Simple Gestures

“That was the first time I got a letter in my mailbox,” said the man who had called me, his voice full of wonder and excitement. He was one of the adult learners in the literacy program where I worked, and I had sent the letter to congratulate him on passing the GED.

How sad, I thought, that this 29-year old man had never before received a letter. Even the way he expressed it sounded foreign to me—“I got a letter in my mailbox.” I would have said, “I got a letter in the mail.”

I thought of all the times I had reached into the mailbox and pulled out a card or letter, the joy in reading a friend’s news and that sense of connection.

The first personal mail I remember receiving was in the summer after second grade. A classmate, practicing her newly-acquired writing skills, sent me a post card when she was at her family’s cottage. Every summer after that, she continued the practice of sending me post cards.

I remember waiting for the mailman to arrive on summer days, anticipating my post card, the thrill of seeing something with my name written on it.

I was hooked; letter-writing became a part of my life, and even in this age of electronic communication, I still love to write and receive letters.

The other day I received two notes in the mail. One was a thank-you note from my niece for her birthday gift. The other was a mystery. The name in the return address was unfamiliar and piqued my interest.

It was from a woman I had met last week. A minivan was creeping along the street and stopped in front of my house just I was leaving with the dog for our afternoon walk. I approached, thinking they may need directions.

The driver explained that she had grown up in my house and she was bringing her mother on a “trip down memory lane.” Her mother related that she and her husband had moved into my house when they got married in 1957.

I shared what I knew of the neighbors—some of them had grown up on this street and are living in their parents’ homes—and I invited them in to see my home.

“Oh, no, we couldn’t do that,” said the daughter. I pleaded with them to come inside, thinking of how much I would love to go into my childhood home. They declined.

“Any time you want to come in,” I said, “please just let me know.”

Her note expressed their “good luck and good timing” that I was walking the dog when they were driving down the street and their gratitude for the updates on the neighbors.

Now that I have her address, I will write and invite her and her mother to come for a visit. I can almost imagine her delight at retrieving my note from her mailbox.



2 thoughts on “Simple Gestures

  1. Maria

    I love hearing from people in all different ways: phone calls, e-mails, texts. But my favorite is the postal mail. When someone contacts me that way, it shows that they used a little extra effort to compose their note, place it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and mail it, just so I could receive it. I agree with you. No matter how old you are, it’s always nice to get something personal in the mail.
    Peace, Maria


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