What to write on notes to family members who are ill / recuperating?
October 16, 2013 8:08 PM   Subscribe

I have 2 family members on a different continent who are recovering from major (different) surgeries. One is an aunt in her 70s, the other is a cousin in her late 20s. They're both bed-bound and will be for a while. I can't do much from where I am, but do want them both to know I am thinking of them, and do something to brighten their days, even if briefly. I've been writing and mailing postcards or cards every 2/3 days, but am running out of useful/interesting things to say....

The reason I am sending snail mail as opposed to email / phone call is that there's no obligation on their part to respond / be alert / engage unless they want to - this is not about adding more to their plates. I really want to keep this going - relatives who are geographically closer and seeing both of them indicate it's appreciated.
I found a bunch of sweet or funny cards and postcards, but I am starting to run out of things to write on them:
1) 'Thinking of you' or 'get well soon' seems obvious and non-helpful
2) for a while, I did little notes about the subject of the card esp if it was a subject of mutual interest - for example, for my cousin, a note about cats on one of these cards

I feel awkward talking about day-to-day aspects of our lives, as that feels like I am running in the fact of my 'normal' life. I'd love any ideas or suggestions of notes to write that would be tactful and hopefully cheerful
posted by darsh to Society & Culture (12 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I've printed out small versions of funny ecards or other memes and glued them to postcards and mailed. Maybe with a funny handwritten note or drawing. They've always gone over well.
posted by raisingsand at 8:26 PM on October 16, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was bed-ridden for a few months and I enjoyed getting riddles/puzzles to think about. Maybe you could send a series of postcards that all have clues to something.
posted by thewestinggame at 8:35 PM on October 16, 2013

You might reconsider writing some day-to-day stuff. Your aunt and cousin are aware that life is continuing for others, and they are maybe following fictional characters' day-to-day lives on TV or in movies, so why not a little of your real life with real commentary? Also, maybe some kind of puzzle, especially for Cousin. Just a thought. Riddles, jokes, as suggested above-- I'd keep it to where it's not terribly time-consuming. You don't want to put them to work, but a light challenge can be fun! Another thought: make your own card. Cut a hole in the front, so a fragment of a picture pasted on the inside is visible. It's a game where you guess what the picture is before seeing the whole thing. Getting mail is fun. You're doing a good thing!
posted by little_dog_laughing at 8:50 PM on October 16, 2013

Also, I'm in a similar situation with someone I send letters to. I can't say I write the best letters ever, but I do write often. Sometimes I'll just comment on a story I heard on the radio, or a segment from the Travel Channel that I saw at work. The mysterious circumstances around President Harding's death in San Francisco... Or, so-&-so gave an interview on NPR and can you believe... [whatever]. Whatever I find interesting throughout the day: personal interactions, bits from a book or newspaper-- I make a mental note to possibly share in a letter. If it's something I'd babble about in person, I can write about it in my own voice and the recipient can feel like they're having a one-sided conversation with me about _____. Noisy neighbors, a cute dog, an awesome tree. You name it.
posted by little_dog_laughing at 9:01 PM on October 16, 2013 [2 favorites]

posted by little_dog_laughing at 9:11 PM on October 16, 2013

Might try short jokes? There are a bunch of past threads to peruse for ideas, just click the tag "jokes" from that post.
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:59 PM on October 16, 2013

I had a lot of fun with a somewhat similar dilemma last summer when I decided to try mailing different postcards from different mailboxes each day. I could then write about either where or why I picked that particular postcard ("I bought this from the Walgreens across from my office" or "This card was sitting in a free box outside of the food co-op") and then I could also write about the mailbox ("I'm mailing this from the mailbox next to the grocery store... I wonder if it will get there more slowly than the one I mailed you yesterday from the box across from City Hall"). I guess it was sort of mundane, but I had fun with it and I'm sure my genuine enthusiasm at least sort of came across in my writing.
posted by gubenuj at 11:02 PM on October 16, 2013

Another vote here for reconsidering writing about daily life: heck, they both KNOW they're ill, they've both probably gotten tons of every version of 'get well soon' you can think of, they'd both probably love something ELSE to occupy their minds.

No need to send long detailed letters, since you're writing a couple times weekly; just short notes or funny stories about what the kids or the dog did, items of interest in the news or stuff like crossword puzzles. (Speaking of kids: if you do have some, have THEM write now and then --- even a kindergartener can 'write' a letter, or they could draw a picture.)
posted by easily confused at 12:47 AM on October 17, 2013

My Dad used to send us letters at camp about all the cool stuff my folks were doing while we were away. They were fantastical adventures and silly and fun. Think of it as a small serialization of a short story.

You could start out "it seemed like any normal day" and then have it spin into something silly.

It's fun and you can use the same story for both.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:25 AM on October 17, 2013

What about sending a photographic tour of your city/town/area?. It might take you an afternoon to take the photos, but then you could print them out at a photo place, and send one or two photos each day, with a bit written about it (you don't have to say you toured all the places one day). Maybe enclose a map where they/you can mark where you and the virtual them, has been. Sort of an adult version of 'Flat Stanley'... Perhaps while taking the photos you'll come across little things (the free trail guide at the park entrance? The museum map?) that would make their virtual visit seem a little more involved.
posted by Northbysomewhatcrazy at 6:38 AM on October 17, 2013

Oh, if you do the virtual Flat Stanley, you should find a photo of your relative and include it in each photo. Either bring a physical photo with you to pose in the area as you snap the pictures, or photoshop them in later.
posted by CathyG at 6:57 AM on October 17, 2013

How about writing about the different national days? Today is either Get Smart about Credit day or National Pasta Day depending on which website you're looking at.

This link has info about different days.
posted by MadMadam at 7:46 AM on October 17, 2013

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