Larry, the mailman was in rush on Dec 23, But we waved him down!
Here are a few folks from my Sugar Land Quilt Group, with a special note and a box of candy for Larry. What led to this encounter? A little nostalgia and brainstorming.
A Mail Theme for the Quilt Group
In early December I gathered my favorite group of seniors around the quilt covered table, then scattered old letters and postcards.
Memory is a tricky thing for these friends with Alzheimer's, but it's amazing to see how a letter opener, sealing wax, pictures of postmen and mailboxes can trigger memory!
We did a lot of laughing. I shared a box of over 100 unusual and mostly silly postcards my mother collected over the years.
Letters to Baby
We looked at some sweet letters written to children.
And letters, written by children.
We talked about all the different kinds of mailboxes, from flagged boxes at the end of the drive... to mail slots in the door.
Remembering Mailmen from the Past
Some remembered having the same mailman year after year and calling him by name. I remembered my postman teasing me as he delivered my letters which were addressed to my nickname, Loon. We talked about mail carriers dealing with weather and unleashed dogs. One resident said, every Christmas her daughter baked shortbread for the mailman.
I admitted, I rarely see my mail carrier. She delivers my mail to a collection of locked boxes around the corner. I can see her from my window, wearing a large round hat shielding from the Texas sun. I'm sure she gets frustrated when I forget to pick up my mail and she has to squeeze in a new batch.
We began to feel sorry about our neglected mail carriers.
Mail Carriers Today
The next week we worked on a letter to give to the mail carrier who comes to Silverado and the mailwoman in my neighborhood. We shared some of our good memories in the letter and thanked them for the work they did.
Letter From the Group
I typed the letters and we decorated our signatures with colorful stamps. "Just like they used to do at the post office!" one reminded me as she stamped the sheet.
On December 23, Larry seemed very surprised when he pulled up to the curbside mailbox. He climbed out of his truck and waited patiently for our small group to wheel over and greet him with our goodies. He seemed genuinely surprised and touched by our gift. He even took time to chat about his 20+ years of delivery service. Then off he went.
My Own Mail Carrier
But the biggest treat for me was on Christmas Eve. It was pouring rain in Sugar Land. I wasn't sure how I could connect with my mail carrier since holidays make her delivery so much less predictable. But when I saw her truck turn the corner, I raced in my car and pulled up beside her. Dressed in a shiny, yellow rain slicker, "Minouz" was rushing towards the set of boxes. "Merry Christmas!" I called out over the rain and running motors. "I have a little something for you! The note will explain! Thanks for all you do!" I rushed to keep her from standing any longer in the rain.
Her grin was an incredible surprise...like a child on Christmas! She thanked me and we hollered "Merry Christmas!" to each other as I dove back in the car.
Later, Christmas Eve afternoon, I stopped back at my box to pick up the mail. There were two envelopes from Minouz in my box. One for my family and one for the Silverado Quilt Group. How did she find time? She acknowledged how the institution is changing, but that she was touched to know our reflection of the past helped us appreciate the present. I was stunned to realize that she had cared about what we did and had taken the time to thank us! And she had even stamped the envelopes before slipping them into my box!
What I Learned:
I often ponder the simpler times, but my Quilt Group friends encouraged me to do more than talk. By taking a step to encounter those folks who deliver our mail, we found out that even today, you can still have Norman Rockwell moments. Surprising Minouz in the rain and having Larry happily pose for a photo, will probably be my fondest memory of Christmas 2011. Simple as that.
Two Weeks Later
I am adding this photo, taken 2 weeks later...on a sunny day! Minouz was thrilled to hear how the Quilt Group responded to her letter. She showed me a photo of her family and she talked about her work. "I work 6 days a week, but love my job!" I think you can tell! We are friends now.
For 20+ years children have called it the Magic Quilt. They've danced and pretended all over these colorful squares. I've dragged it to schools, shelters and studios where children have climbed on top to hear Magic Quilt Stories and to act them out.