Letters from Mom are often simply priceless. Now days we’d add emails, posts, texts, and YouTube videos. Beyoncé’s mother wrote this note to her four daughters for Mother’s Day 2015, “I remember slumber parties after my divorce, when we watched old movies and ate a lot of ice cream. I felt so loved and supported. The roles were reversed, and it was ME who needed nurturing.”
Writer Jessica Dimas penned these sentimental words to her son, “You won’t remember the way you looked at me right after you were born, or the way I pulled you up next to my heart and marveled ‘Hi, baby’ in your ear.”
I wish I had endearing letters and notes from my mother to read over and over, but I was in my 40s when my mom died and I just didn’t think about collecting her missives through the years. What written communication I do have, I cherish. Here’s a fun example.
During the summer of 1983 when I was living halfway across the world in Zaire (now The Congo), Mom and I shared a unique kind of communication bond. I was told mail delivery was unreliable so I never gave her an African mailing address. When others on our trip did receive letters from their moms, a few would read me their letters out loud so I could be a part of hearing from “Mom.” That eased my loneliness in not hearing from my own mother, but the incredible part of that summer sans letters from home was how my mom kept me at the forefront of her thoughts.
Postcards Out of Africa
Fortunately, I could send letters and postcards from Zaire, and guess what my mom did in our small Nebraska town? She’d zip to the post office first thing in the morning and look for mail from me. Then she’d hurry across the street to the Village Tavern and order a cup of coffee. Next, Mom would read my Zairian adventures aloud to owner Lucy and everyone else enjoying coffee and donuts.Here’s a sample of postcard I sent that summer: “Well, I’ve survived three weeks—a bout with malaria, a midnight cruise through the jungle on a packed army truck and eating canned sardines” (you can read more about my wild Zaire adventures in chapter nine of my Two Days Longer book).
My postcard almost sounds like George H. W. Bush writing to his Mum from naval flight school in the summer of 1942. “On our 5 hr. hike tomorrow my heart’ll be with you in the ‘docks.’ So drink a sip of water for me. It is our greatest luxury — a swallow of cold water. I think I’m really going to get a lot out of this place. Already we have learned a lot about people & discipline and tired muscles.”
Two Words to Last a Lifetime
Although through the years my mom and I communicated more via phone, I can still recognize her handwriting anywhere. Her penmanship on recipe cards, her notes on the back of photos. On one photo she wrote, “Your dad lived in this house in Clatonia, Nebraska. This house [and] farm building is not there anymore. Knew you would like this. Love Always, Dad & Mom.”
Recently, I ran across a classic postcard from my grandmother to my mom and two words caught my attention. Love Always. It’s the same closing my mom used on letters and notes to me. Love Always.
Of all the words my mother shared with me in her seventy years of life, her two greatest were Love Always. Those two words will keep my heart uplifted from now until Mom and I meet for coffee and donuts and chat nonstop in heaven. And maybe we’ll write some new letters and read them aloud to the rest of you.
Love you always, Mom.