Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Proper Notes

As I have said often, if there is one thing we are taught from an early age it is how to write a proper note and that they need to be sent often. In fact there is that well known joke: Why do Junior Leaguers shy away from orgies? Answer: Too many thank you notes to write. 

I don't send as many notes as I should but I try my best, especially when there is a death in the family. I never realized how much a personal note of condolence or even a simple note written on the bottom of a Hallmark card means to a bereaving family until my father died. I found much comfort in those notes and cards we received. But I digress.

A year or two ago I came across the obituary of twenty two year old young lady who had been killed in an automobile accident. This hit so close to home given my daughters were about her same age. Then my heart stopped when I saw the name of the parents. The mother was Mary Catherine Davis*, maiden name Johnson. Oh my God, I thought. I was in school with Mary Catherine. 

 We weren't that close so I didn't have her address. I called the alumni office at our high school and got it. That note was difficult to write, but I poured my heart out, telling her how I could not imagine such a loss, and although I had no answers, I wanted her know I was thinking about her and her family at this time. She may find it odd getting a note from me after so many years, but after all, it is the south.  I didn't live close enough to send chicken salad or attend the funeral, so the note would have to do.

A month or two later I was having lunch with a close former high school buddy on mine. As always the conversation turned to our former classmates and what news, or better yet, scuttlebutt we had for each other. When I mentioned Mary Katherine and her daughter's death, my friend just looked at me. "Oh, don't worry  honey, it's never too late to send a note," I said.  "Did you?" "I did and it was very difficult to write." Then she started laughing. "What?" I asked. 

"Well, not nearly as hard as it was for her to read." "Huh" "Mary Catherine and her husband never had any children." "Didn't she marry the Johnson boy?" "Yeah, but they never any children." "You sure?" "Positive. Remember our fifteenth year reunion?" "Yeah, the one I missed." "Well, that was the only one she came to and it was a big deal that she and her husband never had kids because we were all envious that they could spend all their money traveling while we were saving for college and finding babysitters."  "That's annoying." "Oh, it was worse than annoying." "Not nearly as annoying as receiving a condolence note from a former classmate you didn't know very well, and haven't seen in twenty years, for a child you never had." 

"I guess she thinks I'm nuts." "Probably.

* Her name was changed here to protect the innocent and further humiliation on my part.

No comments: