Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Are You In It For The Long Haul? #SOL17
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Slice of Life: Are You In It For The Long Haul? #SOL17


One of the first signs we noticed was her handwriting.  We seemed to somehow miss the sign that she was posting reminder notes to herself all over the house.  What struck us and caused us to pause for the first time was the change in her handwriting.  It no longer looked like her handwriting.  It was shaky, hard to decipher and misspelled.  We knew something was wrong.  It was the beginning of a connect the dots puzzle that revealed a tragic picture.

I never thought much about a person’s handwriting until my mom lost her ability to write.  The feeling, the familiarity, and the comfort from seeing someone’s handwriting.  It is just something you come to know and expect.  As soon as you see it, your body responds viscerally.  You can hear the voice, see the expression and feel the emotion of the person.

Since my mom passed I long to see her handwriting.  I surround myself with card, notes, and recipes penned by her.  When I see it, I am immediately connected to her.  I am brought to a time and place when she is once again my mom.

An old Christmas card on my desk


A cookbook full of recipes I peruse each Sunday morning


A note she tucked in my bag as I left for college that I still keep in my wallet

 It makes me think about our world today.  How often do I handwrite a note?  Do my children even know my handwriting?  Would they connect to it as I connect to my mom’s handwriting? What will they connect to?  How will I remain in their hearts?

The world is ever changing and technology allows us to be closer in so many ways – text, phone calls and video chats.  Will these be imprinted in our memory in the same way?  I only remember one phone I had with my parents in college, but I remember so many of the notes, cards and letters.  I still have all those notes, cards and letters with me to cherish and remember each day.  I can google any recipe I want, but I love touching the paper my mother once touched as I plan my weekly menu.

Since experiencing this, I have made an effort to handwrite more often.  Morning messages to my family, recipes, notes in the books I give to my children as gifts, and weekly family “to-do” lists.  I want them to remember my handwriting and to be with me whenever they see it.  I know technology will make it easier for me to be in more frequent contact with my children when they move away in the near future, but I want to make sure that the memories I am creating are also in it for the long haul.


  • Avatar
    Susan Kennedy
    Posted at 09:39h, 24 March Reply

    I love how teachers know each of their students handwriting in my school. We will be looking at student work the name forgotten in the student’s haste to do the work and the teacher will immediately know the student. Handwriting is like a handprint left behind. I have cards from my mom and grandmother squirreled away in my bedside table. Their handwriting and words reaching out to me from the past. Their words still fresh. I rub my fingers over the print and feel that clutch in my chest.

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    Kevin Hodgson
    Posted at 09:58h, 24 March Reply

    Handwriting is personal, emotional, and something we do seem to be losing. And pen on paper is still a very tangible, visceral writing experience — the sense that “I am making this writing happen.” It’s confusing, because I love digital writing but still love paper writing, too.

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    Posted at 10:09h, 24 March Reply

    I love coming across a note or recipe with my mother’s handwriting. You are right. It’s so personal. It’s like she jumps right off the page. I can feel her there. What will happen now? I was even thinking about things like, “How would my children even find this blog with all my writing – much of it about them?” It lives in a different space. They may never find it. Unlike my notebooks that they will find on the bookshelves, and my lists and notes. I’ve also been thinking about the fact that people don’t have their books around any more. I’ll try a post about that.

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    Diane Dougherty
    Posted at 10:47h, 24 March Reply

    Clare, I had a similar epiphany a few months ago, I thought about the letters I’ve saved from my family and friends and wondered whether my grandchildren have ever even received a real letter. As a result, I have started writing letters to my grandchildren about once a month. They love getting them. I print for the beginning readers and write cursive for the older ones. Interestingly, two of the them have not learned cursive! I write anyway. They figure it out.
    Your mother’s recipe book looks well used. What a great connection to her. I feel close to my mom when I cook her recipes too.

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    Rose Cappelli
    Posted at 13:04h, 24 March Reply

    Clare, your posts somehow always bring me to tears. My mother had a distinctive handwriting. Whenever I come across it (usually on the back of a photograph, she is immediately right there beside me. I wish I had more examples to remind me. You are a treasure. Thank you for this post this morning.14

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    Lynne Dorfman
    Posted at 13:09h, 24 March Reply

    Clare, I never thought about handwritten messages this way. I, too, love to come across something from my mom and dad – even a dated check in my filing cabinet. My grandmother had the most beautiful handwriting I’ve ever seen. I think about all my writer’s notebbooks. I will certainly pass them on to my goddaughter one day. I have handnwritten recipes from Diane Dougherty – a wonderful Christmas gift this year.

    At one point in time, I knew every student by his/her handwriting. It is so hard in this age of electronic devices to fit in everything. You make a good case – creating memories for the long haul – how can anyone argue with that!

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    Leigh Anne
    Posted at 14:02h, 24 March Reply

    I have a drawer that is full of handwritten cards and notes. I also have recipes written by my mother-in-law and my husband’s grandma. Both of them were cooking influences in my life. What treasures we have.

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    Katherine Sokolowski
    Posted at 16:22h, 24 March Reply

    So many things to think of when reading this – how much I love my mom’s handwriting, how I want to get one of her recipes printed up on a kitchen towel, how important that connection is. I love that you made the goal of writing notes more. Did you see the interview on StoryCorps with AKR and her daughter? Her daughter got a tattoo in her mom’s handwriting. I love that.

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    Posted at 00:24h, 25 March Reply

    My mother is going blind, and her handwriting is changing so dramatically. Reading your post brought this back…I love the way you took your own loss and made something intentional and positive: writing to your own family more.

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    Carrie Gelson
    Posted at 01:03h, 25 March Reply

    This is really beautiful. I know the handwriting of my students within the first few months of school and it is kind of incredible to associate a person with their writing so easily. Those recipe cards must mean a lot.

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    Melanie Meehan
    Posted at 02:12h, 25 March Reply

    Love this post, Clare. You’ll appreciate this–during the last year of my dad’s life, we had family writing night, and I am almost finished filling up the Moleskin notebook that he started. I always look at his pages and his writing before I start my writing for the day. It ‘s a connection. Handwriting really does define us in many ways, and I know my girls will recognize mine.

    Larkin has been inconsistent about posting at best. That crazy life she’s living is getting more attention than her writing! She is having the time of her life!!!

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