For the past 20 years the 85-years old woman had sent her news and greetings to the family “overseas” as handwritten letters that arrived via Air Mail. Eventually, as her hands grew weaker, the writing became more strenuous and the words less legible. But she was resolved to sustain the lines of communication with those overseas, now in an evolving electronic world to which she did not yet belong, so she took her manual typewriter into the shop for repairs. Telephone calls and time zones were expensive to span, but she could still use Air Mail for her now type-written letters. And they arrived overseas, certainly more legible and showing clearly her fighting determination to stay in touch.
Her nearby family, now enlarged to grandchildren and great-grandchildren, showed her how fast written communications could be exchanged and Air Mail suddenly looked extremely slow and very outdated to her. In a recent letter she hinted that something helpful was “in the works” but the revelation was being delayed, as it turned out, by the technical challenges of using an electronic address that is less forgiving than a paper envelope.
And in the time it would have taken for Air Mail to deliver her news she found the correct way, not only to address her email messages, but to join a social media platform. She is rightly proud of the progress she made to move into the world of electronic communication, while still learning about her new tools and how to make them do her bidding. She changed her approach because it served her need to stay in touch even though it was uncomfortable. As she perceives her progress with a smile, she thinks that in one sense she is still communicating by “air mail”.
- by James R. Plautz