Another Adventure in Letter Writing

~ by Mary Jedlicka Humston

The other night I staged items for a “photo shoot.” Mary and I are preparing a power point presentation to use at our Letter Writing 101 workshops for our book Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink. I had already taken photos of how fun confetti is to throw inside envelopes. I prepared for my next shoot by searching for envelopes plastered with fun, festive, and numerous stickers I’d saved from my friend Kathy M. from CA, the queen of stickers.
While riffling through a basket containing some of her letters and cards, I made an astounding discovery. There, amid her correspondence, were envelopes with different handwriting. For many years, I had thought all the letters in that basket were from Kathy, but, now I found that wasn’t true. Some, gasp, were from Mary! You will understand my surprise when you read the following paragraph written by Mary. It begins the very first chapter of our book:

I cannot count the number of mornings in the past twenty-eight years I started with a written narrative to Mary Humston. Long before Facebook existed, these “status reports” came in the form of handwritten letters. If they had been saved, they’d likely fill more than one massive trunk by now, because they were both frequent (sometimes as many as five or six in a week) and occasionally quite lengthy. Had we kept our mutual letters, they would have revealed far more about us than any journal could. Some days I wish I had them, for an intimate peek at my former self, the mother of three, then four, five, and ultimately eight children. Other days I am glad for their absence, not necessarily wanting to revisit the mind-boggling mess of minutiae mothering a large brood included. There were many days, many years, when I struggled just to maintain a semblance of selfhood. Those letters to and from Mary were a sort of lifeline that kept me sane.
-Mary Potter Kenyon, from Chapter One of Mary & Me: A Lasting Link Through Ink.

mary letters

I thought I had thrown away or shredded almost all of Mary’s letters. A handful of them were preserved within my journals, but otherwise, we had decided not to keep them. And, yet, there right in front of me, were dozens of letters dating from May 2001 to March 2003, a good twelve to fourteen years ago. Ok, so I couldn’t rest until I actually counted them. (And, I’m certain you’re interested in knowing the total, too, right?) So, drum roll please…how many letters from Mary were in the basket?

Almost one-hundred letters. One-hundred letters!
Needless to say, I can’t wait to re-read them. What will they contain? What were we writing about back then? What were our worries and joys? Will we be surprised, or will we nod our heads in understanding and recognition? After I read them, those letters are destined for Mary. To keep. Hmmm. I wonder, will they spawn another book or just trigger some fond memories??


One thought on “Another Adventure in Letter Writing

  1. Jolyn Richards says:

    I am so happy that you found some letters! I loved your book and it has inspired me to write a few letters that are long overdue to those I used to write to with real letters and not just by e-mail. Thanks for sending me a real letter, it was actually quite a thrill to receive one from a new friend. The family was in the car as we drove up to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. I was so excited I got a letter I was gushing about you and how we met and that you wrote a book and how lucky I was to have you as a new friend. Thanks for making my day extra special and taking the time out of your day to think about me. Jolyn Richards


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