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A lost identity

I love my computer. I love the ease with which I can compose and correct. I love the ability to share my work with the touch of a button. So I have absolutely no nostalgia about the old typewriter. What I do miss, is hand-written communication. Every now and then I open a book and I will see a note in the front written by my mother. Even before I see the signature I know it is from my mother. Those particular loops and and lines are part of her identity. It has been almost three years since she died so the sight of her handwriting is what I have left now that I no longer hear her voice.

A recent such event got me to thinking about my own handwriting. I have very nice handwriting. I have made a great effort to avoid having "doctor's handwriting". Back when we were a military family on the move every couple of years and I was still practicing medicine I would be the new doc in town on a rather frequent basis. Inevitably, the office or clinic where I worked would get a phone call from a local pharmacist to confirm my existence. There would be some question because of my handwriting. Neat and legible handwriting always threw the pharmacists for a loop and they would want to make sure the prescription was not a forgery.

Over the years I have filled out recipe cards in my own unique script. I had visions that my children or grandchildren would someday look at these cards as they prepared our favorite family recipes. I am now realizing that it is much more likely that my offspring will be looking at their computers, iPads, or phones when they cook. Instead of looking at my own loops and lines they will be looking at "Ariel" or "Times New Roman".

I have conflicted feelings about this. I use the Chrome app "tsp." to organize and collect my recipes. Even many of those that I have lovingly transcribed into my recipe book can be found online since I gathered them from my favorite magazines. I can use tags to organize a given recipe into multiple categories. I can share these recipes with friends and family in an instant. This system is immensely more practical than my collection of cards in plastic sleeves held together in a three-ring binder. That three-ring binder was transported from duty station to duty station in our car and never entrusted to the movers since I could not risk losing my kitchen brain trust. Now the recipes are indelibly etched in the internet cloud and impervious to spills and splatters.

So the rational part of my brain celebrates this technological progress. It is a good thing. But my emotional self longs for the warmth of ink on paper. I suppose since the kids are not being taught cursive in school anymore, future generations would have trouble reading my handwriting no matter how neat and pretty it is. And I accept that I will only rarely see the products of their hands since most of our communications is now via email and texts. But in the process of this technological revolution they have lost a part of me and I have lost a part of them. I find that sad.


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