The Lost Art of Addressing a Letter
Recently, Benedetto and I assembled friends in both cities where we live half of each week. This was not a gathering for a party, or for a lecture or concert. Instead, we came together to write encouraging cards to pediatric oncology patients. These were children and their families without too much hope, but thanks to medical breakthroughs, there was light at the end of the tunnel.
How well I recall our own dark days when something deadly was found in Benedetto’s body. But then, God….
It was nothing short of a miracle. He pulled through and the doctors were scratching their heads. So we continue to bolster others in their time of confusion and chaos when faced with a deadly diagnosis.
I’ve opined before about the lost art of letter-writing. This is something deeper and more profound which I had never considered: there are those today who do not know how to address a letter’s envelope.
In a country such as Russia, it used to be that the address was written upside-down: city at the top, then street address, then name in descending order, but all that changed about ten years ago.
But this was America. Pretty straightforward. Believe it or not, you can look this up on the internet, “How to Address an Envelope for Mailing”.
Let me explain. Whenever a great service project like this happens, many friends show up. Some of them bring acquaintances.
The two of us provided an assortment of attractive greeting cards and postage stamps. We passed out the address of the hospital. It was then that we noted a problem. One of the ladies had no idea how to write an address or a return address on the envelope. I looked at the handwriting scrawled from left to right across the surface, all the way down to the bottom edge.
Didn’t she understand that stickers or stamped codes go there nowadays?
Then the return address went from upper lefthand corner to where the stamp would be placed, straight across. Here was a woman, possibly in her fifties, who apparently had never handwritten an envelope in her entire life. It felt as though I were standing on the cusp of an anthropological anomaly and tried not to draw attention to the fact, reworking the envelope myself after everyone had left. I would have quietly shown her the correct way if I had spotted it earlier, but considering that I did not personally know her, this was probably best.
It was also delightful to know that her first letter went to children suffering through a difficult time. Like a beautiful greeting card and envelope, this lady and a cancer young patient had been perfectly matched for a special assignment.
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