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Sharon Randall: How to say ‘I remember you’

By Sharon Randall

Sometimes my life gets a bit out of hand. If you don’t know what I mean, you’re probably not the kind of person whose life ever gets out of hand.

Or maybe you’re not the kind of person who talks about your personal life. In a newspaper. To strangers. Who’ll talk about you over the fence to the neighbors.

Never mind. I like you the way you are. Anyhow, what was I saying? Oh. I was talking about how my life suddenly got out of hand. Or out of control. Or out of order. Whatever you want to call it. Here’s what happened.

A few months after my husband and I moved to a new town, I finally got around to changing my business address (for reader mail) to a new post office. I added the new address (P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924) to the end of my column and arranged to forward mail that came to the old address.

Every week I’d go to the new post office and pick up a stack of mail. It was always a lot to answer, but I tried. Then last week, my husband came home from the post office with a refrigerator-sized box filled with hundreds of birthday cards and letters from readers. Not to mention emails and posts on my website. It was too much to read, let alone, to answer. I asked my husband to help, but he mumbled something needed fixing and went to the garage.

I am not complaining. I love to get mail. Especially the kind that turns strangers into friends and makes me think, OK, maybe I can write another column. All I’m saying is this: I cannot answer all the mail I’ve received lately.

I’ve been staring for hours at that big box. If I look away, and look back, it gets bigger. Finally, I’ve come up with a solution. I’m going to answer all of it — more or less — in this column. Here goes:

• To all of you who sent birthday cards and greetings to wish me (and my husband, whose birthday is close to mine) a happy birthday and many more to come: Thanks for the card, even if I shamelessly wrote a column to remind you.

• To those of you who replied to the column in which I posted a recipe for Dutch Babies: I’m so glad you liked it, but, no, I don’t plan to post any more recipes ever again.

• To those of you who said reading my column is like getting a letter from a friend and you wish we were neighbors: Thank you. I’m honored to be your friend. As for neighbors, I warn you. My husband plays his music loud. And if I borrow a cup of sugar or some money, I might not remember to pay it back.

• To those who replied to a column I wrote about letter writing: I loved reading all the ways you’ve found to keep letter writing alive, writing to friends and loved ones, your children and grandchildren and elderly relatives, and even to a newspaper columnist. Bless you.

• To those who asked about my sister and brother who’ve been ailing: They’re both on the mend. Thank you for your prayers and your kind and gracious concern.

• To those of you who said that something I wrote made you smile or gave you hope or let you believe we can get through this pandemic together: I’m so glad to hear it. Your words do the same for me.

• To those of you wrote about having recently lost a loved one: Please know my heart goes out to you. I can’t answer every letter. But I hope soon to answer yours.

Finally, I want to thank you all for a refrigerator-sized box of mail and all the mail that preceded it in my 30 years as a columnist. A personal note can convey many fine things. An invitation. An admiration. An offer of comfort or friendship or hope. But most of all, it makes the reader feel remembered.

In her lovely card, a reader from Pennsylvania added these lines from W. H. Auden’s “Night Mail:”

“And none will hear the postman’s knock / Without a quickening of the heart, / For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?”

Thank you for remembering me.

Randall can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or at www.sharonrandall.com.

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