Letter Writing

No Regrets

Did you ever make your mind up to do something, go ahead and do it, but the entire time feel like it just wasn’t right? I know this could apply to a lot of things, and I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. (If you haven’t, congrats! You must really think things through.) If I didn’t just jump in once in a while, I would be paralyzed and never DO anything. I have a hard time starting things – I’m always so afraid I’ll mess up. So, when I do finally decide to just give it a whirl, it’s a big step for me.

Well, I did an “oops”. I thought about an undertaking for a long time (typical), and then just said “screw it”. Go for it. Something didn’t feel quite right, but then when is anything in life 100%? (except for the very lucky few). Thankfully, before too much “damage” was done, someone stopped me, even though that wasn’t her intent.

Enough of the cryptic messaging. Here’s the story. . .

Cleaning out my parent’s basement was a MONUMENTAL task. I won’t go into details. I did find a couple of boxes of old letters that my mom and dad wrote to each other, and another box of letters back and forth between my dad and grandmother. I decided that I wasn’t going to leave my basement in the same state as my parents’ was, requiring my kids to perform a MONUMENTAL task. So, I felt the best way to preserve these letters was to read them, scan them and store electronically, and then cut them up and use the pieces in mixed media projects, making note cards that could then be used to write new letters. Swell.

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A box of unsorted letters

I began to do this. I put my dad’s letters to his mom in chronological order, read one, scanned it, cut it up and made four note cards. Cool. I even liked how the cards turned out. I did feel a pang of something when I cut that first letter up, but I figured I was putting the letters to the best possible use, and in the long run doing my kids a favor.

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One of the first cards I made using one of my dad’s old letters

Enter my 28-year-old daughter. My mom passed away when my daughter was 8. They never really got to know each other, even though I feel they are some sort of kindred spirits, bound together by more than DNA. She asked if she could take a bunch of my mom’s letters to my dad home and read them. Sure! Little did I know what an impact that act would have on both of us.

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A stack of sorted letters

My daughter read through them in a day. And, you see, because my mom wrote in a “casual” style, her writing sounded just like the way she talked. In the couple I read, I could hear her voice again. My daughter said that she feels even more connected to my mom; that she feels like she has gotten to know her better. Wow. . .

I asked myself, “WHAT THE HELL AM I DOING CUTTING UP OLD LETTERS?!”

OMG!! My daughter is making a connection by reading old letters. AND I AM CUTTING THEM UP! I have a blog that professes the importance of writing letters today so that future generations will have something they can hold in their hands and read to connect to the past. AND I AM CUTTING THEM UP! Holy shit. What a mistake I have made.

Now, thankfully, I have only destroyed three of my dads letters to his mom. NO MORE! I make a promise here and now and put it in writing that I will NEVER cut up an old family letter again. Whew. It feels good to say that and make myself accountable.

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A box of sorted letters

I love the idea of using old ephemera when composing mixed media pieces. And, I do still plan on doing that in the mixed media note cards that I make. Thankfully, completing the previously mentioned MONUMENTAL task did result in lots of other old pieces of paper I can cut or tear apart and use. And, furthermore, I predict that I will be frequenting estate sales over the summer, looking for results of other people’s MONUMENTAL tasks.

No more little pangs when I cut things up. I will be creating art with NO REGRETS.

 

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