Posts Tagged ‘missing grandchildren’

Dear Grandparents

February 11, 2010

Dear Grandparents,

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I’ve heard it all my life. As a young child, I saw only absurdity in such a statement. As a young woman, experiencing lost love; bittersweet was the taste of absence. Now, as a grandmother with grandchildren miles away, I find the cliché to be simply untrue. Quite frankly, absence rips your heart out when you drive off into the sunset— with fading images of grandchildren waving in your rearview mirror. My heart could not be any fonder.

“Stop whining,” you say. Yes, I have learned to deal with absence. And yes, I continue to make the best of my sad affairs, living so many miles away from my grandchildren. But, emerging from this awful distance is a new avocation—a peculiar habit. I write letters to my grandchildren—the good old-fashioned kind.

Writing letters is not meant to replace other forms of casual communication. It is a form of connection that is seeded in the very core of tradition: It is truly old-fashioned stuff. It is a way of not only connecting to your reader, but giving the reader insight into your “head and your heart,” as Thomas Jefferson would say.

Charmingly traditional and truly a lost art, a letter can be held in the hand, folded into special shapes that fit into special drawers or notebooks; it can be tucked away, only to be retrieved and visited again and again. A letter reflects the attitude and temperament of the writer. It reveals volumes about the writer’s sentiments, values, and logic. If eyes are the window to one’s soul, a letter is the door to one’s heart.

I found some old family letters dating back to the 1800s, and now, when faces stare back at me from dusty, old albums, I look at them and I connect my ancestors to the letter. And, I know these people. I feel like I know their head and their heart thanks to their letters.

Because of the very nature of letter writing— the process of penmanship (keyboarding), self-editing, and even slogging down to the post office—it is understood that correspondence necessitates effort, even to a young child. I wonder if this is the reason that children express gratitude, appreciation, and a feeling of importance upon receiving a letter. I think a child senses that a letter is specific … for him.

Whenever a child begins correspondence, he becomes a participant in the give and take of a relationship. He learns to be patient and thoughtful, and he learns the value of camaraderie. Once a child is integrated into a writing relationship, he learns to be generous with his heart and his mind.

For this reason, I am urging grandparents, and even aunts and uncles, and yes, all of you, to bring back this old tradition of writing letters. How wonderful it would be if children had a relative who wrote to them regularly because the child could learn so much from the writer. Letters can be models for writing techniques and examples and of how to write with one’s own voice.

Children would also gain emotionally from corresponding with a caring, loving grandparent (or elder) who shares their life in letters. Correspondence helps children gain confidence because they get a chance to practice writing skills in a safe venue. They are not being graded, so they become more creative. And then, they are motivated to transfer the use of these skills to school work. Most of all, children feel important when someone loves them and cares enough to send them letters. Corresponding with children means that adults, too, will hone the core values of give and take, and also enjoy the benefits of bonding in a unique and endearing manner. My experience is that writing letters to my grandchildren is good for my soul, and it is even better for my fond heart.

So, Grandparents (and aunts and uncles), here’s a good idea: If your grandchildren live far away, dig into your supply of colored pencils, pens, and stationery. Begin an epistolary relationship with your grandchildren. Your fond heart will beat with delight, and the misfortune of absence will begin to fade away into the sunset.

Yours truly,

Curly Grandma

Who is Curly Grandma? She is a real grandmother. When her first grandchild, Megan was around two-years-old, Megan was trying to distinguish between her two grandmothers. Mommy tried to help out by saying something like, “…Grandma with the curly hair…” Well, that solved the problem for Megan; Curly Grandma was the name.  Six more grandchildren came along, and they all call her “Curly Grandma.”

Visit Curly Grandma at her website www.curlygrandma.com and learn all about writing letters to grandchildren. On her site, get lots of information and free stationery. And you can even buy her book Curly Grandma’s Letters: Writing to Kids and Capturing Your Autobiography (Tate Publishing; available on Amazon.com). This blog and illustrations are not to be copied or reproduced without permission from Anita Bryce.

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