Some of you may have met Sheila Lowe, who wears several hats. She’s a court-qualified handwriting examiner with more than forty years’ experience in the field. And she’s the author of a mystery series, published by Penguin, featuring forensic handwriting expert Claudia Rose.
I asked Sheila if there was any chance I could talk her into doing a thumbnail analysis of my Dad’s printing that I could use as the basis for a blog. Yes, printing rather than handwriting—Dad always preferred to print, and developed what I always thought was a particularly elegant, almost calligraphic hand. My heroine’s father was inspired by my dad, and I gave Dr. Langslow Dad’s printing. I never asked, and so may never know whether he printed because he felt his handwriting was too sloppy or whether it was merely the lifetime habit of a scientist who spent a great deal of time recording data and needed to do so neatly and precisely.
The writer was a perfectionist who took great care to do what he perceived was “right.” Once he decided who he wanted to be, he stuck with it and was consistent through the years. Even after the stroke that is mentioned, he struggled to maintain control. It was quite important to him to be very clear and precise, so he was willing to take the time and effort to explain himself—clearly, he had a lot to say. Good concentration.
There’s more to this handwriting than meets the eye. Although he may have been quite sociable, he wasn’t quite sure of how to relate to others, which is why he retreated into doing the right thing as a substitute for knowing. He had a youthful way of looking at the world, as if some part of him never quite grew up. Yet, we see hidden aggression in someone who, though basically an emotional person, might have had difficulty expressing his feelings openly due to his inner conflicts. He was probably more comfortable relating on an intellectual, rather than a feeling level.
Parts of her analysis immediately seem spot on, and other parts make me think, “Hmm . . . well, yes; that could be. Makes sense.”
Dad was, as I said, a scientist—a marine biologist whose specialty was studying oysters. He also had a reputation for the quality of his scientific writing—not only did he diligently craft and polish his own publications, but other scientists would often ask him to help them edit their publications. And since he grew up on a ranch in western Kansas, graduating from high school in the middle of the Depression and the Dust Bowl, it still astonishes me how hard he must have had to struggle to get through not just four years of college but also a Ph.D. program.
And I think Sheila’s also on target about his social skills—I think he was an interesting mix of sociability and shyness. A lot of his social life, particularly later in life, revolved around organizations he belonged to—the local birding group and the Virginia Native Plant Preservation Society. Genealogy was also a strong interest, and he enjoyed corresponding with the distant relatives who were tracing the same family histories.
And throughout his life he was a passionate gardener. I was able to give Sheila samples of his handwriting from his thirties to his eighties, thanks in part to the garden journals he kept for most of his adult life. I’m told that the first time he mentioned something other than gardening in them was when I was born. As time went on, more of his life crept into the journals, but still they remained at essentially a daily account of his garden, precise and meticulous records kept for his own use and enjoyment. For a biologist, a sort of busman’s holiday.
I didn't realize until I'd scanned it that I'd opened his garden diaries to such a dramatic page, the account of his stroke. He reacted to it in characteristic fashion. One day, he asked Mom, "What do you think of my driving?"
"Frankly, it scares me to death sometimes," Mom said. She later noted that if she'd had more time to think about it, she might have been more tactful. But maybe blunt was the right tactic.
"That's what I thought," Dad said. He handed her the keys and never drove again. I don't know of many people who have done this, and it certainly wasn't convenient. But he thought it was the only right thing to do.
So in short, I think it's a pretty good analysis of Dad.
If you, too, are fascinated by handwriting analysis, take a look at the live, online course Sheila’s offering, starting in a few days. Sheila says:
"If you've been wanting to know what your handwriting says about you, your partner, your boss, your mom...now's the perfect time. Life gets easier when you understand what movitates the important people in your life. Using a Zoom.us free account and web cam, I will share my nearly 50 years of experience and fascinating handwriting samples with you. You'll learn how to determine:
• Social attitudes
• Thinking style
• Sex drive
• Energy and organization
• Red flags for bad behavior"
No, I don’t get a kickback for recommending Sheila's course—I just think it’s way cool! And I’m tempted to take it myself . . . except that I expect to be a little bit swamped this spring, because in addition to writing my next book I just signed up for my local Citizens Police Academy. More on that later.
You can check out Sheila Lowe's books and classes at her website.
So are you tempted to learn more about handwriting analysis? Or are you resolving to find out who's taking the class and never again send them anything hand written?