Another workday over and I find myself sitting in the waiting room of my doctor’s office, running through the mental checklist in my mind of all the things I have left to do when I get home. This is a typical Tuesday for me. With my hectic schedule, I find that the time I spend in waiting rooms presents me with the perfect opportunity to pause, take a breath, and reflect, yet I often end up organizing my calendar and scrolling through Pinterest instead. It’s easy for most of us to let the days slip by without stopping to think about where we’re actually running off to (or for some of us, what we’re running away from.) How many of us flock to social media as a form of escapism, often reading status updates of people whose names we’ve nearly forgotten?
Technology, at once marvelous in its capacity to connect us to millions of people in a nanosecond, somehow also manages to create a wall between us and the people we interact with in the real world. This topic came up in conversation the other day when my friend came over to help me box up some books. We were both guilty of looking at our phones as text messages poured in from other friends asking us to meet up, acquaintances we had been meaning to get back to, etc. My friend mentioned that he disliked how often our phones pull us out of the conversations we’re alresdy in with the people directly in front of us.
As I set my phone down and rummaged through the shelf under my windowseat, I came across a box of love letters from my grandfather (pépé) to my grandmother (mémé.) I showed them to my friend and he lit up, asking if he could take a look at them. As I explained to him, my pépé wrote these letters to my mémé when he was away at school in Philadelphia and she was back home in Maine working as a secretary for the local police department. The letters span from the early days of their relationship to their eventual engagement and wedding. There are even a few letters written many years later, long after they had wed and their kids had been born, from the occasional trips my pépé made for his air force reserve training.
My friend was in awe of the number of letters my pépé had written, and we both bemoaned the fact that my mémé’s letters back to him had been lost (presumably destroyed in the basement flood that had also claimed most of my mémé’s childhood photographs.) Holding one of the letters in his hand, my friend cried, “What happened to romance?!” Here was a couple who didn’t have the luxuries of text messaging or Skype, yet they still managed to keep in touch every day despite the distance between them. Maybe they were the lucky ones, free as they were from the distractions of modern technology so they could spend more time thinking about each other and less time updating their Facebook walls. Then again, maybe they were just lucky in finding one another.
When I originally considered starting a blog several years ago, I knew that I wanted to incorporate these letters in some fashion. I thought about the countless times my pépé had told me that he wished he had written down the stories from his life. It wasn’t until after he got sick and the Alzheimer’s had pulled him away from us that my mother discovered the letters while preparing to sell his house. They were an unexpected and overwhelming gift; to this day, I can’t read them without hearing his voice and tearing up a bit. I haven’t finished going through them all, as I wanted to save them for rainy days and times when I’m missing him the most. I promise to share more in the future, but for now here is a little preview along with a reminder to tell the people you love, in person, how much they mean to you. You never know when you’ll get another chance.