Whenever I received a letter from Shirley, I treasured it and none were ever discarded. Instead they were saved in my memory box, both the mental one in my head, and the physical one in my closet. After her death, rereading her letters brought her back to me in sharp perspective. Only one of her letters got away from me and that was when I was documenting them in preparation for my book. I think I know where it went, and maybe someday, the person who took it will return it to its rightful owner. Shirley's handwriting was distinctive. She worried about it constantly because as child she didn't not get to practice her cursive writing as a result of her disocciative identity disorder. As Shirley grew older, it became difficult for her to write due to physical limitations, so sometimes she typed, worrying just the same about her typing and her spelling. Her handwriting often reflected her mental state...agitated, or calm and flowing. Below is one of the first letters I received from her. My last was in 1998, the month before she died.
October 2, 1971
"I wondered numerous times during the summer just what you were doing - and where you'd be for the coming school year. I can imagine you packed and unpacked and packed and unpacked! I've moved enough times to know all that can be involved in that kind of activity - including looking for a new school position!"
Shirley mentioned her handwriting often.
"My writing is big and uneven - sorry but
my hands are stiff with knobby crooked finger joints and an index finger that won't fold down anymore."