Hoping You’ll Remove the Cork

Dear Will:

It was November, 2000. Bob Tucker was the bishop of the Orange 2nd Ward and I was one of his counselors. At some point in some conversation during some meeting we started talking about you—or somebody like you—and before I knew it I had volunteered to write a letter every month or so to keep you and others like you in touch with the ward. You know—just in case.

It seems to me that originally there were 18 people on my list of pen pals. Now, more than five years and 60+ letters later, that list has grown to around 35. Over time, several have moved away.  One passed away. A few of you have written back from time to time, and a couple have met me for lunch a time or two. One guy used to mail me multi-page rebuttals and another sent a one sentence note asking me to please buzz off. I’ve gotten the occasional phone call with a quick question or a request. But in most cases, I hear nothing at all. I always wonder how you are, what’s going on in your life, if there’s anything I can do to help you out. And I often wonder if you even bother to read my notes.

I enjoy the opportunity to correspond with you. I feel almost as if I have my own monthly column to muse about whatever strikes me as interesting or amusing, without the burden of a persnickety editor or a looming deadline. And I can’t begin to tell you how excited I feel when I get a response. It’s like I’ve stuck a message in a bottle and someone actually—finally—removed the cork.

The other day, for example, I got a call from a woman who lives in south Orange County. I did not know her nor had I ever heard of her. Her surname was unfamiliar to me. She was asking for my help in obtaining some assistance from the other members of our ward on behalf of her son. To be honest, as she spoke I thought to myself: “Um, why is she calling me?”

It was only later in the call that I discovered—to my great delight—that this woman is related to one of you. I cannot begin to describe for you the excitement with which I took on the task of helping this new friend and her son. It was an honor, and what’s more, I felt it was a confirmation that writing these letters is worth it. I would say, in fact, that if that were the only communication I got as a result of my 60-some notes, that one phone call was compensation enough. More than enough.

I bring this up because I want to remind you (or inform you) that I really am here to lend a hand if you can use me. Please don’t hesitate to call or send me an email—or mail me a rebuttal, if you feel so moved. Whether it is with a request or a simple hello or an update on your life, I would really love to hear from you some time. But if not, no big deal. I write these letters without expectation, and I hope that you read them without a sense of obligation. And even if I never hear from you at all, I will continue to write, every month or so. You know—just in case.

PW

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