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  • Katherine Dudley Hoehn

The Postcard Connection

Updated: Apr 5

Henry's postcard message, "My birthday party was fun. I blew out candles on my cake. Do you love cake, Great Grandmother?"

In her 90’s, Mom was fading and craving connections with her children and grandchildren. When her first grandchild became a father, she was ecstatic and great grandson Henry became the focus of our conversations, usurping anything else I had to say!

At the time, I lived near Henry and his parents and saw him on a regular basis. He quickly became accustomed to having a camera lens pointed his way as I did my grandmotherly duty of recording every little thing.

She loved photos and stories, so I started a postcard correspondence between Mom, in Florida, and weeks-old Henry, in Virginia, using an app that allowed me to upload personal photos and create messages from Henry. Henry’s message on the back would reflect the photograph’s theme or his latest activity and engage her with a question such as, “Did you love bugs when you were little, Great Grandmother?”

On my daily calls, she usually asked about Henry first. Occasionally, after a few postcard-less days, she would say, “I miss getting my Henry postcards! Do you think he is tired of writing?”

Mom amassed many postcards as Henry aged. Her caregiver helped her file them in a binder of clear plastic holders, so she could see the front and back sides and share them with anyone who would look.

When Mom finally got to meet Henry, she was over the top with excitement. She told me later that she thanked him for the postcards. By then six months old and writing more mature cards, he responded to her with appropriate babble.

A few years later, I moved to Florida and Mom moved in with me. Naturally, she brought her prized collection of Henry cards. He continued to send her cards to my house, although she was less able to distinguish the new cards from the older ones.

Once, wearing her funny “Mom knows everything” smile, she said, “Henry sure is a good writer for a little boy.” Just as we never spoke about who Santa really was, we never talked about the source of the Henry cards but I think she knew.

As she grew weaker, Mom failed most days to remember who I was, but always knew Henry, the boy who wrote her postcards. She was giddy with excitement when she received one in the mail.

Looking at the postcards now, I remember how much fun I had writing, the joy they brought to Mom in her toughest years and how special it was that I was able to share my Henry time with her and give him all the credit.

Mom and Henry meet

Henry's postcard message after they met

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Loved the blog. My grandmother was a great post card writer - got card from all over the world - wish I had them now!

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