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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014

Don't forget to write!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Many of our western stories laud the bravery of our ancestors who went west to seek their fortune or to establish their new homes. Those of us who enjoy living in Vernon County are possibly descendants of a person, or a couple, who left their families and security "back east" to find new land. I am grateful to them for settling here eventually and have no desire to push further west.

But the real heroes of that movement were the parents who were left behind. The mother and/or father left waving at the door of their home in Virginia or Ohio have my sympathy. They knew that they would probably not know what happened to their loved ones for months, and maybe never.

In the earlier years of the western migration there was very little chance to send any word back home. Later there was the opportunity to send a telegram or give a letter to a wagon master who was going back for another group of settlers. But in the meantime the parents couldn't know if their children were thriving or dying.

During my childhood, my father traveled away from home on his job. Every night he would send a telegram to my mother telling her where he was staying and where he would be the next day. Since he traveled by train he would spend his time writing business letters, but he would also write to his children and brothers.

In turn, our mother would write him of details of life at home. When we children began to leave home we knew that no less than once a week we would get a letter from our mother including all the news from home and from our other siblings. She expected the same from us.

When we all reached adulthood we began a family round robin which continued for several decades. Now, electronically, our children and grandchildren are continuing this practice.

In addition to the group letters through the round robin, there are frequent individual letters, and many of the family members are on Facebook or text each other frequently.

I check my e-mail several times a day and have certain relatives and friends that I correspond with regularly. In fact if I don't get an e-mail every few days from my sister I call her to be sure she is OK She always is OK, but sometimes her computer is acting up.

Also I know if I don't receive an e-mail from our daughter in Texas by noon each day she is home sick, or is so overloaded with work at the office that she couldn't take her usual morning break. Because she knows that I will worry, she will let me know the day before if she will be out of the office for some reason, or if she expects to be very busy.

I know I am spoiled. I grew up knowing that it was right to write. My children are good about continuing the tradition and I rejoice in that.

That is why I feel so much admiration and respect for those parents of the past who willingly, or unwillingly, watched their children leave home to go to an unknown future.

How valued it would have been for them to have received even a monthly message. We should know how blessed we are to be able to stay in touch with those we love. So don't forget to write!

Carolyn Gray Thornton
Middle Age Plus