Pen Pals For 18 Years Meet For The First Time, But For A Heartbreaking Reason

Anyone remember pen pals?

Long before the days of email and FaceTime and Skype, people who lived long distances away from each other actually sent handwritten letters to keep their long-distance friends posted on life developments.

Usually, at least for the ones that lasted, there was some type of connection between the two people corresponding. Maybe they knew each other before and moved away. Maybe they were extended family. But inevitably, these relationships would go strong for a time and then fade out.

That’s not the case for two of the most unlikely pen pals you’ll ever meet.

Norman Fikes was 61 when he began corresponding with 11-year-old Nicole. Norman fashioned himself a writer and saw an ad in the newspaper that a class project in New York was seeking pen pals to teach students about people from other states.

He signed up, and he and his wife Bobbie began tracking the young lady’s progress over a number of years — 18, to be exact.

A holiday or birthday or special occasion would not pass without some type of correspondence. Nicole proved herself a thoughtful young lady during the course of nearly two decades. One example: on Norman’s birthday, she asked him what he wanted and he jokingly said “either a Cadillac or a Rolls-Royce.”

Nicole bought him one of each — toy models that Norman proudly displayed to KVUE with a laugh.

Over time, Norman and Bobbie got to see Nicole in photographs and hear from her through letters and the occasional phone call. They “watched” as a sweet young 11-year-old blossomed into a caring 29-year-old adult.

Through all that, the two pen pals never met — until this month.

Unfortunately, the letters and cards are no longer a two-way street. Norman is nearly 80-years-old, and he’s been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, so his hands shake too much for him to continue the correspondence.

Unwilling to give up the relationship with her adopted grandparents, Nicole arrived in Bastrop, Texas, this week to cry tears of joy as she hugged the neck of the man she’s gotten to know intimately despite the 1,600-mile distance that separates them.

Pen Pals

The images above capture their first-ever meeting, but if you want to see the video — prepare to shed a few tears — you’ll have to click here.

Did you ever have a pen pal? Do you still correspond with them? Share your experiences in our comments section, and do you know any pen pals, who can top Norman and Nicole’s touching story?