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Elephant Soap

 

 

THE GENETICS OF HANDWRITING

Cindy Maddera

As I filled a garbage bag of leftover bits and pieces in the attic, I came across a bin of papers. From the top it looked like trash. Mice had eaten away at things and most of the papers were so old they crumbled when touched. But I stopped and took a moment to go through the box. I pulled out a crumbling photo album, Janell's very first baby picture and few other things. I realized then that it was time to take a break and go through this container with a little more care. I carried it downstairs so we could all go through it at the dinning room table. 

Mixed in with the garbage and the pictures, I pulled out a few letters. One of the letters was the very last letter that Memaw sent to Mom. It arrived after Memaw had passed away. My mother has never read the letter. She said it was just something she couldn't ever bring herself to do, so I took it. It was opened and had been read by someone at some time. The first thing I noticed about the letter was the handwriting. It's the same handwriting as Mom's. If I didn't know better, if all I had was the letter and not the envelope it came in with Effie McCool in the top left corner, I would think this was a letter from Mom. Except it's not. 

It's a letter from a woman I never knew telling a simple tale of daily life and the current happenings of Louisville MS in November of 1977. They'd all had colds, but were better now. A new Wal-Mart store and a new Piggly Wiggly had just opened. Memaw and Pepaw had spent a day cleaning up the Tucker family grave sites at Mars Hill Church. So and so had a new baby boy and some couple had separated. Memaw wanted to know if we were planning on visiting at Thanksgiving, but then wrote something about having already mostly finished this letter after talking on the phone with Mom about that very thing. At the end she tells my Mom "be good and hugs to all. We love you, Mother". I love that she's still telling my thirty something year old mom to "be good". 

I never knew Memaw. I was one (going on two) when this letter was written and she passed away. I've heard all of the stories from cousins and my brother and even Mom about how wonderful she was. They speak of her as if she were Mother Teresa. She was the grandma that you baked cookies with. She probably was the type that could have brushed my hair without me throwing a fit. I'm sure I would have sat for hours in her lap. Instead I got her wedding rings, her china and now her letter. I inherited her ability to make the perfect pie crust. And, if I take my time and don't rush the words, I notice that I have also inherited her handwriting.