Recently, while scrolling through the plethora of posts on Facebook, I ran across one of those with shadowy pictures in the background and words that magically appear while telling a sappy story intended to tug at your heartstrings. Normally I don’t watch those, especially if the tag line is anything like “this brought me to tears” or “I was crying by the end!” First, I don’t believe that and, if I watch it until the end, I wonder about the emotional health of the person who originally posted the thing. Second, most of the time they’re poorly written and drag the moral of the story into eternity. But for some reason, I paused on this one.
The story was about a young lady who was presented with 71 letters on her eighteenth birthday, letters that had been written to her by her family and their friends as her gift the day she turned one. Her parents had included an unusual request in the invitation to her party. Instead of a store-bought present, please write a note, one she will read in seventeen years. They never opened them, never looked at them, simply put them safely away until the appropriate time. Since that day several of the writers had departed this life so, as the caption to the post stated, she literally received letters from beyond the grave.
Now that’s a cute way to phrase it and definitely a way to grab your attention, but honestly, it’s also a wonderful idea. I began thinking back over the people I would have heard from on the eighteenth anniversary of my birth; they included my great-grandmother Shackelford and my grandmother Shackelford, both of whom died before I celebrated my sixth birthday.
Then I began reviewing what would have been my children’s “letters from the grave”; by the time they turned eighteen they had lost two great-grandmothers—may husband’s grandmother, Emma Beckham, and my grandmother, Myrtie Rogers. Now I know my grandmother and getting her to write a letter might have required a crowbar, but “Miss” Emma would gladly have penned one to both my children—and I would give almost anything if she had.
So I would like to make a suggestion today, one that I hope some of you will actually adopt, even if your children are a few years older than one—and if you don’t have qualifying children, please share it with those who do. Pass out the paper and pens and ask the grandparents and the aunts and uncles and anyone else you see fit to write your child a letter for their future. If you have other children, give them the same opportunity, even if you have to help them with the spelling or penmanship. And don’t forget to include yourself. Don’t assume that everyone will be present and accounted for when that happy day-of-adulthood arrives. I feel very safe in saying they will not—and what a wonderful gift to everyone involved if they have the opportunity to speak to someone they love from beyond the grave.