The following and all of the other episodes to come are snapshots of what goes on in my head, now and in the past. There are times none of this will make sense. There will be times when I might get lucky and the blog I post will be well constructed and will flow like a mountain stream to an awaiting lake below. Other times it will seem like the ramblings of a madman and you’ll ask yourself, “What the……?”
You should probably get used to the latter.
EPISODE ONE HUNDRED NINETY TWO: THE A, B, C’s, OF THE LETTERS
“The proper definition of a man is an animal that writes letters.”
As some of you may know (those that have read every one of my blog posts), I like to write. I have ever since around the seventh grade. And it’s one of the biggest regrets of my life I didn’t pursue it with more vim and vigor in my twenties (and thirties). I never stopped writing or thinking about writing but putting actual words to the page didn’t happen enough.
But I find myself writing now with a certain passion. Or, dare I say, a near foreboding that time is short and I better spill the things I want to say before that door is shut for good. I love my fiction writing (short stories and the longer form stories) and I love writing this blog. It all has something with wanting to leave something, a marker if you will, that I existed and that I had thoughts and feelings (and a bit of creative talent) to give to the world. There won’t be monuments or a building erected in my name for my written accomplishments, but if I can get someone after I have slipped my wind (look it up) to say ‘He wasn’t too bad a writer’, I have done what I wanted to do.
The fiction I write is to express my talents (for better or worse). The blog posts are about trying to help alleviate depression and promote inspiration (in others and myself).
And then… there is the letter writing.
The first letter I ever wrote was one I sent to my parents when I was in the sixth grade and the whole grade went to Land Between the Lakes (or simply known as LBL). The first day there I had the worst case of homesickness and wanted to leave immediately. But I got over it pretty quick when the cute nurse brought me a Coke.
Now, this letter (I think I have it in my mom’s personal belongings that she left me after she passed) wasn’t written very well. My spelling was atrocious and my handwriting was appalling. I asked about our cat and dog and asked if we could get Pizza Hut when I got back. And, of course, I told them I loved them and missed them.
Without knowing it for decades, that simple letter planted a seed.
The next time I wrote a letter to a girl.
You know, ‘If you like, check the box that says YES’.
I never saw that letter again. In the trash… two points.
And then there was high school and a girl there that became my girlfriend for a long time. We wrote to each other (both my handwriting and spelling were still lousy but she didn’t seem to mind) and passed the letters as we passed each other in the hall.
Then, later on, I had friends that lived states away and I happily wrote letters.
They did not. I got one or two back and I was kicking up my heels when I got these wonderful anomalies and after reading them, I would immediately write them back. They saw the glitch in the Matrix and knew that I would write back as soon as I got theirs and realized that was too much dedication for this sucker.
The letters ceased.
After that failed experiment, the letters died.
Two decades later, my father followed those letters.
It was after he passed, I found out when he was younger and away from his family in another state or in the military, he wrote them letters. And guess what? They wrote him back.
I got to read a few of those he wrote and it made me miss him even more. I thought about him sitting down at his desk or dining room table or anywhere he could get a level and flat place to put pen to paper or keep his typewriter balanced long enough to spit out a couple of pages.
I wondered after I read his letters if he thought what I did. Did he think about leaving behind some words for future prosperity?
Did he leave behind those words for me to read after he was gone?
It reminded me of that letter I wrote to him and my mom when I was trying to get over that gnawing homesickness from LBL. I had that and my blog post (this blog post) jumbling around in my head along with thoughts of my typewriters and…
… I knew I had to add a different kind of writing to my life.
Loyd’s Letters of Affirmation.
I decided I wanted to sit down and write to people I knew and tell them how they have positively impacted my life. There would be no posted it online or talking about it to the world (other than this single blog post). It would be a one-on-one letter where I spill my guys and feelings and tell this particular person that I’m writing to how much I care about them and to thank them for adding some positivity to my life.
But, of course, I wasn’t going to handwrite them (my handwriting is still h-o-r-r-i-b-l-e). I decided to alternate my writing on different typewriters and tell them the model and year of the machine. If I know some of the histories of it, I add that, too.
It’s been fun. And soul healing. I know it has been for mine. Maybe even for them.
Before e-mails and texts and phone calls, this is the way it was done. When you put pen to paper (with those with much better handwriting) or use the click and clack of a typewriter and tattoo letters into the paper, it seems to mean more. It isn’t a quick text and hitting send. When you actually sit down and write, you have to think about it before you do. You want to make the letter as perfect as possible and there is no delete key. The subject and the thoughts have to be turned over in your mind for a time to get the letter just right.
The person is being thought about.
Isn’t that a wonderful thought?
I have written about three dozen letters to people and plan on more. I want these people to know that they have impacted my life for the positive. It might have been something as simple as a kind word at the right time or a lifetime of friendship. It’s all worthy. And I want each and every one of them to know.
Time is short. If I’m lucky enough to call 50 middle age, I’m almost there.
But as you know, there are no guarantees. One minute we’re here and the next……..
I chose to type my letters. If you have a working typewriter, give it a shot. Or if you have beautiful to descent handwriting, pull out a good pen (pencil writing fades over time) and some good paper (or some of your child’s notebook paper… YOU BOUGHT IT) and pen a letter to somebody.
Tell someone what big thing or little thing they did for you that gave you hope, that helped propel you forward, that showed you light in the darkness. They’ll appreciate it.
Think of it as leaving a mark in this life.
Leave as many positive marks as possible. And then some.
When we got back from LBL, I told my mom and dad about everything we did (minus the crying that first day). I remember my mom showing me the letter I sent and I was embarrassed. I thought about the spelling and how hard it was to put my thoughts into words.
But she kept it. I had made a mark in her life.
Then we left the school parking lot and got Pizza Hut.
-Loyd Elmore Jr
February, 5th 2021
I’ve decided to keep a blog about how I’m dealing with depression. I’m going to consider this a form of therapy. It might not help anybody else but it might help me.