“Letters are among the most significant memorial a person can leave behind them.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Seeing the familiar number on my cell phone, I quickly press the button and say, “Hello, Janice.” She begins, “Hey, Robert.” (Unfortunately, at this point in my life, I am always a little nervous when answering the phone call from one of my sisters). I am thinking about the possibility of bad news. It is part of being a certain age. Parents experience this when children call, and adult children feel this when parents call. Do you ever get a sinking feeling when answering a call from someone special? What will I hear?
Today, it does not start out as bad news. It is my little sister calling to just say “hello”, as she does often. The conversation begins in our usual manner regarding our families, then progressing into recent activities. On the surface it may appear to be boring, but for me, not at all – it is a great conversation! I am really enjoying this moment. Then . . .
There is a pause. You always know after a pause that something important is coming next. (I wrote about this in ‘Pause’). I am thinking ‘now what?’’ I thought we were going to get through this conversation without any potential anxiety, but, here it comes. Janice continues . . .
“Robert, I was going through some of my old papers and pictures and came across a letter you wrote to me a long time ago. At the time, it made a huge difference. And, it helped me recently, too. It is so special. I wanted you to know.”
Wow! There are no small moments in life and this one is a major joy for me! My little sister bragging on me. Home run any day.
Janice does not read the letter in this conversation, so I can only assume there is good stuff in there. My usual approach includes words of encouragement, expressions of care and to point out the specialness of the recipient of my handwritten note. If you knew my sister, you would have no problem following suit. If you want to meet her, read ‘Kite Flyer.’
I am extremely blessed. Many years ago, I was inspired to write a letter to my maternal grandmother . . . two weeks before she died . . . that changed my life – forever! This was so dear to my heart that I speak about it often, have written about it in this newsletter, and it is the concluding chapter in my book, “There are No Small Moments.” You can actually hear the story in this video clip.
If you want to positively change lives, write a letter of love and appreciation. The person receiving the letter will be impacted. As the benefactor of meaningful words, you also will be changed. Forever. Just as in this particular note to Janice, the influence is perpetual because the letter will be read again, and again. And for those who have passed from this life, a letter may be their most significant legacy. As a recipient, we continue to feel the loving support and encouragement from someone who made and continues to make a significant difference in our lives – simply through their letters.
I have been and continue to be changed by letters. One of my favorite pastimes is to regularly read old letters from those who have loved and inspired me throughout my life – some of whom are no longer with us, like my mother and father. Other very important people are still with me – like our daughters and grandchildren. The extraordinary passion I have for life is in part attributed to the these special people whose words in letters continue to inspire and encourage me.
I am absolutely convinced that this was a gift given to me over 40 years ago and meant to be passed on to others. I pass it on to you today. I hope you will receive it and pass it on to others.
“Thanks Janice, for sharing this with me,” I express before we say our goodbyes. Just a short handwritten letter. A few minutes out of my busy life. For what? To say something simple . . .
You are special.
You can do it.
I love you.
Not complicated. Not a long discourse. Simple words. Sometimes, hard to say. But, life-changing. Two lives impacted. Reader and author.
Who will receive my life-changing letter?