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There it was among the junk that arrives each delivery day, a simple, white envelope with my name neatly printed in the lower right quadrant. In this day of email and "tweet" communication received on an iPad or a smart phone that chirps an arrival to the virtual mailbox, finding a real letter in a real mailbox is something special.

His name is Kim Latta from Burlington, Iowa. His printed return address label has flowers and butterflies across the top of it and the postage stamp has the picture of a 1968 Ford F-150 pickup truck. "Mr." precedes the first name of Kim to distinguish this Kim is a man. He has a similar challenge to those named Pat, Chris, etc.

How nice! Kim took the time to write to me. Inside the envelope is a letter written in beautiful English cursive that spells out bits and pieces of life in Iowa with great attention to detail on where he is and where he is going. Facts about state fairs having the tradition of a different sculptured cow each year since 1911 or that it is the 50th anniversary of Star Trek this year are trivial, but interesting. The letter describes the life of an Independent Chapter member in random musings written in a living room in Burlington.

I first saw this name as I worked with the database of Independent Chapter members. From my entries with his name was an interest in pen-paling and antiques. Obviously, he had answered honestly. I had written Kim an email saying that my only connection to Burlington was a work friend who lived in Burlington had fallen off his roof and died there. In my hand was a letter to a basic stranger. And within the letter, a description of an upcoming day trip to an antique appraisal show in a nearby town with a picture of his very old twelve-inch beer mug inscribed with "Dick's Beer". He had marked "antiques" as an interest. My imagination must develop a mental picture of Kim since I know him by only the random facts he sends by email or hand written letters. He may be a man of movie star looks or be like the Phantom of the Opera's character. My mental image is of a beautiful man with a wonderful heart.

In the bustle of today's world, we are losing some things like letter writing or writing itself. My partner's granddaughter, Kaitlin, was so excited to have her driver's license when she visited and anxious to drive Papa Tim's 2003 Ford pickup. When given a grocery list and instructions on driving safety, she developed a quizzical look while trying to read the list. "I can't read this, Papa." The list was written in cursive. Most of Kaitlin's communicating is done online with abbreviated texts and a keyboard to make the letters. To our amazement, they don't teach cursive at her school anymore. What? Really! OMG!

In our changing world, we will adapt. Some will attempt to preserve tradition like the Chickasaws teaching their almost lost written and spoken Native American language. We who have grown up in today's ancient history, like the 23% of Independent members who marked "pen-paling" as an interest, are living history. Are you taking advantage of the opportunity to know a Kim who may just become a good friend across the miles? You, too, may be blessed with a beautiful letter and a glimpse of life in another place. It's a benefit of being a Prime Timer – if we take the time.

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