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Hand-written memories

Today, I visited my friend and coworker Kim at her house to talk to her about written encouragement.

“I started writing after high school graduation — the first time you feel like you have to write thank you notes,” she said. “And I’d get comments about it. I started realizing that people liked it.”

Kim has sent me so many thank you notes throughout our time working together. She expresses her gratitude in a hand-written way, and there’s a reason why hand-written notes are a big part of her communication with others.

“As a teacher, I had the goal of writing a note to a student at least one time,” she said. “So I divided it up and made a weekly plan of how many notes I would write. I hope it made an impact on my students. After my father passed away, the first day that I came back to school after being gone for several days, my desk was piled with notes. The notes meant a tremendous amount just that they took the time to do it, but I saw that my students saw the impact of the written word and how, when you formulate words onto paper, it’s permanent.”

And the permanence of letters is what allows them to be time capsules that hold personal and vivid memories you can hang on to just by keeping a piece of paper.

“Generations now and to come aren’t going to have the saving of these letters back and forth because we don’t write as much. I have letters that my husband wrote to me when we were in college before we were married because it was too expensive to call every day. We didn’t have cell phones — you know, the dark ages,” she laughed. “I also have letters he wrote to my parents telling them why he wanted to marry me. Cell phones are great part of technology, but it takes away from having the need to do that. I feel like it’s a gift.”

Two of Kim’s favorite things in her house are two hand-written recipes from her grandmother and her husband’s grandmother. These personal treasures are framed and displayed in her kitchen. She values the gift of hand-written notes because she’s experienced the long life notes have and how it allows a person to relive experiences and moments.

“I save every note every person has ever written me,” she said. “I have special notes that are in my bedroom, and I read them on occasion. The one that’s on top that I read last is from my dad. He wrote it before he passed away, and he didn’t know he was going to pass away. He wrote a note to my mother and my siblings. It was the greatest gift to have it knowing that he took the time to write it, and I’ve read it many, many times in the last four years.”

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