My grandmother May, with her older brother and sister.
This week I had lunch with a cousin who brought me a copy of a faded letter written nearly 100 years ago by our great-great-grandmother, Adelaide. Another cousin had found the original among her mother's possessions. My grandmother (who was born in 1890) received this letter from her own grandmother.
Thursday, June 17, 1915
My Dear Grandchildren,"Sweet little Elizabeth" was my dad's oldest sister—the first baby in the family. Doesn't that sound just like the grandmothers now expressing thanks for email and Skype and cell phones? In many ways, we have not changed much in nearly 100 years. It is also a reminder that while we think families are more spread across the map that they used to be, that isn't necessarily so. This letter came from Massachusetts to my grandmother May who was living in South Carolina.
I must first tell you about my surprise last night when they came in with the mail to find one for me, a nice picture of dear sweet little Elizabeth and you, May. Be sure to know how pleased I am to be able to enjoy looking at it very often.
Since the letter is addressed to "My Dear Grandchildren" I wonder if the letter was meant to be shared with my grandmother's sister Florence (who is also mentioned in this letter) as they lived in the same town. That's just like now, when I send an email or text message to both my daughters at once.
She also writes about her house. How hard it is for us to think of hot and cold water and a tub and a bathroom as "modern improvements."
Perhaps I have not written about the changes in the old house. Now there is a new addition on the north of the house with all the nice modern improvements, as hot & cold water, set tubs, bathroom toilet room...The letter was six pages of just chit-chat—complaints about the post office, anniversary plans, changes around town and such. Pretty much the same kind of conversation I had with my daughter just this morning when she called.
In 100 years will our great-great-grandchildren know anything about our day-to-day lives? There will be no letters saved in a shoebox and then passed down for generations. And we hardly have an actual printed photo anymore. The last time I was with a group of grandmothers for lunch, we were showing off pictures of our grandchildren on our iPads!
We won't be here to know it's going to work out, but it's kind of fun to think about.