The phone rang one afternoon, and the voice at the other end said, “I was cleaning out my desk this morning, and I found your note. We haven’t caught up in a long time, so I’m doing it now.” After some reminiscing we said goodbye – leaving me with a good feeling about a connection with an old acquaintance.
There are many ways I might describe myself, but one of my favorite descriptions is: I am a note writer. Or, to make it sound more prestigious, I’m a “note worthy” person. Meaning, I write lots of notes to people. I don’t know when I began to ignore the usual thank you, thinking of you or sympathy cards. Or the easy messages I could send via email. Perhaps it was when I heard feedback from those who received something else from me. I saw that notes often make a small difference in someone’s life.
When I began to take note writing seriously, I took it too seriously. I’d write on a scrap piece of paper first, before copying it over, to be sure I got my words just right. As time went on, I became more at ease, and now I usually just take out special notepaper or a card, pick up my pen and the words seem to come from a place inside me that’s honest.
Thank you notes are the easiest. I’m grateful for so many things – for presents, of course, but much more. For unique moments with friends. For casseroles of “comfort food.” And especially for that friend who waited with me in a doctor’s office for three hours and never complained.
Other notes are harder, especially expressions of sympathy. Store-bought cards aren’t personal enough, because each loss is unique. No disrespect to those who use the familiar cards with the words: “My thoughts and prayers are with you.” For me, they’ve become superficial through repetition.
It’s hard to put into a note some very difficult feelings. But it’s worth it when people respond.
A friend was fighting cancer, and during that summer when I was away I wrote to her. In the fall she told me, “I kept all your notes on the table beside my bed so they were close.”
I’ve written notes when a beloved pet has died. Usually I quote a line from a cartoon I once saw. It depicted St. Peter handing out pooper scoopers to those entering the Pearly Gates, saying: “Yes, it’s true. All dogs go to heaven!” I sent such a note to a middle-aged man who might not even admit his feelings about his pet. But when I saw him sometime later, he thanked me.
On a lighter note, recently I wrote a get well message to my granddaughter’s cat. She’d been in a fight outside, and her wound wasn’t healing very fast.
It’s hard to put on paper what I want to say, but I’ve noticed that my messages become easier the more I write; never, however, simply routine. I just try to put down what I feel; no cliches, I hope.
And there are rewards that make it all worthwhile. It is wonderful to hear: “Thank you for your note. It meant a lot.” Of course there are rewards both ways. I save the ones I receive, too, and equally treasure them.
Society regularly defines noteworthy events, and the media continually recognize people who say or do extraordinary things.
For me, a stamp on an envelope with special notepaper inside and carefully written words, traveling from me to another, is what I like to define as “noteworthy,” too.