I realized how long it had been since I mailed a real letter when I discovered I had no idea what the price of a first class stamp is. I had stamps in the drawer, but there was no value, no amount printed on them. What a great deal for the postal service. Since I was clueless, I stuck two on, just to be safe. But I digress…
When my mother was 80 years old, we moved our family, including her, to a community 500 miles from the small town that had been her home for nearly 50 years. Settling into a senior apartment complex was difficult for her. And as it turned out, very isolating as well. Although the standard senior activities like puzzles spread out on the table in the rec room and a rather nice library in the lobby were available, she declined to participate. Her world began to shrink, and she went along with it in some ways. Her days were filled with Dr. Phil and The Price is Right. She even lost interest in a trip to the lobby to retrieve her mail each afternoon.
For many seniors, the delivery of the mail is a highlight of the day. If it happened even a few minutes late, the lobby was abuzz with those hanging out to celebrate it’s arrival. But Mom was not among them.
That is, until my mother-in-law, Virginia, began a letter writing campaign to my mom. Each and every week for the last four years of my mother’s life, my MIL faithfully sent her a note, a card, sometimes a lengthy letter. She occasionally included a newspaper clipping from the hometown paper of the community we had left, and in which she still lived. She picked those she thought my mom would enjoy, and they often included tidbits about people my mother knew. News about the new hospital wing, occasionally a birth announcement of a friend’s new grandbaby, the story of the new library the town was building.
And Virginia was clever – she varied the days of the week she mailed those notes so that it kept my mother trotting to the lobby daily to check her letter box. Those letters let my mom know she was missed, her friendship was appreciated, and that she had value.
I had always had a good relationship with my hubby’s mom. Genuine, warm, caring. We enjoyed spending time together. But I really developed a deep love and appreciation for her when she reached out to minister to my mom. The commitment to brighten my mother’s life brought joy to mine, as I could see how each letter lifted her spirits.
Who needs to know they are appreciated today? Who is feeling isolated and could use a note to remind them they are valued? Write ‘em a letter and observe this national week of remembrance. It only happens once a year. It might have an ‘overflow’ impact like my MILs love for my mother had on my relationship with her.
So celebrate – appreciate! And if you find out how much those stamps are worth, let me know, will you?