This is my mother, Jeanne (right), who lives in Kansas City. By her side is Jennifer (left), who lives in England. These two have been pen pals for about 53 years. Until two weeks ago, they had never met each other in person.
When they were both of elementary school age, they started writing to each other as part of pen pal programs in Girl Scouts (for Jeanne here in the US) and Girl Guides (in South Africa where Jennifer grew up). Through the years, they have continued to send handwritten letters, apprising each other of their lives: their growing families, careers (both are teachers), vacations (or “holidays”), and so on.
Then last year, Jennifer informed Jeanne of her hopes to visit her in Kansas City. It was only then that they first used the rapid correspondance of email with each other in order to help organize her visit this summer.
To make a long story short, they had a lovely time reminiscing, getting to know each other in person, visiting the sites of Kansas City, and for Jennifer getting to know our family. Both feel it was a blessing to meet after all these years but a week was much too short a time. So now it is my mother’s turn to visit her friend in England.
In the digital, social-network era, is letter writing dead? By looking at how meaningful communicating by post has been to this friendship, it would be a sad day to realize that it is gone; that we can’t slow down to reflect, write, send, and wait.