Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Postcards to Nana

This is my Nana. [And a giant-looking Benjamin]

She’s about 94 years old. She lives in a retirement community near us. 

A while back we moved her into a smaller apartment because my grandpa was in the process of transitioning into the memory care unit next door. We were going through closets and she handed me a box filled with hundreds of letters. 

My Nana had saved every letter and postcard I’d sent her from the last 20 years. 

My Dears, have you ever gone back and read things that your 15-year old self has written?  It’s interesting. And pretty funny, sometimes. And you’ll probably cringe at how awful your spelling is. 

I kept up a pretty steady correspondence with my grandma when she lived in Los Angeles. After she moved up to Seattle, we wrote back and forth during college and later, when Chris and I moved to Alaska and then Southern California. Letters with my grandma were necessary as she, like many of her generation,  refused to have more than a 30 second conversation on the phone. It’s that frugal depression era mentality, I suppose. 

Anyway, she didn’t have room in her new place for boxes of stuff so I got my letters back. Each one was opened (with a a letter opener), read (I presume), and then placed back in the envelope. She even marked the date of receipt on each letter. I most clearly did not inherit her organizational skills. 

I won’t bore you with the contents of the letters [lots of talk about the weather, stress over exams, thank you for birthday gifts, etc] but I thought some of the postcards were pretty funny. I like postcards - mainly because there is only room for about three sentences. Short, sweet, and to the point. Exactly my style. 

In no particular order, here are a few:



From Alaska:
Summer 2003
Hello Grandma!
It was wonderful to hear from you! Things up here are going well. Chris’ sisters and I spent the morning working on art projects and tomorrow we’re going to bake a cake. Chris and I have been doing a lot of planning for our trip to Europe. I’m very excited! Right now, it looks like we’ll be moving to either Seattle or San Francisco when we get back. Bye for now, Sonja

From Willamette University, Salem, OR:
March 17, 2001
Dear Grandma and Grandpa, 
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope this letter finds you happy and healthy. Thank you so much for the birthday present, I can’t believe that I’m two decades old! Wow, I’m going to be all grown up here pretty soon. 






From Mexico City (8th grade trip):
May 5, 1995
Dear Nana and George, 
Cancun is really  neat. We spent all day at the beach and the pool. We also went snorkeling and sailing yesterday. We saw many kinds of fish including parrot fish and sand sharks. The coral was also really interesting and difference. We went shopping at a market and got to barter for things. I’m having a great time. Talk to you soon. Love, Sonja
PS: I wrote this in Mexico but I had to mail it in Houston because I only had one kind of stamp. 

From Costa Rica
(Fall 2001)
Hey You Two!
Thank you so much for the letter! This weekend I went on a 9 mile hike up to a volcano through the rainforest. This is our last week in the city; after that we are going to various national parks around the country. Much love, Sonja


August 1, 2007
Dear Nana, 
Thank you so much for your lovely letters; I’m so sorry to be such a lousy pen pal… I hear that mom is going to be leaving for Yosemite soon. I’m sure she’s very disappointed that Papa can’t make it; it seems that he’s had a few medical mishaps lately. 


From Northern California:
August 24, 1995
Dear Nana, 
Last night we spent the night in Shasta city and plan to reach the [Sierra Club] lodge about 5:30 on Sunday night. Bill and his family will be up on Monday. I hope everything down there is ok and not to [sic] boring. 
Love ya, Sonja


From Costa Rica
January 4, 2002
My Dearest Grandparents,
Merry Christmas! I’m currently in the north part of the country learning how to surf. Mom and dad fly into San Jose tomorrow! I’m so excited to see them. Give my love to everyone back home. Love, Sonja

From Alaska
July 5, 2002
My Darling Nana and Grandpa, 
Happy fourth of July! I’m having a great time in Alaska! Today we took a bus tour through Denali National Park and saw tons of really neat animals like foxes, moose and porcupines as well as several million mosquitoes! 
Lots of love, Sonja

From Europe
October 14, 2003
Dear Grandma and Grandpa, 
Hello from Greece! Chris and I are on the Greek Island of Mykonos and we’re having a wonderful time.  I got sunburned today so I’m sure I’ll be as red as a cherry when I finally see you! Love, Sonja


April 2008
Dear Nana and Grandpa George, 
Hello from Central America! We’re just finishing up a lovely trip to Belize. We saw lots of great animals including fish, birds, snakes (!), and sharks! It was very exciting. Love, Sonja, [Chris, Tom and Karin]


July 28, 2004
From Alaska, 
Hello Nana and Grandpa!
We’re having a wonderful time up here in Alaska! We drove up to Fairbanks, went on a wildlife cruise (saw lots of dolphins), and then went fishing. I caught 3 red (?!) salmon! They were huge. Love, Sonja


August 22, 1998
Near Lake Tahoe
Dear Nana, 
The weather here is wonderful, we went up to Donner Pass and the Juddah Loop. My goodness, I am really tired and will sleep well tonight! Love, Sonja

