The Letter Project

September 5, 2010

Special Delivery (65)

Filed under: Letters — Theresa Williams @ 1:01 am
Tags: , , , ,

Joan Fraser, Caitlin Griscom’s mother, responds to Caitlin’s letter.  Excited to receive Caitlin’s letter on  frigid Ohio night, Joan shares with her daughter her own love of literature and more.  She reveals what she sees as the writer’s purpose:

They [writers]  allow us to find ourselves through their work, feel less alone in the universe, or take a trip to another time or place.

Dearest Caitlin,

I arrived home later than usually tonight.  I bundled up against the frigid weather as I ran from my car to the mailbox (sometimes referred to as a post box).  And there, with perfect penmanship, I found a letter addressed to me with a BGSU return address.  As it didn’t have official university logos on it, I felt pretty confident it wasn’t a letter of discipline regarding my daughter.  No indeed…it was an informative and yet personally revealing letter from my dearest daughter.

I read the letter and then began reflecting on its content.  I am once again reminded of the similarities between us (some I have never even shared).  I decided to begin a letter in response in hopes of completing and mailing it tonight as I will be traveling by plane tomorrow and you never know….It’s not the falling from the sky that worries me, it’s the landing after the fall.

So the computer lights up…check the email…read the news headline that pops up…stopped.  JD Salinger died.  I became lost in the story…remembering his written words…odd how I just mailed a copy of Cater In the Rye to my stepson in college two days ago.  Literature…great literature.  The love of reading…oh yes, my daughter Caitlin.

You mentioned so many things in your letter.  In regard to Wright’s struggle with depression, Uncle Dallas and I questioned if being artistic and insightful made one mentally ill or did mental illness help with the creativity (this was when we were young, younger than you are now).  I recently completed the book Touched By Fire in which Kay Jamison (An Unquiet Mind) talks about madness and the creative impulse.  What a gift that comes from tragic internal struggles.

Wright is a perfect example of self-medicating his mental illness.  Alcohol is the most commonly used substance for self-medicating..for literary geniuses, the business man or the elementary school teacher.  You are related to some self medicators (please note: none are in you immediately family). 

You wrote of Wright’s ability to channel “his feelings into his poetry.”  I think that is true of so many writers.  I feel that often the reader enjoys a work because the writer either has touched upon something that strikes a familiar chord with the reader or the writer has written in a way that one is able to escape the difficulties of life, even if only for one reading of a poem or novel.  Writers write for themselves be it cathartic, egotistical, or for money.  But, good writers (as decided by individual readers) have the ability to give a gift to so many.  They allow us to find ourselves through their work, feel less alone in the universe, or take a trip to another time or place.

The most enjoyable thing for me in reading your letter is the reminder of how much you love to read.  As you know, Grandma Em encouraged her children to read.  I remember staying up all night reading (Really, all night.  You know, those books that are just too great to put down.  You have to remember to lift your head away from the book every once in a while as your vision becomes blurry and you feel you can’t readjust it…good times).  Our home videos demonstrate how important I feel that reading is…Picture in my head: my daughter sucking her fingers as we’re reading I Went Walking? And hearing you say with your special voice “What did you see?”

So..tomorrow I will get on the plane and have a sense of relief knowing that this letter will make its way to you regardless of the earth’s gravitational pull and it’s desire to have me sent hurdling to the ground.  I will think of you often during my trip.  As I pick-up my book to read on the plane, plug in my Ipod and hear a song that reminds me of you, or even as I take a side trip to Fort Meyers and go to Strandview and have memories of you as my Maid of Honor.  I love you.  I love the gifts that you share with me and with others.  I love that you enjoy reading.  And..I love reading what you write.

With the largest hug,


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