I had a publishing company with my mom and my sister. After we experienced our first business crisis, my mom wrote me a letter—not a typed letter, a handwritten note from her heart. That letter was a turning point in my young career. She had never written me a letter before and I have never shared the letter with anyone and have only briefly mentioned it to a few close friends. I’d like to share some of it with you with the hope that it will inspire you just as it has done for me.
She began the letter “Today you faced a crisis in your business, and when I watched how you handled it, I was just overwhelmed at how proud I am of you.”
She also wrote “I just want you to know you are the best daughter a mother could possibly ask for. I’m not just proud of your talent, I’m proud of you as a person, not only for the way you’ve always treated me, but for the way you treat other people.”
Those are formidable words to hear from your mom—powerful to hear from anyone really.
In this article I won’t cite some study that reinforces the power of the pen or how words can heal. In this article I rely solely on an N of one, a testimonial, an anecdote so significant that even words, words that can be so powerful, cannot begin to describe the impact of that letter—a letter that is nestled in a locked safe alongside my critical documents.
At the time she wrote me that letter, an acquaintance of hers had won $150,000 in the lottery so she ended the letter by telling me that if she had won that money she would invest it in my business because she was so confident that I was going to be a success. And then she wrote, “Thank you for being you.”
I’ve re-read the letter several times—times when my confidence had faltered and I needed her reassurance.
On January 6, 2013, we will observe the 18th anniversary of my mom’s death. She was a hard working factory worker who had six children and many grandchildren. When she died, people were lined up out the door and down the block to pay respects to her because she was a kind, loving and spiritual human being.
She wasn’t a writer, and yet she took the time to give me a gift that is not only immensely impactful, it is timeless.
This holiday season, write a letter to someone you care about. Your gratitude is more valuable than anything else you could give them. Trust me, I know this with all of my being and I have the proof locked away in a safe place.