Write Your Mom
I've been editing this magazine (or some version of it) for nearly 20 years and I've written a lot of these notes over that time, but my best one was done in may 1993.
It was my first crack at writing the Editor's Note, taking the reins over from Dan Ryan, the previous editor of New Hampshire Editions (as we were called back then) and finally getting to leave my own mark.
As I recall, I used the column to remind readers of all the joys of spring that were upon them and in a final paragraph I wished everyone a happy Mother's Day while blowing a special kiss to my own sweet mom. I mailed her a copy of the printed magazine to serve as a card.
I know she was proud of me and was touched by the thought, but I could tell when we spoke on the phone that she would have rather gotten a letter from me. I made a mental note to write her more often and filed it away in the recesses of my brain. I'm sure it's still there in the folder marked "Stuff I Oughta Do."
My mom was not a stickler for most things, but she tried to impress upon me the importance of writing letters. It was great advice then and even now, in the age of digital everything, a real hard copy letter sent with a stamp is still be the best way to let someone know you care about them.
It was later that same year, in November 1993, that my mom died. It was unexpected and a huge blow, softened only slightly by the fact that she had gotten to know my wife and meet my kids and was aware that I had found a job that I loved. And suddenly that silly Editor's Note I had written took on a historic quality for me.
Real words on real pages have a way of doing that – becoming landmarks in personal history. We remember them. They take time to create and time to read and they can be folded and tucked into boxes of important objects where they might even outlive us all.
Everyone seems to do a lot of writing nowadays on their keyboards and tiny screens. My iPhone will even take dictation. One of my frustrations as a parent of a 20-something son is that he seems to prefer to communicate through cell phone texts – easily the least robust and most uncommunicative form of communication since the invention of the smoke signal.
Tonight I plan to rummage around in the recesses of my brain and find that folder with my mental note, smooth it out and start writing more real letters. In fact, the first one will be a letter to my son. I'll tell him how things are going at work, how much I love him and I'll share some of the family news.
Then I'll tell him to write his mom.