What happens when penmanship fades and the elderly have outlived their friends? 6



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For as long as I can remember my mother loved writing and receiving letters and when she retired all those years ago she became even more prolific. Pen and paper were never far away and a lot of thought went into every letter. Mum took a lot of pride in her penmanship and her handwriting was exceptional with six or more foolscap pages being effortless for her. Thinking back, she has probably hand written more pages than all of the books she has read. I also remember when I was a child the amount of Christmas cards that Mum would receive was incredible – they would take pride of place hanging on string that circled the living room and every card had the verse on one side and “news” from the sender on the other. Of course they have also dropped away, she now only receives from family members and there is only ever a polite To and From written in them, nobody bothers to fill the card with news. I think sending them is more a sense of duty than anything else.

Now life has happened and she has “outlived” all but two of her friends with one residing in a nursing home and the other barely capable of holding a phone conversation, let alone write a letter. The nursing home lady’s writing has become so tiny and with Mum being blind in one eye and poor vision in the other, she tends to guess her way through reading the occasional reply that she receives. But she like many of the elderly still love to get that hand written letter and it is fast becoming obsolete. For many writing a letter is now looked at as a waste of time: everything is online but the over 90s that are still in their own homes look forward to the familiar squeak of the postman’s motor bike. I know my mother asks me constantly if she has any mail, but the trusty postie is rarely the bearer of anything other than a bill.

I think greeting cards will eventually die along with hand written letters because with the generations coming up the ranks it’s all about speed and convenience. Why write a letter when an email is so much faster? Why buy a greeting card when you have so many virtual cards available online covering everything imaginable and all available at the press of a button? Penmanship is going to be non existent, why would you bother writing something down when there is an app available to cover your every need? No need to write a shopping list there is an app for that, no need to go to the stores you can sit at home and shop online, and thats why the elderly are being left behind. Few over 90s know how to use a computer anyway there is no app for loneliness.

Next time you see an old lady or man, you may know them, you may not, give them a couple of minutes of your time and say g’day. You might lose 5 minutes of your day, but a lot of them have lost a lifetime of friendships, and that 5 minutes would mean the world.

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Guest Contributor

  1. The image above of the person holding a biro is showing an incorrect and strained method of holding the pen (for a right-handed person). The grip shown would become tiring and result in poorer control.

    The pen should be resting near the terminal joint of the middle (longest) finger – between the tip and joint. The index finger should be resting on and pointing to the tip of the pen in a relaxed manner. The thumb and first two fingers should be supporting and guiding the pen with all three pointing toward the tip of the pen. The small finger and the one beside it should be used to comfortably support the hand on the paper. If a pen or pencil is held correctly, no fatigue or discomfort will be experienced even after hours and days of continuous writing – as done by clerks.

    1 REPLY
    • Bobbie, have you considered that the person holding the pen may have arthritis and therefore needs the extra support of more fingers? She is obviously elderly and, as such, I’m sure she would know, well and truly, how to hold a pen correctly.

  2. I still write letters and cards,it’s much more personal,
    I use a computer and I pad but have just started to write letters again.
    Last Christmas ,I only received a few cards,but lots of Christmas wishes on the e mail,and I myself was guilty of that for my over seas friends.
    And that’s when I thought ,I would start writing again,
    Lots of my friends say ,it’s because stamps are so expensive ,now
    But there is nothing like getting a card or a letter,to know someone is thinking about you,just at that moment when they took time to write your name.

  3. Much of this is Aust posts own fault their delivery system is a sham. Their customer service non existent

  4. I’ve always valued letters since I left home 55 years ago for boarding school aged 12. My mother wrote regularly, and I replied less religiously. While it’s true that emails and online greeting cards have taken over much of the everyday need for handwritten letters, I still think they are worth the effort.
    I write each week to my grandchildren (who are all under the age of 6). I have made this a long-term commitment. I am hoping some of them will eventually reply in kind.
    I recognise that Australia Post’s letter business is struggling, so while I use their concession stamps for these regular letters, when I am writing for a birthday or other celebration, I splash out on a $1 stamp suitable for the occasion.
    Rather than bemoan the passing of letters, I am doing something about it!

  5. I am almost 80 years old (or young if you compare it with the age of the universe!). I love writing. I do write to friends who love to receive handwritten mail. I write my shopping lists, I keep a Bible journal, because I study theology, I keep a notebook in my handbag when I go out to jot down things that come to mind. I learned to write at my convent school and everybody admires my handwriting which has never deteriorated over the years. It has never been superseded by my computer, which is being used for other things on a regular basis. I design my own greeting cards and always personalise them. My friends keep them because they appreciate the special messages and the decorations. I am blessed with good eyesight so I can do these things. If my eyes would deteriorate I might have to find other ways to keep in contact .i am sure modern technology will be a great help then.

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