When We Write Letters, Part VI: Letters from Grandma

Letters arrived at camp.

The post man delivered them to my parents’ mailbox.

Letters came all the time.

Now they never come.

I miss her letters. Only three or four remain. Paper slightly aged, and cursive letters written into the page. I feel where my grandmother’s pen pressed down.

I called my grandmother “Dick Dick,” a name which received unfortunate taunting as I grew up. Since our last name is Dickinson, we shortened it. She signed every letter “Grandmother Dick Dick.”

She wrote about what my grandfather was doing, asked about what I was learning in school and added information to her letters beginning with the phrase, Did you know

Dick Dick sent newspaper clippings about reading, but it was my father who helped me how to read her handwriting.

She wrote small cursive letters that ran into each other like little tug boats in the water. Sometimes I could not tell an f from an s. While at camp, her letters were left open for my interpretation.

At Governor’s School the Arts – Creative Writing freshman summer program in 2000, Dick Dick sent me a letter almost every day. She wanted to know what I wrote about. In her youth, she and my grandfather read Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning’s poems they composed in letters to each other.

Sometimes she scribbled a quote from their poetry.

When she died in 2003 one month before I graduated high school, I thought it marked the end of my childhood. I was depressed when my grandfather died, and I tried to bury feelings when Dick Dick died.

I wanted to keep them alive.

At age twenty, I began to interpret Papa’s legacy with Sons of the Edisto.

Dick Dick inspired me, also.

She ordered Hooked-on-Phonics so I could improve my speech.

She encouraged my writing.

She was also one of the people who influenced my name at birth, Rebecca Tinsley Dickinson, and the reason I am published as a journalist and author under the name, Rebecca T. Dickinson.

She was the last person to write me letters.

Who wrote you letters?

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

Next Week: for the grand finale, The Query Letter

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6 thoughts on “When We Write Letters, Part VI: Letters from Grandma

  1. Language Arts Teacher February 24, 2013 at 12:09 PM Reply

    Good post! Letters are awesome. I teach my kids letter writing during the 2nd quarter. I always make sure to mention that they may or may not write letters, but it’s an important form of communication because they already communicate in a similar manner via emails, facebook messages, etc… That usually grabs their attention.

    http://lablog101.wordpress.com/lesson-plans/

    • rtd14 February 24, 2013 at 1:22 PM Reply

      I also teach. That is excellent you teach kids about letter writing. It is almost a lost art, which is why I’m writing a series on it. I look forward to checking out your lesson plans! Thank you for the comment!

  2. robincoyle February 24, 2013 at 7:08 PM Reply

    These are sweet and tender memories. How lucky you are she was so involved in your life. The last letter I wrote was to my folks. My mom wrote back and said, “Why don’t you ever write?”

    • rtd14 February 26, 2013 at 7:41 AM Reply

      Parents wanted to receive letters from their children. I remember how important it was for mine. Thank you for your comment, Robin!

  3. Marilyn Reed Thomson March 22, 2013 at 8:38 AM Reply

    Rebecca, your wonderful grandma was my second grade teacher in the late ’50s. I figured this out during a sentimental journey on the internet this week. I loved her dearly and remember her quite vividly. She encouraged me tremendously. I was very shy, and she was just what I needed. That was the year I had my first boyfriend, lost a front tooth during reading circle, and even wrote all the way to 1000!

    I also discovered that your Bamberg county roots run very close to mine. I’ll check further and let you know if they cross.

    I’m enjoying your writings and would love to see some photos of your grandparents.

    • rtd14 March 23, 2013 at 9:01 PM Reply

      Marilyn, I cannot begin to tell you how much your comment means to me. Just the fact that you took time to stop by and think of my grandmother. She meant a lot to so many people beyond my family. She even tutored in the last years of her life. Your story is one that crosses all generations, and anyone who has ever been a kid knows how tough some years are or were.

      Which side of your family comes from Bamberg? I’ve done a lot of research visiting Bamberg in the last six years, mainly photographing the geographic locations.

      Thank you for the kind words about my writing, and I have pictures of my grandparents. I just need to scan them. ~ Rebecca

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