When I tell people that I write my son a letter every day, most people tell me how nice that is... However, some people actually ask, "What could you possibly write about every day?" Well, to be truthful, I sometimes only write a brief note inside a funny or sentimental card, but that counts, too. So far, since he has been deployed just 2 weeks, I have only written 6 letters -- although they contain 14 days worth of news and chit chat. Because it takes a fair amount of time to sort out the postal situation as new troops arrive and other troops are redeployed, families were asked not to send mail for the first few weeks. Judging by the website for the families in my son's division, that won't help the situation much because I think everyone has mailed a month's worth of letters and packages in the last 2 days!
While this is early in this deployment, I have a track record in writing when we and one or more of our children are otherwise incommunicado: we wrote to our sons every day when each of them was in boot camp or basic training. Now, in addition to speaking to our children regularly, we also email personal messages at least once a week as well as forward articles or information we know will interest them.
Back to letters. My husband served two tours in Vietnam and some of the most moving stories he tells of those years involve mail he received -- not just from family but from complete strangers -- someone from his hometown, his church, one of his mother's or father's associates. Without exception, he and all the soldiers were awash with happiness whenever they received mail. He said the experience never got old and sometimes was the only thing that would bring them out of terrible funks. Each of our children has thanked us for the mail we send.
So over the years I have discovered that Moms (and Dads) have wonderful reservoirs and reserves of things to prattle on about. I have written and will continue to write about the weather, how the dogs are, the cats. We recently moved to a new region of the country and into a new home, so there is plenty to write about. I have also written and will write about people and things he's interested in. Rowing (crew), baseball, cars & trucks... um, and girls. Music. Movies. Television. Weird news.
I get to tell stories about when his aunts and uncles and I were kids... stories about all his grandparents -- both when we were growing up and stories we have heard about them when they were young. It's probably an unprecedented opportunity to pass down family history. Even new wives have the singular opportunity to tell their new (or young) husbands their hopes and dreams and friends, foibles and follies while growing up... and their visions of growing old together.
As for my son, I will remind him of funny things that either he or his brothers/sister or all of them did or mischief created. I can write about vacations we took. We have had 19 (and counting) really terrific years together and I want to remind him of all the wonderful, happy times we shared as a family, and the times he shared with his friends.
I will ask questions -- millions of questions. How's the weather? What's the weirdest thing you've seen so far? The most spectacular? How are the people? How are my other "sons" (the members of his unit that we have adopted)? What do you need? What should we send? Are you getting our mail? What can you tell us about your work?
I will send him news articles. College catalogs for schools in which he has expressed interest. Brochures for cars and trucks and electronics he wants to buy when he gets home. All things that scream "future" so that he has something to aspire to -- something to come home for.
I will share how I'm feeling, my commentary on the news, politics, the weather. I will carry on conversations with him as if he were here. I will try desperately to always sound cheerful and encouraging. It's still my obligation to be sure that he has nothing to worry about except his principle mission: staying alive. His Dad will write. His brothers will write. Aunts, uncles, cousins and many, many friends. Total strangers will write him, too. It all represents HOME -- a place to return.
Above all else, I will write how much I love him. How very proud of him I am. I will write of the past and the present, but all the while reminding him of his bright, shining future.