When I think back over the years, I consider myself lucky for some of the things I’ve stumbled into unexpectedly.
For example, I never gave a moment’s consideration to having a pen pal. I suppose I didn’t think I would be very good at it. A long while ago, however, I wrote a letter to an author whose book I had read, appreciated, and used for the information he had complied. The author wrote a letter in response to mine, grateful that someone had taken the time to contact him.
My letter was addressed to him in the United States but, interestingly enough, found him in Italy. What a delightful happenstance! In his return letter, he mentioned something of what he was missing by being so far away from the United States (the work of an author), so I sent him a copy of that author’s most current book.
We wrote each other from time to time and it was always very formal, proper, and . . . very interesting.
I called him once while he was in Italy. It wassimply to wish him ‘Merry Christmas’ over the phone, but came with the added benefit/challenge of maneuvering though the Italian operator who handled the call. I had forgotten I did that until last night. My ‘Merry Christmas’ greeting was returned with a lovely verbal tour of the Italian city where he was staying.
I was dusting one of my bookshelves and thought of him. Over the course of our correspondence, he had published seven books after the one I had initially read and had gifted four of them to me – one by one. He had also surprised me with a small piece of needlepoint. He had learned that craft to relax from his intensive research. I has his piece framed andit still hangs in my home. He sent it from Italy.
It’s been a while since our last correspondence. He completed his portion of research for a rather comprehensive academic work, then returned to the United States to take a position as a librarian in a very interesting library. His return to the U.S. coincided with his aging and his need to get closer to home.
He has since retired from his library position, and is now living in a retirement facility.
“Pen Pal’ doesn’t accurately describe our exchange of letters. That term sounds too casual. ‘Correspondence acquaintance’ might be a better term, but I always appreciated it for what it was: distant, academic, frivolously stuffy at times, but something I remember fondly.
I’ll spare you the details of the work he did, but the remainder of this post is for my Granddaughter. As usual, you are welcome to read over my shoulder.
There are four book on the third shelf. They are written by the same author and were sent to me by the author. Have a look at them, especially the one that has the word ‘Portraits’ in the title. I’ve read those books . . . and others that related to the same topic. I learned a lot, retained a lot, and then passed that information on to others. That’s why I wanted to accompany you to one of the destinations on your field trip yesterday. It reminded me of what quiet fortune came my why from a simple letter to say, “Thank you.”
Don’t forget to say, ‘Thank you.’ Do it without ulterior motive or expectation other than to extend your sincere gratitude. It is a most appreciated custom.