February is the month of cupids, valentines, hearts and flowers, a fitting time to share one of my favorite words – fondly. Fondly is an adverb with an interesting history. In the mid-14th century it was defined as foolishly. During the late 1500’s it took on the meaning affectionately. That in itself is reason for me to love the word. Was it deemed foolish to be affectionate? A whimsical thought!
But that’s not why I’m fond of this word. It’s in my list of favorites because it’s gotten me out of some awkward situations. Let me explain.
Valediction or closing: Here’s where fondly becomes a lifesaver – well maybe that’s extreme –helpful. When I write a business or other formal letter I close the letter with little thought of what to say: Sincerely is my go-to. Others may use Yours Truly, Respectfully or Regards. If I’m sending an e-mail to a dear friend or family member I’m very likely to sign off with the same ease using Love, Love you or simply xoxo as my close.
Here comes the tricky part. How do you sign off when it’s not a formal letter and it’s not the love of your life? Perhaps you’ve reconnected with an old friend or your writing to someone special in your life but they’re not quite as close as a family member. Now what? Sometimes it depends on my mood. I must admit there are days when I’m just feelin’ the love and will sign off Love to just about anyone. If they are important enough for me to write to, then they’re worthy of the closing Love.
There are other days when I’m in a very literal kind of mood. On those days I decide that ‘Love’ is only fitting for those nearest and dearest to my heart – you know, the ones you’d give your life for. Then my closing will be something more generic: Best wishes, Enjoy the day or My Best.
Then there are the days when you’d think I was a philosopher or analyst. I write a perfectly composed email to a close acquaintance, am ready to hit the send button but right before typing my name I get stuck. Do I write Love? Well no, I don’t really love them as I love my family. Do I write Sincerely? No! That sounds so formal with no indication that I like them. I can’t sign off Like You, Roberta. That sounds dumb. I could spend fifteen minutes writing the email and thirty trying to decide how to sign off!
That’s when the word fondly comes to the rescue. It gives the impression that you really care about the person but doesn’t seem as over the top as Love or as formal as Sincerely. Perfect, don’t you agree?
So the next time you’re stuck signing off on a letter or email consider my lifesaver, fondly. I know it’s an “old” word but most of our best language is and it beats See-ya, Ciao or Later Bro!
Wishing Everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day! Fondly, Roberta
Roberta Dolan is a former special education teacher with a master’s degree in counseling. As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Roberta has made it her mission to end the silence of sexual abuse, lend support to survivors, and educate others on preventing child sexual abuse through seminars, her blog, Write to Survive, and website www.RobertaDolan.com. Say It Out Loud: Revealing and Healing the Scars of Sexual Abuse (She Writes Press 2014) is Roberta’s first book. A unique blend of memoir and how-to, the book offers strategies for healing from any type of personal trauma. Roberta is available to speak to book clubs, women’s groups and organizations on Healing and the Power of Saying it Out Loud.