The Loving Art of Letter Writing
August 12, 2021 | By Mallery Nagle
Content originally appeared in Edmond Life & Leisure
You probably remember the last time you got something in the snail mail that wasn’t a bill or a piece of junk mail. Sadly, letter writing is a dying art form. Texts and e-mails have all but snuffed the life out of communication’s once scared trinity of pen, paper and postage stamp. But two women with Oklahoma ties are taking the lonely letter off of life support by breathing new air into “airmail.”
Edmond Memorial High School graduate Jordan Brodmerkel left Oklahoma to pursue her career in advertising in New York City. Her advertising agency has a history of doing a service project during an annual volunteer day. Two years ago, she and her co-workers put on a prom for LGBTQ independent living seniors in her adopted hometown. “It was an opportunity to connect with older people,” said the 32-year-old. “I enjoy that age group.”
Enter COVID-19 and its subsequent lockdowns, thus cancelling 2020 senior proms of all varieties all over the country.
But not even COVID could cancel Brodmerkel’s desire to connect with more “seasoned” citizens. That’s where her best friend Megan Carter came in. Carter is the lifestyle director for Concordia Life Plan Community in Oklahoma City. Brodmerkel asked Carter if any of her residents might be interested in becoming pen pals with her. Concordia resident Catherine Filer volunteered.
Brodmerkel acknowledged that letter- writing may be an unusual pursuit for a Millennial. “It’s an opportunity to write a longer form of communication and form a more meaningful relationship,” she said of using a pen and paper to correspond. “It’s engaging another part of my brain,” she added, pointing to the fact that she spends most days typing on a computer.
Filer is Brodmerkel’s first pen pal, and she said she learned that you can continue to make new friends no matter how old you are or how far apart you live. Despite the generation gap between the women, Brodmerkel learned they had similar interests and pandemic experiences. Both are avid readers and both missed family terribly during lockdown.
Filer never had an official pen pal either. She and a cousin in Kansas corresponded during their high school years, and she writes an annual Christmas letter.
The correspondence began around the 2020 holiday season, and they shared stories of traditions that were being broken and of feeling isolated at that time of year. Brodmerkel said it helped to realize she was not the only one grieving missed holiday festivities.
“It was such a lonely time,” Filer said when she and Brodmerkel first started writing to one another. “I had only been at Concordia (a short time) when the pandemic started. It was very hard to be cut off from family, especially my grand- and greatgrandchildren, as well as my church friends.”
The two pen pals got the opportunity to meet face-to-face this summer when Brodmerkel came back to town for a visit. She said it’s nice to be able to visualize her pen pal’s face and home when she writes or reads a letter. The meeting allowed the two to connect on a more personal level. She called the experience “incredible.”
“It was a pleasure to meet Jordan,” Filer said. “She could be one of my grandchildren easily. I wrote to her about all of them, so she knew their names and ages. She was always interested in them and what they were doing. They are 38 to 3 with a great grandson due at the end of the month.”
The pen pals plan to continue their long-distance friendship although COVID restrictions are tapering off. “I just mailed a letter earlier this week telling Jordan how much I enjoyed meeting her and how much it meant to me to be her friend through letters,” Filer said. “It was also special how it started through friends. Her friend, Megan, who is our activities director at Concordia and Jordan met in high school, and Jordan and I ended up making a friendship connection through letters.”
The Millennial discovered that getting something personal in the snail mail is pretty terrific. “It’s the anticipation,” Brodmerkel said. “It’s exciting and nice to get something besides your Amazon boxes.”