People get late mail all the time. A World War II era letter just found its destination thanks to the postal wanderings of the Royal Mail, and a letter of condolence written to a UK family by Prime Minister Gordon Brown finally was delivered – four years late. My own college acceptance letter was lost in the mail in 1996, so I received my acceptance via telephone when the Macalester admissions counselor wondered why I hadn’t responded to the good news. Well, I was home nervously pacing and wondering why everyone else knew where they were headed for college, but not me! Flukes? Maybe. But after what happened this weekend, my empathy level has increased even more for people who get their correspondence years later than the senders intend. That’s because I just received a handwritten letter, dated December 2007, postmarked the same, and addressed to me without a street address, but in c/o Ashland, Wisconsin. The sender apparently did not know where I lived at the time.
Dec. 1, 2007
I hope this note gets to you. I had no idea of how to find you, and asked at the paper, and left a note there for you to contact me….
I’m sorry about your mother [Joyce] dying. I stopped a few times without finding her, and finally heard the sad news.
I don’t know what I was in her life, but to me she was a Joy, was a guide, was an inspiration, and a good nudge to do things. I’m glad to have walked a path with her, albeit short. If you should find the time, and find it in your heart, I’d sure like to hear how things were when she died. A telling of how the events were.
Thanks a bunch,
P.S. Claudia, Joy thought the world of you. Was very proud to know you, and more proud to be your mother, and loved you dearly.
The funny thing about the missing letter showing up at this particular time is that last week I told Andrew, my husband, that I’d like to have a chat with my mother about all the things that have happened in our lives since she passed away in June 2006. My mother and I would sit and talk it up for hours at a time about whatever topics floated through our minds. Fortunately we had one of these chats just a few days before she died, the memory of which I cherish.
Then the letter shows up yesterday evening via a hand-off from my brother-in-law who found the letter – unopened – somewhere, and who knows how it got where it was, and who knows how it showed up 20 miles away in Bayfield, which is where he and my sister live. Though my mother didn’t write the letter, for all it contains it could very well have been a dictation. Incidentally, it also turns out that shortly after the above letter writer sent the missing letter in 2007, I found my mother’s address book and wrote to him. Thankfully we are still in touch.