When B and I were dating, many moons ago, I had the chance to meet his Aunt Norma and his Uncle Delbert. I loved them instantly, they reminded me of my Great Grandparents and I felt like I had come home again when I was in their presence.
We didn't see them often, maybe only 5-6 times in about ten years, but Norma did something totally unusual for my generation, she wrote letters.
Every couple of months I would receive a card in the mail and in it was a sweet note, asking how things were going. I don't think she ever even knew how much her notes meant to me. They would stay posted on the fridge until the next note came along to replace it, then they would be tucked away in a box for safe keeping.
Eventually B and I got married, she wrote notes to me about heartbreak, infertility, compassion, I felt like I knew her through her letters and that despite the vast difference in our ages, we were friends.
As B and I finally had children, her notes were full of advice, old wives tales, and wisdom she had gained from her own years as a young mother. Some things were outright laughable ( put a bar of soap under the crib mattress to help them sleep through the night or some such) and others were answers to questions I had lurking in my mind. I appreciated all of her insight and her willingness to share with me.
In return I sent her pictures of the boys, silly stories about their escapades and my concerns for the world that my children would grow up in.
Over time she became more frail and the letters stopped coming. I missed them terribly. I missed my friend.
Then the day came when they moved her and her sweet, quiet husband from their home and into a care center. As their things were sifted through and sent on to new homes, some of those things found their way into my home, and my life, where I have a constant reminder of the people that I loved. A dresser in Pf's bedroom, an ornate, gold mirror in mine, and most cherished of all, a box of her books.
True to Norma's nature she shared herself through the books she read. Every single curse word was blacked out with a permanent marker. I would laugh every time I stumbled upon a black rectangle where a disapproved of word had been removed from the text. And most cherished of all, her thoughts were written beside the text in random places.
She would write notes to the next reader on the inside flap, telling what she liked or didn't like about the books, she would leave little comments in the margins when something touched her, or piqued her interest, or irritated her.
After years of her silence, it was like I had found my friend again.
Norma has been gone now for several years. I still think of her often. I hope she knows that I loved her and that I miss her.
Today, I read my friend Becky's blog and found something that brought a smile to my soul. She is a member of a book club. Each member of a small group chooses a book to read, as they read they leave little notes for the next readers, and pass the book along when they finish. I am intrigued, I really want to join this book club. But alas, I am a commitment phobe. It would mean multiple trips to the post office, and I seem to have some not exactly rational issues when it comes to the post office, I break out in a cold sweat just at the thought. Am I up for this challenge? *Sigh*
I miss Norma.