Handwriting, it is a lost art. Yesterday was National Handwriting Day, and while I don’t necessarily celebrate these arbitrary “holidays,” it did cause me to reflect on how grateful I am to have a collection of handwritten treasures.
Few of us even consider handwriting anymore. Everything is electronic and cursive is so out of fashion it is no longer taught in schools. But to me, it is an artform – an expression of someone’s soul. And, if you have been lucky enough to receive handwritten letters or have pieces of family history containing handwriting, you know that it serves as a connection through time.
Admittedly, my own, once neat handwriting, has become messier as I’ve gotten older. I still handwrite pages daily and my mind moves much quicker than my pen, resulting in a form of shorthand that is nearly indecipherable at moments. But to me, there is something about writing things out – with pen to paper that heals me, it is a kind of therapy.
Perhaps my own love of writing makes me so drawn to that of others, especially those that have come before me. I’ve searched for and come to know the lovely and varied handwriting of those in my family tree – some that I only know through their handwritten notes and letters.
One such example is the scrolling, fluid script of Nellie, my husband’s great-grandmother. Her decades of journals, gratefully now in my possession, are a glimpse of her daily life. Writing of the weather, visitors, meals enjoyed, and the occasional historic event (such as the beginning of WWII) was her daily practice. I never knew Nellie in this world, but through the magic of her written word, I feel a closeness to her. You begin to see the cadence in the writing, to read between the lines, it is wonderful to be transported back to the days of the 1940’s and 50’s through her handwritten accounts.
The youthful handwriting: round and almost dancing, of my grandmother, Carol, is a treasured gift. She passed away when my father and uncle were very young. I only have a few glimpses of her handwriting – most of which is in my dad’s Baby Book. Her sweet love of her son is endearing and evident through the short passages written to capture his early years. She dots her “i’s” with open circles and is funny and observant in her comments – “20 months: Dusts furniture with doilies! Asks for candy.” It is one of my only physical connections to her and I am eternally grateful for it. Although I never heard her voice, I imagine it as I read her words, doting and joyful.
My grandmother, Jimmie, now 99 years old, spent her career as a Kindergarten teacher and her distinct, flawless print is instantly recognizable by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. We have been blessed to see her familiar handwriting in our mailbox every birthday and major holiday our entire lives. She instilled my love of writing. I fondly remember hours sitting in her home working diligently on writing my letters. She patiently taught me, fat pencil in my small hand and lined paper before me. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world to have my very own teacher in my grandmother. There was no bigger compliment than her saying how lovely my handwriting was!
How blessed I am to know those that have come before me through their handwritten words. May you treasure the handwritten notes you’ve received and perhaps, write some of your own to those you love.