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These friends wrote letters for 70 years. With one pen pal gone, the other encourages connection

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These friends wrote letters for 70 years. With one pen pal gone, the other encourages connection

Victoria Ryczak and Kathleen Wallace first started writing letters in 1950 when they were 12 years fashioned. Wallace died on Feb. 22, 2021, after 70 years of a friendship spent two provinces away.

Early Newspaper
Victoria Ryczak’s expensive pal Kathleen Wallace died in February. The two had written letters since they were 12, in 1950. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Victoria Ryczak remembers being lonely as a 12-one year-fashioned in 1950. She lived near Amsterdam, Sask., about 322 kilometres east of Saskatoon, on an isolated farm.

Then one day, her father introduced dwelling a subject of the Winnipeg Free Press that had an advert from an Alberta girl taking a detect for a pen pal. Ryczak made up our minds to present it a are trying. 

The two corresponded for a while, till the Alberta girl saw an advert for a pen pal she thought would possibly well be a nearer match for Ryczak. She connected Ryczak with Kathleen Wallace, who lived in Ontario.

Ryczak and Wallace shared a definite connection. 

“We were born on June 2, 1938, the connected day, the connected age,” stated Ryczak, 82. “That’s why I order we’re twins. So perchance that had plenty to enact with the blueprint we connected.”

After 70 years of correspondence, Ryczak misplaced her pal last month. She hopes their story can also encourage others to jot down letters all over borders, as a mode of combatting loneliness at some point soon of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kathleen, she became care for a confidante. We focus on the trials and tribulations.– Victoria Ryczak

When Ryczak started writing with Wallace, she would possibly well now not deem how principal the two had in overall. They were both left-handed, lived on farms, and had the connected suggestions, household values and sure attitudes. They wrote about school and the relaxation that got right here to mind. 

“Kathleen, she became care for a confidante. We focus on the trials and tribulations,” Ryczak stated. “What a aesthetic particular person she became and how principal she gave of herself to each person.”

The letters grew to change into few and a long way between as the two grew older, were married and started their households, however they by no formulation misplaced contact. In 1967, Ryczak had the probability to eradicate some local students to the Montreal Expo and stopped by Ottawa to meet Wallace in particular person. 

Ryczak holds a characterize of when she, pictured left, and Wallace first met in 1967, 17 years after their friendship started. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

The years passed by with the two calling and writing from their hang properties. Ryczak’s husband died and she or he started working as a caterer. Wallace’s household persevered to develop. At age 65, they made up our minds it became time to peep every other again. Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter’s marriage ceremony.

“I jumped at the probability,” Ryczak stated. “I hadn’t considered them for a in reality very long time. So I’m walking around the airport and I thought, ‘Gee, will I be in a plight to search out them?’ But then I heard Kathleen keep in touch and I identified her impart and I became around. Here she became.”

Ryczak, left, and Wallace were so close that Wallace invited Ryczak to her daughter’s marriage ceremony. The two are shown at the reception. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak)

Ryczak stayed for a total month. She then went abet again for Wallace’s 50th marriage ceremony anniversary. Quickly after that social gathering, Wallace’s husband had a stroke and died. 

Throughout the years, the two friends tried to living up a consult with to Saskatchewan for Wallace, however together with her husband gone and a farm stout of animals to have a tendency to, it wasn’t that you just’ll be imagine. 

“She continually stated she became going to advance and consult with me. That’s my ideal feel sorry about, that she by no formulation got right here to peep Saskatchewan,” Ryczak stated. 

2021 starts off with delicate information

In the course of the pandemic, the friends talked more usually than before. Then something changed in January. 

After now now not listening to from Wallace for 10 days, Ryczak obtained a call from Wallace’s daughter. Wallace had suffered a stroke and became in palliative care. 

“I became essentially terrified. I could well now not pause crying. And that is the reason one thing, I by no formulation roar,” Ryczak stated. “But when she obtained that stroke I could well now not pause crying.”

Over the years, Ryczak had about a alternatives to peep Wallace in particular person, however Wallace by no formulation made it to Saskatchewan to consult with. (Heidi Atter/CBC)

Wallace died on Feb. 22, 2021. 

Ryczak stated Wallace phoned her the Friday before that.

“She stated, ‘I’m death and I similar to you, Victoria.’ I could well now not deem she stated that, and I stated, ‘No, you are now now not. You continue to pray to advance to consult with me.'” Ryczak stated.

“I essentially thought that she became going to obtain successfully.”

Ryczak stated the past one year has been delicate. She misplaced other friends as successfully, however Wallace’s loss of life became extremely delicate. 

“To me, it be going to be devastating,” she stated. “Infrequently you deem up the phone and impart and there acquired’t be anyone to keep in touch to anymore.”

Ryczak, left, and Wallace at age 65. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak)

How letters can connect us

Ryczak stated that in these days of pandemic and isolation, more folks must mute shield in mind writing or talking to others, in particular all over provincial borders. 

“For these who contact anyone, you desire to be your self,” Ryczak stated. “That you must ensure and you want to mute sign other folks’s feelings, now now not ideal your hang.”

Erica Dyck, a University of Saskatchewan historical past professor that has studied historic letter writing, stated letters can also also be effective in combating isolation. 

“Letter writing requires a roughly attention. Or now now not it is miles a tiny formal, however it completely’s moreover reasonably an intimate course of,” she stated.

Two of the six Canada Post postcard designs being despatched out to Canadians all over the country, which will be mailed for free. (Canada Post)

Dyck stated a novel Canada Post initiative to recount Canadians 13 million postcards that can then be mailed for free is a aesthetic opportunity to connect with others. Dyck stated folks must mute write about mundane crucial aspects that they can also now now not think are alive to however can also very successfully aid others feel connected. 

“The more we can atomize down these barriers of isolation and remind these that we’re taking into consideration of them and connecting with them even after we can’t physically be together, I suspect these are essentially crucial social coping mechanisms that can aid us proceed past COVID.”

Ryczak stated she will’t deem the place the time went with Wallace. What started as two 12-one year-fashioned girls looking pen pals bloomed dependable into a lifelong friendship. 

“Optimistically she’s in peace,” Ryczak stated. “It became a privilege to be her pal.”

Wallace with two of her grandchildren. She died on Feb. 22, 2021. (Submitted by Victoria Ryczak)

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These friends wrote letters for 70 years. With one pen pal gone, the other encourages connection