Excellent article over on Sixty & Me on how friendships matter as we grow older, how they help us stay connected to the world as well as to each other. It makes the case for their impact of friendship on people “sixty & solo.” Can feel Mom smiling – her friendships, as much as family, kept her lively, saved her from cabin fever when she was house bound.
The article talks about the importance of face-to-face friendships. Allow me a shout-out to letters as the next best thing. E-mails & online face time have their place, ditto phone calls, while I think texting is anti-social, as weird as that may sound. But letters… They speak to the heart.
Ideally, they are hand written. When a friend sees your handwriting, your face springs to mind. They are composed with a thoughtfulness that’s harder to catch electronically. They’re tactile, which is important to the whole experience. They are personal & permanent. You can read them standing by the sink when they first arrive, even by the mail box, ripping open the envelope as soon as you spot the writing. You can reread them in nightgown & slippers or at waiting at the doctor’s.
Cards notes letters – each is assures us that someone remembers us enough to take the time to write, cares about & is interested in what we are doing. Balm to the soul!
My generation doesn’t write letters like Mom’s. We should start NOW. When Mom was cooped up in the house over icy winter months, letters from around the world warmed her heart. Mom cemented friendships made in her 70s 80s – in Bermuda & Florida, Los Angeles & Sydney – through notes tucked into Christmas cards & the occasional letter throughout the year.
In trying to explain what I hold so dear about letters, discovered a quote from Diane Lane that says it all – “I love the rebelliousness of snail mail… There’s something about that person’s breath & hands on the letter.”
Yes! That is it! When John would stride into the kitchen, all smiles, announcing, “You have a letter from Mim!” & handed it to me, I knew she’d held it in her hands, that she’d breathed on it as she wrote, that she carefully folded it, tucked it in the envelope & addressed it from her to me. My sister & I did not do well face-to-face or even over the phone, but via the US Mail we did just fine. I know exactly where my treasure trove of those cards & notes are tucked, each priceless to me, since there can be no more. But whenever I see one, I am holding something she held. Priceless connection.
I love the idea that you can put marks on a page & send it off, and two days later, someone laughs somewhere else in the world. ~ David Nicholls ~