Last night I read Clip Notes, a post on the lovely blog of Debra Darvick. She took me on a delightful stroll down Memory Lane.
Debra observed that the decline of the daily newspaper has generally created an accompanying reduction in the number of newspaper articles we cut out and share with others. Specifically, she reflects on the clippings she sends to her adult children out of town.
She does it, she says, to connect with them. It’s more meaningful than sending a link to the article, she feels. I agree.
But I'm sort of a hybrid who does some of both. If I read it online, I copy and paste the link, but if I read it in hard copy, out come the scissors, envelopes and stamps. After all, I still relish opening a piece of mail that's personal, and as that event has become ever more rare, I cherish it all the more. I sense that the same is true for my kids.
About ten years ago, when we were quite accustomed to using e-mail for almost all our interpersonal correspondence, I received a lovely letter from my good friend Mary Jo. MJ had moved to the other side of the state a year or two earlier, and we e-mailed regularly.
Along with her letter was a clipped newspaper article about a group of (I think) eight women friends in their 70s and 80s. These women had been friends all their lives, and had written letters to one another over a great number of years. The article touched me with its poignancy, but all the more because I saw it as Mary Jo’s way of saying, “This will be us, one day!” (Sadly, she’s dead now—I had to kill her because she stopped writing me. But that’s not important right now.)
My mom used to send me articles with her letters, too. Of course, having raised phobias to an art form, she specialized in clippings of alarm. For example, "Forty-Seven Dead in Tuna Recall", or "Woman Killed by Muskrat Driving at Night." (How’d the muskrat even reach the stupid pedals?)
Overall I'd say her favorite topic, well ahead of how I could poison myself by eating tainted foods or how I could end up dead in a ditch late at night, was the danger of the IUD. Or rather, "The Danger of the IUD!" She loved me. She proved it with every snip of the scissors.
It was not as if I didn’t live in a big city, and read my own newspaper. I knew she wasn’t sending a ‘you don’t have the sense to come in from the rain’ message. As Debra Darvick notes, she was connecting. She was protecting me. Huh! She loved me! Who knew?