Mom’s Last Letter and Lost Art of Letter Writing

Last night I was inspired to write a letter.

It was after I read an older book on my shelf, written back in 1971, The Hidden Art of Homemaking.

Yes, the book’s outdated a bit, but Mrs. Schaeffer’s love for “art” and the art found in the ordinary areas of everyday life, is inspiring. Edith Schaeffer’s writings have had a positive influence on Christian women, as she writes about how we all have hidden talents, unfulfilled talents, just waiting to be expressed and developed.

Which made me think of words … speaking and writing them.

I always had a love for words and writing, but I didn’t feel very skilled with them. When I discovered blogging, I learned to be creative with my words regarding hospitality.

I do love to share my heart with others when it comes to the subject of hospitality. I want to help others. Which, by the way, I always wonder if my mom really knew that my name means “Helper.” :)

One of the ways that we can help or encourage others in life is by the words that we choose to use. And we never know what our last words will be, either.

The other day I found the last letter that my mother wrote to me. I keep it in a safe place and read it often. My mom was an avid letter-writer, card-sender. That was her way of encouraging others.

Dear Little Coughlin Family,

I am getting homesick for all of you. Good thing I have pictures or does this make it worse?

She went to tell us what she and my dad were doing, how much things cost, the friends they were seeing, the places they were traveling to …

We miss all of you. Not sure when we will head home … Love, Mom and Dad

Today things are so different. We text, call, send pictures through email but we do little letter writing.

I’m thankful for the gift of my mom’s last letter. I love seeing her handwriting; it reminds me of when I was young. I love that she was homesick for our family. I love feeling her heart …

Writing is an art that I hate to say is diminishing quickly, especially writing letters. And paper notes can also reflect a hospitable spirit …

Do you think writing letters or cards is important, and when is the last time you practiced the art?

38 comments on “Mom’s Last Letter and Lost Art of Letter Writing”

  1. VERY important in my book…and this past weekend. My kids learn early as well, and I love how excited they get when their daddy comes home with a bag of mail that has arrived and they hope that someone has written to them.

  2. I have the last two letters my Grandma wrote to me in 1974 before she died. She died unexpectedly but those letters are reflective and thoughtful and I cherish them. I still cry when I read them but, like you, I love her handwriting, the fact that it is so personal. I love knowing that she touched the paper (silly) but I was very close to her and still miss her

  3. Yes, I think writing cards or letters is important and I am in the midst of sending one every day during Lent. I wish I could take credit for the idea but actually it was Karen Ehman who blogged about it on her February 22nd post. Instead of giving up something for Lent she was sending encouragement on all 40 days. My experience has been that it’s a wonderful journey so far and some days a bit challenging. Much like life:)

  4. I love writing letters but don’t seem to do it very often these days. The last letter I wrote was to my English aunt – we had just come back from visiting her and I wanted her to know how important that time was to my sister and me.

    But I must say that with email and FB and blogging, I feel that I am writing to more and more people every day – thanks to FB I’ve reconnected with cousins all around the world and write to them often. The sad thing is that there will be no lasting record – no box of letters to open. So I keep all the cards we receive in a box labelled with the year. Nobody looks at them now, but we will as time passes.

  5. It is wonderful that you kept that letter from your Mom. I’m a fan of letters, both sending and receiving them. It takes time to sit down and write a letter and I think that time change the shape of what is said. Dashing off a quick e-mail is handy but just doesn’t have the same connection for me.


  6. I wish more people wrote letters. Nothing beats getting a hand written thank you card in the mail or a quick little love note from a loved one. I collect stationary and adore writing letters for friends and family. It truly is a lost art and what a great way to be close to your mom by pulling out a letter she wrote. Happy Tuesday to you, friend!!

  7. Lovely post. The Hidden Art of Homemaking is my all-time favorite book on the subject of domesticity. I received it in 1974 as a graduation gift from my pastor’s wife and still pull it out on occasion when I need revived in the area of home arts. I think it is timeless.

    About letter writing…yes, it is becoming a lost art. My husband fondly tells me that his Mother would whip off a few lines on a paper towel while she was working in the kitchen, tuck them in an envelope, and mail them to him when he was a kid at scout camp. I’d love to have some of those for my collection!

    My own Mom writes great letters, and her handwriting is a work of art. Almost pretty enough to frame.

    Most of my hand written notes fall into the category of thank-yous, and I am most inspired when I use a fountain pen.

    Thanks again for your lovely thoughts!

  8. Although I don’t handwrite many letters (my handwriting is horrible and difficult to read) I do send a letter via post every week, sometimes two. Even if they are typed, it is so encouraging to receive something OTHER THAN BILLS in the mail now-a-days. They might be short, long, have clippings from interesting articles, or even many times just a funny postcard. It is a timeless art, a way of connecting with those you care about and even if we don’t get a return post, you can be confident you’ve made someone happy that day.

