There is nothing more depressing than going to the mailbox daily, absolutely convinced that today is going to be the day there will be some kind of envelope, any kind of envelope, addressed to you, only to find…nothing. Nothing but cobwebs. Again.
I first became acquainted with that daily letdown when I was in college, trooping to the mailroom from the dining hall after lunch each day, watching with envy as my roommates pulled piles of mail from their boxes and turned in little yellow slips at the window to collect care packages from home. At that stage of my life, I didn’t even have monthly bills or random junk mail to sweep away the cobwebs.
Now there are plenty of bills and piles of unsolicited junk mail waiting most days in the box at the end of the driveway. But there’s always a thrill when hidden among them is an envelope with a real stamp in the corner and a handwritten address across the front. Real mail. Real mail brings joy. Real mail shows that someone cares enough to take the time to drag out pen and paper to share their thoughts when they could have just as easily been banging away at a keyboard instead. Real mail shows that someone cares enough to spend…what is it now?…49 cents?…to reach out across the miles rather than hitting the SEND button for free. I love real mail.
So did my grandma. After she moved from her own house into a retirement complex, she relished stopping at the mailbox in the front lobby after lunch each day. If she only pulled the latest Macy’s flyer from her box, her shoulders would sag ever so slightly in disappointment. To her, real mail meant that she hadn’t been stuffed away in a corner and forgotten by her friends and family. Real mail was her connection to the outside world when she was no longer independent enough to go out into it on her own. Real mail was love.
Grandma is gone now, but I think of the hundreds of elderly folks, just in my area, who are living in the same type of retirement complexes as she did. Folks who might not be able to go out much any more. Folks who might be far away from their loved ones. Folks who might have outlived most, if not all, of their friends. Folks who might be craving some real mail to show that they are not forgotten.
I got in contact with a friend who works in just such a community, and through some collaboration with the center’s director, she got me a list of residents who could use some real mail to clear out the cobwebs in their mailboxes. I am in the process of hand-writing notes to 18 residents, just so they can open their mailboxes later this month and pull out some real mail. It’ll be mail from a stranger, but I hope that the stamp in the corner and the handwritten address across the front will still bring a moment of joy.
In an attempt to overwrite all the negative feelings I have about April, I have made a pledge to complete 26 random acts of kindness this month. Reporting on these acts is the theme of my participation in this year’s April A to Z Challenge. If what you read here inspires you to commit your own RAoKs this month, please share what you’ve done in the comments. Together, we can rewrite April’s legacy!
If you’d like to check out how some other bloggers are responding to the A to Z Challenge, click here. Beware, there are 2107 participants at the time of this posting…I accept no responsibility for the hours you are likely to lose once you start browsing! 🙂