At this age of technology and fast wagging tongues, our houses are overflowing with old (real) stuff that we used to love and now neglect. That old grandma-ish shoe box, the lace curtain which can be turned into a wedding dress
(God forbid), the seashell necklaces that line our walls, framing our photos and dozens of hard cover books that our children do not read anymore.
I am as old fashioned as hard cover books and hand written letters. There is that old paper smell that makes the senses come alive. Earthy, ancient, old money scent. I used to love reading books more than sleeping. The faster I read, the more I learn. The hand written letters from mother dearest and siblings are priceless and I still have my love suitcase full of letters. The anticipation for a post office letter with stamps and all just warms the heart, especially when you are far away from home. When you open the mail box and a letter with your name on it stares back at you, it's a cause for celebration. It means, someone, somewhere is not only thinking of you but you are important enough for them to put those thoughts on paper!
I've coveted hand written letters since I could hop on a plane by myself. I was 9 years old when I went on my first un-accompanied minor journey. An old past time was to go through mother dearest's ancient letters from her own grand mother. In those letters were stories of a time that is long gone, when flights between Samoa and New Zealand were few and far in between, the letters which are dated and fragile. Paper might be meaningless but the words describing of life in downtown Auckland in the 60s and just the thought of this old lady slouching over the table as she wrote holds a very high sentimental value.
In continuing tradition, mother dearest used to write me several letters a month throughout highschool and university life. They usually started with " Faafetai i le Atua ua tatou aulia mai lenei aso fou" (Thank you Lord for bringing us into this new day), followed by the usual lecture parents give their children when they leave the nest.
"Try hard in school, say your prayers every morning, look after your younger siblings, set an example for other children, here is the money and here is a list of things to spend it on and lastly, be safe and make us proud".
She wrote to me until my third degree. I guess she figured I was old enough and that studying in London was not too big a deal like studying in Auckland, Australia or Singapore. I've received so many letters from people, even those I did not know well. These pieces of paper still hold meaning and were a comfort in times of loneliness and struggle. The writers are people that have enriched my life with their encouragements. One common denominator in most of my letters is God and my family's faith in me. In particular, I have an older sister whose faith in my academic abilities is still unfounded. I've been a thorn in her side since I laid eyes on her. It's probably that blind faith that helped me achieve exceptionally well in school. At the end of one letter she wrote:
Try hard in school, I know you can do it. I love you heaps. Your victory, your success is mine. So go to the top of the world. Never forget to pray and never forget God is there for you when you feel lonely
In continuing the old tradition, I told my special friend at the time to send me hand written letters when I was away at University of Westminster, London . Emails are rather impersonal and can be easily deleted but a love letter is something one can cherish and reread. I know of many mothers who still write to their children regardless of technology. Please continue to write. If your child is anything like me, they might act tough on the surface when they board the plane back to university or college but when they are homesick, they will slowly unfold your letter and read it again. Letter writing not only improves your cursive writing, it also tells your mother/child how well you write, your sentence structure, your very thoughts. My mother is much nicer on paper as there is no volume although the words still hold much power. So continue to write and wait for a reply. Keep your letters close and love letters closer.