There are a great many examples of writers, poets, philosophers and the like publishing the letters they have written to their children and grandchildren. These letters are, in turn, inspiring and challenging. David Suzuki,
for example, in his letters to his grandchildren spoke eloquently about their future, challenging them to be “agents of change” and exhorting them to do everything with passion and commitment. Rudyard Kipling peppered the letters he wrote to his
“dear people” with impromptu pen and ink sketches, poems and graphic descriptions of his travels in Europe, Egypt, and Canada. To paraphrase the great man - If only...
My letters to my grandchildren are mundane indeed by comparison. I’m not sure they are in the least bit educational, inspiring or challenging. They are, however, regular - and, let’s face it, that’s something to celebrate.
September brings a new year for two of my grandchildren and a resumption of my weekly letters. Grandson Jack has now left University and is back home, waiting to start a
new job so for the moment he doesn’t need the letters which kept him in touch with home over his three years away. His sister, however, known to you all as Hazel Bagel, has just taken up residence in a Chiswick flat with easy access to Arts Educational
School where she is beginning her three year degree course while Eleanor, fourth Eldest of the Tremendous Ten grandchildren, will shortly be resuming her medical school studies. Both granddaughters, like it or not, will be the recipients of weekly letters
from now on. I like to think I am doing my bit to keep the local postmen in work.
Unfortunately as I said before there is nothing challenging or inspiring about
my letters which simply relate the most exciting moments of my week. When, as is often the case, my week has not been the least exciting, then I treat them to the boring bits knowing that, while not seeking to be inspiring or challenging, I am at least telling
the truth. I could try adding an impromptu pen and ink sketch á la Kipling but then I would probably have to explain what it was, my drawing skills not being at all Kiplingesque. Which would be completely missing the point, don’t you think?
In this week’s letter to Hazel (Eleanor isn’t back to uni for another week or so) I told her about Monday’s Birdy Group and the herons we spotted perched
up high in a tree. I did pose the question as to how the herons, with their long, long legs managed to perch in that way - did they somehow fold their long legs beneath them? I used to do this when I was a child, curling one leg underneath me and sitting on
it. I am sure my current problems with my Dodgy Hips and Knees may stem back to this childhood practice and I am wondering whether the herons know what trouble they may be storing up for themselves. This is about as philosophical as my letters get.
Okay, I hear you say, how about inserting some challenging notes into my correspondence? But these two granddaughters of mine are totally driven, know exactly what is required
if they are to achieve their very different dreams. They don’t need me to challenge them when they are so good at challenging themselves. It has always been thus - as a mother, I was never one to insist on my Foursome burying their heads in their studies;
rather I was the one regularly suggesting they took a break, holding out the enticing prospect of a cup of tea and a biscuit.
Fortunately the past week
has been quite interestingly full so I had no trouble at all filling a page of random ramblings. A quick look at next week’s diary is not nearly so encouraging so, unless lots of exciting things suddenly happen to me, I shall have to weave a story around
the District Nurse’s twice weekly visit, the fact that our bins are now being collected fortnightly instead of weekly and my ongoing battle with brambles in the back garden. None of which, I fear, will inspire, educate or challenge.
I always tell my young pen pals that I am not expecting them to write back because I know just how busy they are - and never more so than in these early days of a fresh academic
year, coupled with a move into different accommodation, new friendships to be cultivated and ideas to be assimilated. When a letter from a grandchild does drop through my letterbox, however, I snatch it up with immense pleasure and can’t wait to read
all their news.
I save all their lovely letters. Partly so that I can read them over and over again (that’s the best thing about a written missive, don’t
you agree?) but also because one day, when they are older and making their way in the world, I want them to read them all over again and remember these days when they were full of dreams, when life was a challenge but one they relished.
In the meantime, I will continue with my weekly letters which will neither inspire, nor challenge, nor educate. But will always be written - and sent - with my very best love.