Writing Letters to Express LASTING Gratitude by Lynette M. Smith
emember how heartwarming it was to discover a collection of Great Aunt Tilly’s letters in the attic? To read them was to savor them; to hear her loving voice all over again, to feel her in your heart, and to send your love back to her. These days, what are the chances of discovering even your own parents’ letters? Unless you’re an older Baby Boomer, odds are slim. In most families, email and social media posts and texting have usurped that important tangible written source of family legacy. It’s highly unlikely that someday your children will discover a collection of your emails, lovingly written and printed out, tied together with a ribbon, and stored in the top dresser drawer.
Let me tell you a story.
Back in November 2008, at the wedding rehearsal dinner of our son, Byron, we were surprised and moved by his fiancée’s and his loving gesture when they each presented a framed, heartfelt letter of appreciation to their own parents. Each letter described what it was like growing up in the family, what qualities they most admired about each parent, and what values they had learned from their parents that they planned to bring to their own marriage. Believe me, when their maid of honor and best man read the letters aloud as the bride- and groom-to-be stood beside their respective parents, all eyes filled with loving tears. The two of them had come up with this thoughtful gesture on their own. We display our letter proudly in our home, and every time I read it, I feel just as moved as the first time it was read to us. Now that’s a lasting effect! And I can assure you, it will last even longer after we’re gone, because I’m confident our son will display our letter in his own home and save it for his children and their children. Through Byron’s letter, all his descendants will know more about what he found worthwhile in his parents—their ancestors. You too can leave such a legacy — for your parents, your spouse, or your children; for a brother or sister; for a favorite aunt, uncle, or grandparent; for a dear friend, mentor, or former teacher. How? By writing a heartfelt letter of
18 LEGACY ARTS Issue 12 www.paragonroad.com