Still to this day, I can’t stand in the checkout line at the grocery and not be immediately taken back to my mailbox growing up. As soon as that spicy spearmint hits my nose, my heart beats with anticipation. Even now, at 34, when she is long past able to write to me; that minty smell fills my mind with thoughts of Grandma Nancy...
I was a Navy brat growing up, and while most of my tender years were spent in Bremerton, WA, all of them were spent away from our home in Indiana. My grandma lived in a constant state of denial about this, because she had us spend every summer with her in Indiana, every other month during the school year she would fly out to be with us, and once a week we would receive a handwritten letter with 2 sticks of spearmint gum taped to the bottom. It’s these letters that created a heart in me, for snail mail.
Grandma Nancy’s letters were always full of questions and fun stories about what was happening in Indiana. They would be full of the plans she was making for summer, what our friends on the block were doing in our absence, and when she would see us again. They were bright sunny spots on the rainy days of winter in the Pacific Northwest. It was never lost on me that she took this time to make sure she knew we were loved, thought of, and anticipated.
And every single one of them came with two sticks of spearmint gum.
Fast forward to 6th grade when we moved back to Indiana and the letters stopped - mostly because at that time we were living with her. I remember a few weeks after moving that I was missing those letters in the mail. Still to this day I find myself bracing for the smell of spearmint as I walk to my own mailbox, knowing full well that those days are behind her…behind me too. I wish so much that I would have had the thought to save them up in a box somewhere, but 8 year olds hardly consider the value of such things in those moments.
I’m thankful for my grandmother in so many ways. She was a force of nature. She stood the gap for me time and again as I grew. But the thing I remember most about my life with Grandma Nancy, even if now she cannot remember them herself, was her beautiful cursive handwriting on those letters and the smell of spearmint wafting out of my childhood mailbox; and how incredibly loved both those things always made me feel.
You’ll never know the lasting impact your handwritten note (and maybe a stick of gum) might have on a person’s life.
Write On, Friends.