I was at college, his instructional notes on plumbing when I was first married and his commentary on Bible passages from over the years.
And just like my dad’s notes, the one’s I receive from farmers are treasured. They made my 2018. Consider sending one handwritten note to someone, it may offer just the encouragement they need in 2019.