Seeing The Writing On The Wall
I was listening to NPR on the radio a few days ago. They were doing a segment on the letters of Jefferson. His writings along with all our founding fathers were so eloquent. To say they could turn a phrase is an understatement. Of course, this led my mind to wander. I started thinking about how beautiful the actual documents and letters look. The penmanship is so perfect.
Something happened during the years between my older siblings and then Doug’s and my education. Teachers for a few years taught math differently, taught reading and writing different from years before. I remember very little time in those early years of learning cursive, working on technique, form, etc. To this day, if you look at my sisters Karen and Kris’s handwriting, also David’s……it is uniformed, slanted,….perfect. Doug’s and my handwriting look very different. In fact, I believe if a handwriting expert were to examine my writing, they would not be able to tell if I am left-handed or right-handed. Not only does my words in a sentence slant one way, then another…..even in the same word, my letters go both ways. I have a 4th graders handwriting. Oh, I don’t dot my I’s with a heart, but in every other way, well it is pretty sad.
As beautiful as my siblings writing are, it can’t hold a candle to the generation before us. My mom’s writing is still lovely and my dad took pride in his penmanship. All his writings were beautiful, but his signature was a work of art. Makes sense because he was an artist.
But what I came away with mostly after listening to the NPR story is that we are losing something very precious for future generations. The Hand Written form of correspondence. Think of how wonderful it is that we have the declaration of Independence, written by Jefferson’s own hand. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. All those beautiful letters featured in Ken Burns Civil War documentary. My mom still has papers with my grandma’s and greatgrandma’s handwriting. You get a sense of the person’s character. Their trials, pain, etc. What do we have now? E-mails, memos, texts. 😦 When is the last time you wrote a letter? I remember the last one I wrote. A few months ago, I had to write a letter to Social Security on Max’s behalf. The printer wasn’t working, if it was….I would have typed up the letter and printed it. But I hand-wrote it. It was such an anomaly that I remember it. I do from time to time, write a thank you, get well, thinking of you type card. But beyond that, my poor handwriting goes unnoticed by everyone.
I hope somehow years from now, people will be able to read e-mails from loved ones in Iraq or Afghanistan. I hope people will be able to read word for word, the great speeches of this generation. But it won’t be the same. It won’t be from the hand of the author.