© by Lori Gagnon, February 18, 2012, Winnipeg, MB
Written at Seasons of the Heart Transformative Writing work shop, Winnipeg, MB
Because you loved me, I long to look back over the long meandering letters you wrote to me when I was a young girl. Your penmanship was a hard to decipher scrawling scratch that filled every inch, front and back, top to bottom of thin, crisp blue airmail sheets. Often, there were three or four of them packed in each blue envelope I received from your Niagara Falls address. You were my first contact with a free flow writer. You wrote straight from your heart to the page, no worries about spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Your sentences often meandered for over a page. How magically wonderful!
You probably never knew what those letters meant to a young girl who felt inadequate in so many ways. In those days before cell phones, iPads, email, Twitter and Facebook, before there was even a telephone in every room in the house, letters were a major deal in personal communication. Our household’s phone was located on a table in the busy hallway between the living room, the front door and the kitchen. It held no allure as a private or personal means of communication. But a letter, personally delivered by the local mail man, that was an eagerly awaited for treasure.
You were my first and best pen pal. Like Transformative writing power notes, I would read your letters at least twice, once for my head and once for my heart. Sitting at the kitchen table, with eager hands I would open the blue packet. Then I would read it to Mom, a kind of requirement at the stage of my childhood. Private anything was not encouraged then or at any other time come to think of it. She would listen while she puttered between the sink and the stove, commenting occasionally, but mostly just giving her head a nod here and there. That was the once for my head. Then as soon as I had the chance I would retreat to me room, grab my favorite blanket and a flashlight and head for the closet. Enfolded in fuzzy green and purple stripped wool, flashlight held between my knees, I would sit in the dark and I would read your letter again, glorious word by word. That was the once for my heart. In reality, each and every one of your letters would be read over and over and over.
Do I now remember the content of even one of those beloved blue epistles? I do not. What I do remember is how they made a little girl feel, like I mattered, like I was special, that I was old enough to have a personal correspondence with an adult.
Writing letters back to my Grandma Doris was my own first experience of writing. I remember buying airmail letters that were paper and envelope all in one at Couton’s Variety Store. It was very important in those bygone days to use airmail stationary to save on postage. I would have a hard time containing everything I wanted to write to her in the confines of those blue folding airmail paper and envelope combinations. What a joy when I got my first real stationary to write my letters to her on. Peony pink paper with matching envelopes packaged in a folding clear plastic folder. It gave me the freedom to write as many pages as I wanted to, freedom to write until I had nothing else to say.
To this day, pink stationary always reminds me of Grandma Doris, my childhood muse.