  9. Wow. What a treasure to have. AND what a inspiration for your mother to pass along. I’m so lazy when it comes to writing anything these days, but it’s so nice when I receive a handwritten letter from someone. I really need to take time (and have the stamps ready!) to send more handwritten notes. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement!

  10. I sent a thinking of you card a couple of weeks ago and need to make and send a thank you card this week. I love getting cards and try to send them when I can. I wish Christmas cards would make a huge comeback they are so much more pretty and genuine compared to an email.

  11. I’m trying to send notes more often, and I even make handmade, handstamped notecards, which I’m attempting to sell for others to enjoy at

    But I’m notorious for not even sending birthday cards to my own family!

  12. So special Sandy…

    I love sending (and receiving) “thinking of you” cards…though I don’t do it often anymore. My kids have 2 friends from preschool that just moved to Japan, I talked to them about becoming “pen pals” and this post has pushed me toward encouraging it!

  13. When I was in college and even high school I was always writing letters, notes etc..But I never liked my writing so when e-mail happened I took advantage of that. My mom preferred to call but she also would write letters. When I was in Florida recently my Grandma pulled out a manila folder with pictures and even some cards and letters that we had written or that my mom had written her after we moved away.

  14. My mom passed away 6 years ago. She mostly called us or visited because she lived 8 miles away and attended same church. She wrote many letters to her mom and to other family. I did keep many of the blank cards and stationary she had on hand and have started using them. It does prompt me to write. I found many thank you, get well, and sympathy cards. It does show me what was a big part of her life.
    I also found notebooks full of her letters, rather the first draft with revisions and crossed out areas.
    Her big secret was she wrote out letters as time passed like a journal and used that to compose her letters to family. She might send out 3 or 4 different letters from same outline. She included what was going on and other news. Those outlines give me a glimps into her life and loves.
    I find I have better results doing a first draft and “nice” copy from that.
    Thanks for opening my memories.
    rick s

  15. Sandy, loved this post. My mother was also an avid letter writer. She had the most incredible handwriting and worded things so eloquently. I love looking back at these letters and I, too, feel such comfort and reminders of my youth.

    I think I’ll write a letter to my girls today!

  16. I have always been a letter writer and have saved quite a few from family and friends. My mom cherishes my letters and I try to send her one every now and then. My most treasured letters are from my dad when he was in VietNam. Yes…letter writing is a lost art along with written thank you notes.

    Ps. Love my mom’s handwriting too!

  17. Oh this brings back memories of MY Mother. She was an avid letter, card writer as well. In fact she wrote to every President and got REPLIS, which she out in an album that I now have!!!! My daughter and SIL TEXT each other, even when they are in the same house!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t get it and have told her I think they will regret that one day. The art of conversation is important too!!!! I have saved little notes from my kids, friends and husband in a special box. Loved this post. XO, Pinky

  18. Letters are so important, as they acquire even more meaning through time, but I don’t write nearly enough. Last year, when I was cleaning out my dad’s house after he moved into assisted living, I found the letters he had my mother had written while they were engaged and he had gone on ahead to a new job in another state, as well as ones that he had written during their marriage. I also found letters that he had written to his sister while he was in WWII.

    How beautiful it is that you have your mom’s letter!

    Note to self: use those stamps!

  19. I love REAL letters. Writing them. Receiving them. An email or text is better than nothing, but thoughtfully worded handwritten notes will always be appreciated, even by those that don’t take the time themselves. I practice writing them when I can, and am trying to encourage my children to do so as well, although it’s a tough sell!

  20. I am a devoted letter-writer and have been since I was a young teenager. There’s simply nothing like opening your mailbox and seeing the familiar handwriting of a friend or relative. My best friend, in fact, started out as a pen pal about seven years ago, and to this day we communicate mostly via letters, though we do text and email occasionally. I write to my 73-year-old Nana regularly, and in almost every letter she tells me how happy she is that I write to her. (Little does she know how much joy it gives me! Perhaps I should tell her in my next letter). In addition to letters, I enjoy writing out thank-you notes, birthday cards, thinking-of-you cards, etc. Receiving one can really brighten a person’s day.

  21. I have been a letter writer since I was a young girl and I always thought that at my funeral I hope someone mentions how they enjoyed getting letters from me. Although I do email and texting now too, I did just write a letter last week to encourage my sister in law. After highschool I moved away from family and friends so I would write and my Grandmother would write to me, I saved all of her letters and have them in a box, When she died back in 1988, I read all of her letters to my husband on the way back home for the funeral and then later to family. My mother said “I never got a letter from my mother” since they had always lived close to each other. Although I have always been sad not to live in the same town as my family, I treasure my letters from friends and relatives. I have a couple people on my mind I need to get busy and write to, so this post just gave me the nudge I need. The only thing is , I’ve always hated my handwriting, I don’t have the nice fancy kind I would like! But that being said, maybe someday someone will look at my handwriting and it will bring back memories of me when I am gone, as my Grandmothers does for me!

