Not long ago, I was sitting in my book room and paging through an old book in order to refresh the memory when a letter from Mother showed up.
Although I saved many of her letters, I hadn’t taken time to read one in a number of years and just sat entranced one more time while looking at her words.
The letter was written at 9 p.m., Oct. 13, 1954. At the time, my parents were still living in the courthouse and I was still an undergraduate at New Mexico College of A&M. Such letters kept me going through those college years and then through many of the other years during which I lived in Las Cruces.
In those days, we didn’t call long distance very often because of the cost, but we always found the time to write to each other at least once a week and sometimes more often.
Mother understood how homesick I was from the time I left the front door until I returned and did her best to keep me apprised of all the news she could gather and to reassure me that I would be home before long.
During those early college years, she also sent many care packages in order to keep starvation from setting in because she also knew I wasn’t particularly enjoying or even eating that cafeteria food. Yes, she spoiled me as much at a distance as she did when I was at home and always let me know how much I was loved.
In the later years while I was teaching at NMSU, she suffered a stroke and couldn’t write for several months. At that time, I would write daily and would try to call at least once a week in order to keep up with her progress. Dad was working very hard to encourage her to relearn her speaking ability and to relearn to read and to write.
We didn’t have therapists around then but really didn’t need one as he was a most patient teacher and would let me know when each bit of progress was made. Although he didn’t really like to write, he would sit down late at night on occasion to write some very newsy letters.
A quick phone call was made on the day I received my first letter from Mother after all those months.
She worked very hard to write one sentence and to sign her name, but she never looked back from that day forward. The letters lengthened, the spelling improved, and the vocabulary increased with each new letter. I could see the progress and had some idea as to just how hard both parents were working just to get those letters written.
Of course, as I read that letter written in 1954, 1 could hear Mother’s voice and could see all the friends and relatives about whom she wrote. She was also working hard to cheer me along because we had just learned that I might not graduate because I had taken too many hours of English. As an English major, I had a bit of trouble understanding the reasoning but turned that problem over to my mentors in the English Department and hoped they would win one more battle for me. Of course, they did, but I had to promise I wouldn’t take an English class during my last semester of college.
I feel sure I received another letter from Mother shortly after that to express her relief and to let me know she and Dad were behind me as always.
If you have saved a few letters from the past, you might dig one or two out on occasion to recall the wonderful times that were. I reckon such letters caused me to continue the habit of writing a number of letters every week.
The art of letter writing still lives among a few of us, and we can trace its development back through the years.
If you haven’t written to a loved one lately, you might find that such writing brings real pleasure to both the writer and to the receiver.