I've been corresponding with my grandmother for some time now via hand-written letters. It is an age old tradition that is cherished by the well-read of her generation, but nearly lost now in the virtual frenzy of the 21st century. While studying medieval history in university I had the opportunity to read many primary sources - often letters between loved ones - which gave us a candid glimpse into the ordinary lives of people almost one thousand years ago. Today,with hard copies few and far between, and our correspondences simply floating around in cyber space, I wonder where future generations will look in their own attempts to unravel the past. It is said that the internet is the way of the future, but as we continue to clean up our in-boxes and hit the delete icons, it seems the future will be sparse of the most revealing vestige of time - the letter.
Perhaps it is with such thoughts in my mind that I chose to continue corresponding with my grandmother. She has a long and eventful history, born and raised in Germany, she survived the second World War before immigrating to Canada. As a child, she would show me black and white photos taken in Europe in the early part of the 20th century while my grandfather told me war stories. She lives in a large house alone with her cherished cats, every room filled with articles from years gone by. Antique furniture clean of dust and mysterious boxes containing secret histories. I know that it is contrary to her nature to throw away such things as personal letters, and so there is a comfort that I gain from knowing that my words will forever be a part of her legacy, a part of her house so full of mementos.
When I read her letters I picture her as a beautiful young lady with dark hair, those black and white photos of her come alive, for her written words speak with a wise youthfulness that is not so apparent when I see her and talk to her. Her mind is as sharp and as sound as ever it has been, even as time creeps upon her body year after year. Through her letters, she has often provided me with words of wisdom and a voice of assurance while I've taken difficult steps in my own life. I know our letters provide a mutual and reciprocating comfort, and I smile when I think of her opening my letters with excitement, as I do when I open hers.
Lately I've been rather anxious, ready to take the next step in my life and move on again. I've found it hard to enjoy the moment, to enjoy the everyday things. As if she was reading my mind, the last letter that my grandmother sent me included the following words:
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things."
I'm going to do my best to take her advice.