Handwriting is a dying art. It is one of the things that has been lost in the advancement of technology. Obviously technology, with its ability to connect people over vast distances, has its advantages. But the abandonment of handwriting is a sad peripheral consequence. For me, handwriting is linked to sentimentality and nostalgia, in a way that cannot be mimicked by the omnipotent computer.
I have boxes on top of my wardrobe that are my ‘special boxes’, or, as my kids call them – mummy’s ‘Oh No boxes’. They call them that because every time they cast their greedy little eyes upon them in curiosity, and ask to get them down, my standard reply is, ‘Ohhh no … those are just for mummy’. These boxes are filled with all my sentimental keepsakes – high-school journals, little objects, mementos and photographs from trips, cards and letters. Those boxes carry my past. There is something so beautiful about handling an old letter written to me by my best friend, or piecing together fragments of my former self in the form of the sprawled writing of past lovers. It is exquisite to hold these sentiments in my hands, knowing that they were penned by people who were, or are, immeasurably special to me. I do not experience the same emotional reaction from revisiting texts and emails … so much of the magic is lost.
My most prized possessions in these boxes are the letters penned by my mother. I lost her very suddenly in 2009, when I was pregnant with my first child. We were as close as any mother and daughter ever could be, or ever will be. It is the loss of her, and that horrific aftermath of grief, that compels me to write much of what I do here. It is the residue of her love that compels me to deliver myself honestly and bravely to the world through my writing and art.
I will never hear her voice again. I will never feel her touch. I will never see her face. I will never make another memory with her. My children were robbed even of the chance to meet her. They will never know her.
And that is why her handwriting is the most treasured possession I have. It is like having a piece of her that remains with me. I pour over these letters – some written to me, and others that were written to her own mother before I was born, when she was enthusiastically exploring the world with that zestful spirit I so adored – and it is the closest I can get to her. She physically held the pen, and put it to that paper, so I almost feel as though I am touching her when I caress those volumes of pages.
Handwriting provides a level of intimacy that is unique. It reminds me that my mother was alive. It allows me to remember that I shared a life with her for 27 years. Her letters are the most tangible evidence that I have to help me remember.
One day, I will take the box down from the top of my wardrobe, where the letters reside, and I will give them to my children. When my son and daughter are grown, and they are old enough to understand the whole story, I will give them their Grammy’s handwritten letters. I will do this knowing that those letters will provide an unmatched insight into the grandmother they never had the chance to know. And maybe, as I hold those letters in my hand – my hand which is so like my mother’s – and pass them into the hands of my children, I will feel like my mum is holding my kids … for the first and only time.
This post was inspired by the prompt word HANDWRITING, on The Daily Post