May 2003
From the Alaska-Canadian Highway,
Dear Nana and Grandpa George, 
We’ve almost finished Day Two of our Alaskan Adventure. Right now we’ve just pulled into Whitehorse, a town in the Yukon Territory. There sure aren’t many people up here - I think we’ve seen more bears than cars. I yelled so loudly the first time I saw a moose that I nearly scared Chris out of his skin. Thus far, we’ve seen both brown and black bears, moose, foxes, dall sheep, and one giant bison. It has been an exciting trip!! Love Sonja

November 21, 2001
From Costa Rica, 
My Dearest Granny, 
Your wonderful letters have been so greatly appreciated these past couple months. Mail is truly a luxury here and you are the only one who writes with any frequency. I’m sorry that mine have been so sporadic. I just got back from a week-long vacation along the coasts of both Panama and Costa Rica. [And here my pen died. The rest of the letter is in a different color] We spent our days scuba diving and relaxing on the beach. I wanted to learn how to surf but there were no waves. There was a hurricane that hit the Pacific coast and brought tons of rain. I was on the Atlantic side though and didn’t feel any effects. All the surfers were upset however because the storms typically bring huge waves. We spent seven and a half hours on a horse back ride in the park. Of course, after spending so much time in the saddle I can barely walk this morning! Right now I’m in the middle of the country in a place called “Cerro de la Muerte” or Mountain of the Dead. It’s cold. Right now I’m wearing three longs sleeve shirts, a jacket, two pairs of warm pants and fuzzy socks. 

I hope you are doing well. I worry about all the things that are happening in the US right now [this was just after 9/11] with the war and the anthrax. Sometimes I think I’m safer here in Costa Rica than the United States. Be careful and stay safe! Much love to everyone, Sonja

May 25, 2006
From Los Angeles
Written on dirt-incrusted paper
Dear Nana, 
I'm on my lunch break and have a spare second so I thought I’d drop you a note. We’re overseeing the excavation of some gasoline-impacted soil here in downtown LA and the work is hot, dirty, and frequently very boring. We’re just off Wilshire and they removed a gas station to make way for a giant new apartment building. Right now there is a crazy woman right across the street yelling at people as they walk by. Gotta love LA. - Sonja



And I couldn’t help but include this one because I thought it was cute. It’s written by my mom.
Jackson Hole, WY 
[Can’t read the date but it was back when postcard stamps were 15 cents so I’m guessing it was around 1990]
We’ve skied through lots of scenes [pictured on the front of the postcard] just like this - gorgeous! Sonja skis like a stable mare - balking on the way out and running for the barn on the way in. She’s getting pretty good. We’ve all been having fun. We’ve seen a coyote, a dozen moose, and thousands of elk. Love, Karin
 [I guess I get my postcard writing skills from my mom - I have a habit of listing the fauna as well, no matter that the recipient might not be too interested in my wildlife interactions] 


July 11, 2005
From Lake Tahoe
Hello Nana and Grandpa!
Here is a postcard from our great trip to Lake Tahoe. I was surprised at the amount of snow at the top of Sugar Bowl. It was late June and the snow was still about 8 inches deep near the gondola at the top. Chris went swimming in Lake Tahoe but it was way too cold for me. Love, Sonja


2007?
From Hawaii
Hello Nana and Grandpa George!
I bought this postcard for you while I was in Honolulu but forgot to send it to you! I was there on a business trip. It was lovely to see you last weekend although our visits are always too brief. Love, Sonja

From Bonaire
January 16, 1999
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
Merry Christmas! Everyone is having a wonderful time here in Bonaire and hope that you are doing just as well. <3, Sonja


September 11, 2007
Dear Nana and Grandpa, 
Hello from hot, HOT Southern California! Chris’ father and brother are down here visiting so we went to the Getty Villa in Malibu. It was lots of fun but about 100 degrees. Too hot! Love, Sonja

It was fun to read through these. Definitely a trip down memory lane. Part of me wishes that I’d saved her letters; it would have been fun to see the back-and-forth. But that was not to be. And these too, are going to meet a similar fate: a trip into the recycle bin. I have to combat my hoarder tendencies. Besides, there are more postcards waiting to be sent. 


3 comments:

  1. Very sweet. I remember finding a letter and a music piece I had sent my grandma in her piano bench after she passed away. She had saved it and practiced it so we could play a duet some day. :)

    Interesting that your grandparents weren't phone people. Mine could talk to you for hours on the phone and my dad's mom preferred that to letter writing. Although...her husband died at a younger age so maybe it was because she was lonely.

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  2. Katherine J10:11 AM

    oh no! don't throw those away, what FUN for Ben to read stories about his mama when she was young and carefree (except for those very mature concerns about terrorism) :)

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  3. You guys are sweet! I caved and saved a few of the postcards for future generations to chuckle over..

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