  22. I agree Sandy the art of letter writing is dying, with all of our new technology. We have had this conversation with our boys, about how important it is to write a note, card, letter, not just send a text or email.
    Our handwriting and the handwriting of our loved ones is unique only to them. I still have cards and letters that my mother and grandmother wrote, they have both gone on to glory. But when I take out those cards and letters, it immediately connects me back to them, that day that the card, letter arrived in the mail.
    My fear is that our generation will not have these treasures to pass on to the next because of the new technology. I try to send cards at least once a month, and I always put a personal note in them, but I can count on one hand cards and letters we receive, and most of the cards are now with typed notes and signatures. We must continue to keep trying to keep this art form alive!!!
    Blessings to you and yours
    Curtis & Sherrie

  23. My grandmother used to send me letters in the mail even though we didn’t live very far apart. I try to send her letters now just to tell her I love her and how much she means to me. She doesn’t do email or texting of course so letters or phone calls keep me in contact with her. Great post and a wonderful reminder!

  24. Yes, yes, YES! I love hand-written notes, and enjoy both sending and receiving them. E-mails, FB messages, whatever, just don’t even come close. Thanks for posting this to remind us what a special thing taking the time to hand write something can be!

  25. You had me at the word handwritten letter from mom.
    They are few – and so very special. Tears.
    Thank you for this reminder to be in the moment
    of Spirit moving you to share what feels like such
    a trivial moment, but is filled with love and in your handwriting.
    Southern Living Magazine show cased a framed
    enlarged copy of an evelope from a loved one.
    Great idea on all fronts.
    You are loved, thank you for what you bring to the
    forefront of my mind that is important or needs not
    to be made bigger than it need be.
    Hugs, Patti

  26. I keep reading the comments and see how much letters or just a note mean to us all. maybe we need to up our letter writing to affect change in others.
    I also think since phone calls were less frequent, were more special. The numerous texts and all the phone tag games that get played seem like more of an intrusion and less of a treat.

    I have seen hand written notes on the back of photos, gift tags, recipes, and cards or letters. They all make me feel like I am with the writer, at that moment in time.

    Thanks for raising our consciousness.

  27. This is a beautiful post, Sandy and it brought tears to my eyes. There is something so special and personal about someone’s handwriting especially those we love. I have poems that my dad wrote for me on scraps and bits of paper but they are in his chicken scratch writing. (And I mean that literally!) They are so precious. Letter writing is definitely a lost art that I want to make time for in my life. Thanks for the encouragement.

  28. Pingback: Mom's Last Letter and Lost Art of Letter Writing | Living better at 50+| Online Womens Magazine

  29. I have always been a letter writer and in more recent years, a maker of homemade cards. I’ve always considered it a ministry of encouragement. My sister, mom and dad, have all passed away in the last 10 years and I wish I had saved more of the cards I was given through the years. I also appreciate my blogging because I often write about my love and appreciation for my children. Love your blog and your heart!

  30. What a special gift. My grandma wrote letters to me often on college & when I am really missing her I pull those out & touch them and read them. I need to get better about this!

  31. Letter-writing is a lost art, and this post is a great reminder of how meaningful personal letters can be. I recently sent letters to my kids (both in college), and addressed some hard issues we’d been discussing. It seemed easier to pen them than to say them face-to-face.
    Thanks, Sandy!

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  33. I am so glad to see a reference to my favorite book…The Hidden Art of Homemaking…I think the principles of Edith Schaeffer are timeless..this little book has inspired my life. :-) and as for letter writing, I treasure the letters I have from my grandmother and my mother..even the love letters written at the turn of the century between my grandparents..yes, I NEED to go write some letters.
    thanks for a great post,

  34. I have been re reading letters my mother had written to me while she was alive and I really cherish them. I am able to see how she encouraged me and kept me up to date about her life. I have four children of my own and although we all live quite close I have begun to write letters to them rather than emails and texts. I value the letters my mother wrote as they bring back happy memories. Although I like being able to keep in touch with email and facebook etc I miss the art of letter writing, something I am working on changing.

  35. Wow!! lovely letter and Something new here & sounds interesting Let me check it out…:)
    Handwriting Analysis

  36. great concept
    hope i can use it soon


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  38. Myself and six other girlfriends, from our college days, write letters to one another throughout the year. We call it a “circle letter”. It works like this: I write a letter to them and place it in a large envelope, then address it to one of them, and mail it. The person receiving the letter, reads my letter, writes her own and places it in the envelope with my letter and mails it to the next girl. And on it goes until it comes full circle, back to me.

    We’ve been doing this for several years now. We all love it! Often, the news is old news by the time it arrives, but every time I find the bulging envelope in my mailbox, I grab a cup of coffee, find a cozy place to curl up and read the precious words from my wonderful friends. Oh! And I always needs tissues, because I cry. Every. Time!

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