Just this morning, I turned the page of a book and was immediately and delightedly reminded of the power of words on paper.
It wasn't what I read in the book's pages but rather the unexpected hand-written note that I found slid between them.
I laughed at the silliness of it but in that one instance, my mood was changed. I wasn't in a bad mood to begin with but rather I was in business mode, my mind spinning quickly over many business things. The few words I read brightened my mood and lightened my step.
Like most folks, I am not an enthusiastic exerciser so I need additional enticement to draw me to my elliptical machine. That enticement comes in the form of a good book that makes me eager to crawl on the machine and enjoy a reading experience while chasing calories away. That is why I always have an "upstairs book," the one I read while working out, and a "downstairs book," which resides on my night stand and is sometimes enjoyed on the back porch swing or tucked into my going-away bag.
I turned the page to find a piece of printer paper, folded in half with words scrawled across the top in black ink. "Call Peterson," read the first line, followed by, "Give him lots of LOVE." He had underlined "love" with two strong, heavy marks.
I laughed and shook my head in amusement. Peterson is a good friend, who drops in a couple of times a year from his home hours away and performs some lovely piece of kindness for me. I have him to thank for the porch swing I love, the screen door he hung and on the day he had hidden the note, he was hanging large glass replicas of each of my book covers.
He is a jokester so I had no doubt that when he scribbled the note, he had said to his friend, Todd, who was helping, "Watch this. Just wait till Ronda sees this when she turns the page." I am certain he threw his head back and laughed heartily. "Boy, she's gonna get a surprise!"
The surprise worked just as he intended. I had laughed and shook my head at his good-hearted prank. It also brought to bear the power that a hand-written note can have in our lives.
I am always pleased to receive a note or letter written in someone's own hand. It's so personal. Over the past decade, I have kept every one that someone sent. I have boxes of notes and letters. It may seem like unnecessary junk to some people but to me, it is a mosaic of my life as seen through the eyes of others.
When Karen moved into a new house a few years ago, she threw away all the correspondence she received over the years. I was aghast.
"How could you?" I asked in disbelief. "Those are pieces of your life." Regret filled her face but it was too late to salvage them.
My sister found a note that I had written to Mama 20 years ago on Valentine's Day. I had written it in red ink and poignantly recalled some of her loving gestures to me over the years. Her tears had stained the note and washed away the ink in places. She had taken a black pen and wrote the words back in.
I shook my head silently as I read the note and tears clouded my eyes. "Wow," I mumbled softly. "I guess this was really important to her." I had long forgotten the note and even when I found it, I didn't recall writing it.
Words said will fade as memory fades, but words written will survive as long as the ink and paper survive.
Write someone you love today.Ronda Rich is the Gainesville-based author of the new book, "What Southern Women Know About Faith." Sign up for her newsletter.