Aunt Esther’s 8 words of wisdom

I used to write letters. Letters that traveled here-and-there in envelopes with a USPS stamp.

I still write letters. But not all that many, and not all that often.
I don’t have to buy all that many “forever stamps” these days.

My Dad’s side of the family has always written lots of letters. I don’t know where this propensity to write letters falls in the nature-nurture debate.

I recently learned that Uncle Gilbert, the oldest of dad’s four siblings, wrote hundreds of letters to his oldest child…and she held on to all of them!! Good for her. And good for him.

My Dad writes letters and notes, including thank you cards, fairly often. Sometimes he sends the very same letter to me and my two younger siblings. (Those specific letters are the subject for another day….)
I have lots of those letters and cards stuck away. There are some good ones. 🙂

When my kids were pre-teens I tried to get them to write letters to my folks, in the hopes of getting some family history down in writing. There was some success, but not nearly as much as I would’ve liked. I do have electronic copies of 20+ letters between my kids and my folks. I wish that number had an extra zero in it. I haven’t read any of those letters in double-digit years, but I recently confirmed that they are on the hard-drive of this laptop, and are backed-up.
I was an active letter writer once upon a time, including several to some senators while I was stationed at Ft. Bragg. I provided them specific examples of how army life was very different from what I was reading about in Newsweek and Look.

I wish I had kept copies of some of the letters I wrote, and of the letters I got in return, whether it was from “public servants” or from friends over the years. I’m pretty sure that there were some gems there. Especially the ones that got me summoned to a session with my company commander and later with a major general at the JFK Center for Special Warfare. (I was a PIA of a soldier. What a surprise….)
I have a friend from “back in the day” who has joined me and “Tissell” at some junior college basketball games when I head to the Leadbelt to take in a MAC basketball game. (Everybody who grew up in Elvins had a nickname. Dad’s is on my folk’s headstone at the Weiss cemetery. But the story behind the nickname “Tissell” will have to wait…)

I bring this up, because Rick has a letter that I wrote him when we were in the service. Most likely I wrote it from Ft. Bragg, although it could’ve been from Ft. Leonard Wood. I don’t know where Rick was when he received the letter.

I haven’t seen the letter myself. Rick mentioned it to me when we had breakfast right after I had left Floriduh and moved back to MO. A little while later, there was an electrical fire at his house that resulted in significant smoke damage. When they were able to move back home after a lengthy smoke and water restoration effort, they came back to LOTS of boxes.

“The letter” is in one of those many boxes. Someday Rick will find it again. I look forward to reading that letter. He says it’s a doozy.
My ex had a great aunt who was known for saying “don’t get old and dilapidated…it’s bad business.” I loved that!!! When we made our annual visit to Missouri, we always tried to have a meal with Aunt Esther. It’s hard to believe that she passed away over 27 years ago, in March 1990.

She was 92 the last time I saw her, but I can still see her smile as she admonished us as we headed out: “Don’t get old and dilapidated. It’s bad business”

She wrote those 8 words in every letter or card we ever got from her. When she had been dead for a little while (I don’t think it had even been a year) I asked my wife where she had put the cards and letters from her Aunt Esther.

“I threw them all away…”

I couldn’t believe it. I thought she must be kidding.
“You didn’t keep ANY of her letters? Not even one? There is nowhere to read ‘don’t get old and dilapidated…it’s bad business’ in her handwriting? You didn’t keep any of them?”

“No. They are all gone. I threw them away.”

It was obvious that my ex was very special to her Aunt Esther. I’ll never understand why she didn’t keep at least one letter. Just one.
I’d love to see that phrase again, in her own handwriting.
Just once.

I’ve taken Aunt Esther’s words of wisdom to heart. Keep moving…don’t get old.
I’ve taken this lady’s words of wisdom to heart too.
“…We can’t do it over
They say it’s now or never and all we’re ever gettin’ is older
Before we get to heaven, baby let’s give ’em hell…”