Letters From Barbara

Last year I struck up a pen pal relationship with a distant cousin. I actually wrote here about receiving that first letter as the joy of finding her letter had such a positive impact.

In an age when birthday greetings are sent on Facebook and mailboxes are stuffed with bills or junk mail, it was refreshing to receive fun mail.

Barbara and I shared book recommendations, stories about our lives and observations about the changing seasons. None of it important. In fact it was probably all trivial but it meant the world to me to communicate with a kindred spirit.

Her father was once a postmaster and she inherited from him a collection of stamps that she was using to send mail. Since they are decades old, it required a combination of stamps to equal modern postage rates and they weren’t the peel and stick kind either! Remember when we had to lick stamps? Man, they tasted bad.

So every envelope featured a variety of brightly colored little works of art that made receiving her correspondence an occasion. The fact these stamps were from her dad’s collection elevated her letters to the status of keepsake and I’m glad I kept them all.

She never mentioned this in our exchange and I didn’t ask because I figured she would volunteer the information if she wanted to discuss it – but she had cancer.

It was Melanoma that originated with a spot she had since childhood. It spread rapidly and treatments didn’t work.

In a long list of things I file under the heading Life Isn’t Fair, Barbara died on Sunday morning. She was just 68.

Its hard to believe that this creature who was full of curiosity and laughter, who naturally made everyone in the room feel important, and who had such an artful way with words is no longer with us.

In lieu of flowers, Barbara asked that people pay it forward by making a donation to a charity of their choice or by performing an act of kindness toward another. It’s a humble request from a good person.

So, if you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll take a moment to do something good for another. It needn’t be monetary or big. It can be anything that might brighten someone else’s day. Do it in her honor or in remembrance of another kind soul who has left your life.

5 thoughts on “Letters From Barbara

  1. My condolences on the loss of your cousin. How wonderful that you had an actual correspondence (reminds me I need to write to my great aunt, now 94 – she always responds).

    In just a while I’m going to be calling a dear friend who is going to have a bunch of proactive surgeries because she has a breast cancer gene (her mother died young from breast cancer). She was supposed to get biopsy results today. First surgery next week and another next month.

  2. It saddens me to hear about the loss of your cousin. I have recently re-connected with my cousin also, after many years of no communication, so I can imagine somewhat what you are feeling. Life sure isn’t fair. Glad that you have the sweet memory of Barbara and a part of her dad’s stamp collection. I will indeed pay it forward in honor of her wishes. With sympathy, Chris

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