Sharon Randall: Keeping connected

Published 12:00 am Thursday, September 8, 2022

Of all the emails I read today, one made me especially glad for electronic communication.

I know what you may be thinking: An email is not the same as a card or letter that someone takes the time to write in their own personal longhand, then signs, seals, addresses, stamps and drops it in the mail, hoping it will be delivered in a day or so … or sometime soon.

When I open my mailbox and find a handwritten note, I grin like a mule eating briars.

But honestly? I depend a lot on electronic messaging. Even signatures for credit card charges and other documents can be done electronically. If handwritten mail were our only means of connecting, I would be woefully out of touch.

Instead, I delight in hearing daily from family and friends and readers (who are friends I’ve yet to meet) through texts and emails and phone calls and voicemail. And with FaceTime, I get to look into my grandkids’ eyes, see their smiles and even pretend to kiss a skinned knee.

That’s hard to do in a letter. In the past 15 years or so, my mailing address has changed multiple times, but my cell phone number and email address stay the same. So old friends can still find me, even after years of being out of touch.

Take that email this morning. A lifetime ago, Rose and I were neighbors. She and her husband and their son lived just across the street from the house where my late husband and I raised our three children.

Rose and I didn’t spend much time together. We just waved in passing and stopped to talk when we could. But more than friends, we were neighbors, the kind of people you might not see often, but can always count on to be there if you need them.

After my husband died, I remarried and moved away, and Rose and I lost touch. I’d not heard from her in ages until her note showed up today. Turns out, she’s on an email list that receives my column each week. I had no idea she’d been reading it for all these years.

Now retired, Rose and her husband spend summers in the mountains. She said she’d read something that made her think of me and wanted to share it. So we emailed back and forth about our families and our lives. It was such a gift to hear from her, and it might never have happened if she’d not had my email address.

I’ve been blessed with a great wealth of wonderful people. I wish I could keep in touch with them all. And yet, even with the convenience of email, I seldom seem to find enough time.

But there’s another way to stay connected with friends and loved ones, even those who left this world long ago. I learned it as a child from my dad, who taught me how to feel close to him whenever we were apart. In recent years, I’ve taught it to my grandkids. Even the youngest, at 18 months, is already trying it.

I wish you could see her.

It works like this: I begin by telling them, “When people we love have to go away, they leave their love with us. We keep it safe in our hearts, along with our love for them. And our love for each other keeps us close until we’re together again.”

Then, when I say goodbye, I ask them two questions that they’ve learned how to answer:

“How much do I love you?’’

“All!” they shout (because all is as much as anyone can love.)

“And where is your nana when you can’t see her?”

Placing a hand on their chest, they whisper, “In my heart!”

Sometimes the older ones roll their eyes as they say it. And the younger ones get confused and put their hand on their belly. But they all understand the meaning of those questions and answers. Or they will someday.

People leave, but love remains. We can feel it in our heart, so we always know that it is there. And love will keep us close forever.

Sharon Randall is the author of “The World and Then Some.” She can be reached at P.O. Box 922, Carmel Valley CA 93924, or www.
sharonrandall.com.

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