LETTERS LOST, THEN FOUND
By Kat Stickroth
Last fall I told my writing mentor, Barbara, that I wanted a book project for 2016. I shared some ideas, and she recommended the story of my great-great uncle Marvin, who was killed in WWI and posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the second highest commendation from the Army.
I asked my son, Sam, in Texas to mail me the box of family history I had left with him during my move up here. His wife mailed the contents in three separate boxes.
Only two arrived.
Sam texted me a photo of a shred of cardboard with my address on it, a notification from the postal service that the box was damaged and the items lost.
In examining the two boxes, I realized the most important things for me to complete the project were missing- the original letters between Marvin and his family, photos and news clippings I had researched and found, and the transcript of the letters I had typed fifteen years ago.
“Oh well,” I regretted. “I guess God doesn’t want me to write that book.”
Three weeks ago, I received a voicemail from a woman named Mallory saying she had some contents I might be interested in. She didn’t identify who she worked for, so I was puzzled about who she might be.
When I returned the call, she said she worked for a research company who contracts with shipping companies. When contents without a box or any identification are found during the shipping process, the items are sent to her company to research and find the proper owner.
“What do you think was in the missing box?” she asked.
“A packet of faded letters wrapped with a ribbon, old photos and news clippings,” hope answered. “I was going to write a book about those.”
“Yes, I have those, plus the letters typed up. They are so fascinating and will make a great book!” she said happily.
After giving her the tracking number to confirm my ownership, as well as my address, I received the shipment this past Tuesday. When I pulled the top packing off, there was the packet of letters- letters which spent decades on the mantle of the family fireplace, were placed in my hands 25 years ago, traveled to Montana, back to Mississippi, to Texas, then who-knows-where, and finally here. Finally home, with me.
“Tell the story we hold,” they say.
Originally published January 27, 2016 in the La Grande Observer newspaper. Reprinted with permission.