I’ve always been a big fan of writing notes. From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon, I have doodled and scribbled, eventually turning those actions into words on a page. I wrote my first novel longhand, on a yellow legal pad and several scraps of paper that were lying around in the recycle bin.
I caught the writing bug from my mother. I know she never realized her influence, but she was always writing – letters, thank you notes, lists of things we needed at the store. There were also the journal entries. She didn’t know that’s what she was doing, writing her deepest thoughts, aspirations and fears down in a little lined notebook she kept by the phone. She had this cute habit of underlining every word. When I was young, it drove me a bit crazy. As I got older, I grew to appreciate her need to emphasize her thoughts in that way. She had so little control over her physical health, boldly underlining every word gave her a bit of power in her powerless world.
In cleaning out some furniture last week, I found a letter from her, dated May 1984. I had never seen it before. It was stuck between the drawer liner and some old sweaters. My hands shook as I opened it. The lined paper was thin, her carefully printed words were underlined equally as precisely. I sobbed with joy as I read it. She was laying out all of her hopes for my future, as, at the time, I had just started my first “real” job. After the tears subsided, I just sat there, holding the letter, feeling the reverse braille impressions that her pen made, forming the letters. She still had the strength to use a pen back then. That thought struck me most of all. The memory of her with strength and ability had faded more than it should.
A few months ago, I stayed in a condo rental that had housekeeping service every day. Every morning before I left for the day, I placed money in the envelope on the counter. After the third day, I came home to a handwritten note where the envelope used to be. In tiny, scratchy handwriting, the housekeeper thanked me for my kindness. She signed her note with underlined words, “May God Bless You.” The words were generous, but the feeling was priceless. It was like a little love note from my mom.