Saturday, August 25, 2012

Writing Project Reactions - Entry #17

“Mr. Brown, you come over here so I can give you a big hug.”  This was the response by one of the children librarians to my note thanking her for all her years of service, primarily, during my children’s formative years.  My short, handwritten card had struck a very appreciative chord.  I was a little embarrassed, but gave her a well-deserved embrace.  It was at that moment I realized the power of the handwritten word.  A verbal thank you is gratefully acknowledged and an email or text is considered a nice gesture.  But a handwritten missive, especially one that recognizes service or accomplishments, can have such a powerful effect on an individual.  As John Kralik, the author of “365 Thank Yous” points out, “a handwritten note just feels like sincere gratitude.”  Maybe it’s the age we live in where everything is measured in 140 sterile characters, dulling the magnitude and potency of what we are trying to convey.  Or, simply, no one writes anymore so being on the receiving end of some type of correspondence is a cherished event.

Soon after writing a card to my son’s teacher I received a phone call from him.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t home but his voice quivered while he left a sincere and heartfelt voice mail.  As I listened to message I felt somewhat ashamed.  Through all my children’s schooling, from K-12, I never wrote a thank you note to any of their teachers (I’m sure my wife wrote a few).  Extrapolating on this realization I wondered how often parents write truly wholehearted or commendatory notes to their child’s secondary educators.  I’m not talking about the quick thank you attached to a year-end gift, but a card that requires time and thought and genuinely expresses one’s feelings and/or gratitude.

Librarians seem to greatly appreciate a kind word, especially in handwritten form.  In addition to the hug I received the Director of another local library emailed me a lovely response to the note I mailed to her.  I complemented her patient and helpful staff in regards to working with my son.  She read my notecard aloud at a staff meeting and “they all had such smiles on their faces!”  She went on to say the library hears from dissatisfied patrons concerning fines and complaints on other matters, but few notes like the one I sent.  As I reread her email I had a smile on my face.

Not all the responses I have received are of the thank you variety.  A colleague in Maine wrote a very nice card in response to my post about my golf fanaticism.  He talked about his love of flyfishing, a passion where skill and art merge.  Not only did I appreciate his notecard, but in just a few short paragraphs I learned a lot about the sport.  But the most interesting aspect of his correspondence was not within the card, but on the outside.  There was a reproduction of two men casting from a small boat (see picture).  It turns out, unbeknownst to him, an artist, Dave Tibbetts (also an avid flyfisherman), caught my colleague and his friend in action.  He was able to reproduce the painting for notecards.  I thought that was cool, neat, first-rate, keen, nifty, and swell all wrapped into one.

Today I mark my three month start date.  I continue to draw inspiration from Judge Kralik.  In a card he sent to me earlier this month he stated there will be down days in trying to complete this project, but not to be discouraged.    He wrote, “Life throws us fresh challenges all the time.  But in the end you will have experienced something special you would not have missed.”  Thus far, he is right on the money.

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