Coffee Spills

What I hear and see and think about at the coffee shops I patronize.
Brisk. Fresh. Well-balanced. Occasional nutty and bittersweet overtones.
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Tuesday, November 30, 2004

A cup of coffee, a pile of letters, a few tears

We meet for coffee every Monday morning. Catching up on the Thanksgiving festivities at Panera's yesterday, I learned her sister had brought along a box of letters returned to the family by their father's second wife after his death, written by their mother. What a treasure to be able to see your mother's handwriting years after her death--almost like hearing her voice. We both had mothers who wrote like they talked. Last year an elderly cousin mailed me 30 years of the occasional letters she had received from my mother and it was like having a visit with Mom.

So my friend and her sister now have three treasures: 1) their mother's letters to her own parents written when the children were small--letters from the 1930s and 1940s; 2) her letters when she took a sabbatical from teaching high school Latin and lived in Italy; and 3) letters to my friend (which she had returned to her parents) when the parents had taken an around the world trip describing the sights and events.

What a loss we have with the transition to e-mail. Oh sure. We have the immediacy--my niece Leigh is getting daily e-mails from her college freshman son Brandon. But to never have the actual letters, with the paper they selected, the unique curves of the penmanship learned at an earlier time. What a loss future generations--and even our own--will experience.

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