Friday, July 27, 2012

Keeper of the Words

the prompt: A stand-alone scene, fiction or memoir, in 500 words or less, involving a handwritten letter.

Age yellowed envelopes with three cent postage. The pages inside are unlined, scratched with ink.

So many letters, from 1947 to 1952. An aunt to her niece. The handwriting in a tight, formal style, learned many years before.

The earliest notes passed along news of friends and neighbors. Bits of happenings of other family members shared from other letters that traveled across the country. Filling out the remainder of the pages with descriptions of weather or the latest shopping trip.

And always, “How is the family? The Mister? The Boy? Yourself?, I can’t wait to see you again.”

The later notes remain happy, still full of news. But, “the stairs are harder to climb.” Or, “I’d write more often, but the arthritis…” And, “hope all is well with your family. I can’t wait to see you again.”

Then came the letters in a different hand. This one younger, looser, rounder. “I stopped to see your aunt today. But she didn’t live there anymore. The landlord told us where to find her. Going to see her tomorrow. Hope all is well with your family.”

“I visited your aunt today. She’s doing well, but seems to have trouble remembering… Hope you're feeling better.”

“She can’t be alone anymore, she wanders off. She doesn't like it here… She asks about you. Too bad you can’t come.”

The last letter is dated February 2nd, 1952. My grandmother, Minnie passed away February 20th, 1952. Her Aunt Mina, also known as Minnie, joined her January 28th, 1953.

I have boxes of letters written to my grandmother from many family members. Most are from her aunt. She was named for her Aunt Mina, and there seems to have been a special bond between them.  I wish I could see the letters she wrote in return.  I never knew this grandmother, she was gone before I was born, but the amount of letters and pictures give me little look at who she was.


  1. Makes me sad... the longing in the older aunt.

  2. I couldn't get past the three cent stamp! Wow. It seems the art of letter writing is a thing of the past now. That is so sad when you think about it. Without these letters you wouldn't have the chance to get a glimpse at who your grandmother was. I enjoyed reading!

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  4. I would have liked to have letters like this. I imagine my grandmother had tons--from my uncle and from her family in germany. I have never seen any, though I do remember her writing on a yellow tablet with her small print (and there it is in my head)...nostalgic walk down memory lane for me. Thank you, Renee.

  5. What a great take on the prompt. I love how you weave a story out of the idea of writing letters. The ending was a perfect touch.