While cleaning out my dad’s storage room four years after he died, I opened a file cabinet drawer and there they were: neat bundles of letters from my grandfather to my father. During my dad’s service in World War II, his father wrote him a letter every single day. My dad was the envy of his buddies, many of whom rarely received mail. More than once, my grandfather wrote to them too, at my dad’s request, so his buddies wouldn’t feel so homesick.
My dad was a carbon copy of his father—smart, clever, and kind-hearted. I did my best to carry the torch when my daughter, Erin, flew to England in the spring of 1998 to study abroad for five months at Alnwick Castle, not far from Scotland. Like my grandfather before me, I wrote my cub a letter every single day. Twice, I remember, I was in bed for the night until I was jolted upright by the realization that I hadn’t written her daily letter—so I hopped out of bed and fired up the computer. Erin kept her letters too, just as her grandfather had. And like my grandfather, I wrote to a couple of my daughter’s friends who rarely received mail from home and were feeling homesick.
The power of regular letter writing cannot be overstated. Even if all they consist of is the minutia of everyday life, letters maintain and even strengthen intimacy, no matter how many thousands of miles separate the sender and receiver.
Imagine being away from home for months, or even years. If there was little contact between loved ones, you’d be coming home to a house full of familiar strangers. It would take months to get reacquainted to the point where you knew your loved ones as well as you did before you left. With daily letters, however, there would be no such awkward period. You’d just pick right up where you left off in your last letter.
Of course, e-mail serves much the same purpose in the digital age. It’s amazing how quickly intimacy can be established with a few e-mails here and there. That said, I’d still give handwritten letters the edge. E-mails lack the personal touch that letters convey so well. My mother, who is seventy-seven, refuses to use a computer and keeps a large stock of greeting cards handy for the many friends and relatives she corresponds with through handwritten letters and notes. “I love that Grandma Sandy writes to me often even though I live in the same town,” says my grateful daughter.
My father and grandfather (whom my sister and I called Grampo) carried on the tradition of regular letter writing for decades after the war, writing each other at least once a week. I found many of those letters in my father’s belongings as well, and my sister and I look forward to reading every one when we can set aside the time to do so. As my sister said when I called her to tell her about the treasures I found, reading through those weekly letters, filled with comments about the weather, sports teams, laundry, and other mundane topics, will make us feel like we were back with our dad and Grampo again, experiencing the good old days with a new appreciation.
But most of all, we will feel closer, much closer, to our dad and grandfather, both of whom we dearly loved. Through their letters, we can get to know them more deeply through the way they lived their lives and how they expressed themselves. In truth, they weren’t just writing those letters to each other, they were writing them to my sister and me, and to my daughter and her children and her children’s children. What a gift they have left us!
Click here to view all my posts on writing letters and notes to loved ones.
Click here to see all my posts featuring my parents and grandparents.
ABOUT PHIL BOLSTA
Phil is the author of Through God’s Eyes: Finding Peace and Purpose in a Troubled World, a comprehensive guide to living a spiritual life. Who will benefit from reading it?
Anyone who is on a spiritual path, or wants to start one
Anyone who loves life, or wants to learn how to
Anyone who is happy, or wants to be happier
Through God’s Eyes won first place in the “Spirituality and Inspirational” category at the San Diego Book Awards on June 22, 2013.
Here is a two-minute video introduction to Through God’s Eyes.
• an overview of the book
• the complete table of contents
• the Foreword by Caroline Myss
• my Introduction
• chapter excerpts
• a sample end-of-chapter story
• endorsements from authors and thought leaders
Just click on the link below to download your free PDF sampler!
THROUGH GOD’S EYES PDF SAMPLER
Phil’s eBook, The Logic of Living a Spiritual Life: Supporting a Life of Faith Through Logic and Reason, is now available for 99 cents on Amazon.
Order it at GodIsLogical.com.
In this eBook, you’ll find answers to questions like:
• What is the cornerstone of a spiritual life, and why?
• What is the secret to liberating yourself from other people’s judgments and expectations?
• Why is there an exception to “Everything happens for a reason”?
Those who worship logic instead of God are only half right. Not only is it logical to believe in God and to live a faith-based life, the existence of a loving, benevolent God that governs all creation is perhaps the only systematic worldview that explains every aspect of life.
Schedule a Mastery Mentoring phone session with Phil to learn how to apply principles of spiritual living more effortlessly and effectively. Priced affordably! Click here to e-mail Phil for details.
Phil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent people he interviewed, including Joan Borysenko, Deepak Chopra, geneticist Dr. Francis Collins, acclaimed sportswriter Frank Deford, Dr. Larry Dossey, Wayne Dyer, Dan Millman, Caroline Myss, Dr. Christiane Northrup, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, Dr. Bernie Siegel, James Van Praagh, singer Billy Vera, Doreen Virtue, Neale Donald Walsch, and bassist Victor Wooten.
Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories. Click here to read unsolicited testimonials from readers. Learn more by visiting the official Sixty Seconds website.
Sixty Seconds was one of three finalists in the General Interest/How-To category at the 12th annual Visionary Awards presented by COVR (Coalition of Visionary Resources) in Denver on June 27, 2009.