The other day I received a beautifully written, complimentary letter from one of my readers. She had written it a month earlier and mailed it to me at the Record-Journal. Since I always email them my column, I’m almost never at the office. Hence, the letter hung around there until some kind soul decided to mail it on to me.
I notice that most of the reporters, and even my good friend Barbara Parent who shares this page with me, often include their email addresses for people who want to get in touch. I suppose I should bring myself up to date and include an email address too. The problem is, I never look at my own email. Everything on our computer is set up using my husband’s address which we both have been using ever since computers have been around.
Yes, I have an iPhone for texting but mainly that number is saved for family and close friends so I would never list that.
And I really do love getting handwritten notes and letters from so many people I have never even met in person. I always want to sit right down and answer them. But what is the protocol? When someone writes to compliment you about something, are you obliged to write them back? Besides a heartfelt “thank you” what more is there to say?
Plenty, as it turns out since most of them relate in detail why certain of my columns especially appealed to them. I find I have so much in common with these letter writers that I want to stay in touch with some of them.
But chatty emails have their place too. Recently I heard from a high school classmate who does her best to keep members of our class coming back to reunions. One woman she had lost track of and for two years her reunion letters weren’t getting through. Then she remembered that this woman’s mom had the same maiden name as some people living in a nearby hill town and sent them a letter saying she was trying to contact this classmate.
It seems they really were related and the woman now lived in a local assisted living facility. Once contacted, that woman was thrilled to spend time on the phone with our mutual friend who was very proud of her detective work in tracking her down and emailed me about it.
But mostly, it’s the upsetting and sad experiences that people identify with. After I wrote about losing our youngest son at the age of 49 to cancer a year ago, I heard from two women who were going through the same sadness and denial, frustration and acceptance as I had. Both had lost sons as young as our son and both sons were also lost to cancer.
People are always coming up to me in stores and restaurants, introducing themselves and going on to tell my husband and me just which columns I have written in the past that appealed especially to them. These are always things that have struck a chord in their lives and some of them have remembered certain columns for quite some time.
All of us are happy and flattered to know that we’ve given a little pleasure to people whether we know them or not. And of course, I love to get letters from anyone moved to write about it. But maybe the best compliment I received lately was when a man from our church stopped me on my way to our car and told me, “I always save your column to read last on Sundays because it’s like dessert.”
Now, that was a compliment!