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THE WAIT FOR THE MAIL
10 October 2013
Mail delivery has been a Very. Big. Deal. for me all of my life. Probably started when I started having pen pals, and started a correspondence with Peach, which has lasted on-again, off-again for the better part of my life (now, of course, e-mail).
I got spoiled in my early years because we had such fantastic mail delivery.
The mail came into San Francisco and was sorted at the main post office down near the waterfront, the same place my father went to work when they took mail delivery by train off and started sending it by buses. That main post office caused my father to have a nervous breakdown, ultimately.
Anyway, local mail carriers would pick up their sorted mail to start their routes and then travel by public transportation to where they began their day (trucks would then take the rest of the mail and deposit it in street mail boxes around the city where the mailmen would pick it up after finishing the first batch).
Our mailman took the 41 Union Street bus and got off at Leavenworth and Union, which was the intersection closest to our house. We were the third stop on his route. First he delivered to my aunt Jean (and later my boyfriend's aunt Leah), then to our landlords, and then to us. We almost always had our mail by 9:30 in the morning and I would sit on the window seat in the living room on mornings when I was home and watch for the bus, so I could see him arrive.
It was great for someone who waited impatiently for their daily mail delivery!
Christmas time was best of all. Everybody sent Christmas cards in those days, of course, and there was so much mail to deliver in December that we would often have two and sometimes three mail deliveries a day. My father hated Christmas because his work load on the train would triple. He was angry from the middle of December to New Years day, which always made for pleasant holiday activities.
I don't know if I actually got that much mail when I was a kid, but I sure clung to the mail delivery times.
When we were hosting foreign students here in Davis, and they would return to their home countries, I would get lots of mail, regular mail from the kids who stayed with us and who wanted to stay in touch, and thank you letters from the members of the groups I coordinated and whom I got to know so well.
We knew our mailman in those days and he once told me I received more international mail than anybody in Davis (Davis was smaller then!). Getting international mail was such a common thing for me that when someone in Brasil wrote to me and addressed it to "Mrs. Beverly, Davis, CA," our mailman delivered it to me!
Our regular mailman eventually was transferred to the main post office and I've never really "known" our mailman since then; just about the time we get to know somebody, he or she is replaced by a new carrier. But I remember going to the main post office once to pick up vacation mail and when the clerk asked me my address, the guy sitting next to him (who happened to be our old mailman), told him my name and my address. I loved that.
For a long time now we have been getting our mail regularly between 12:30 and 1:30. When it gets to be 1:45, I start getting antsy.
But within the past month, our mail has started arriving very late. Sometimes as late as 5 p.m. I hate it when they toy with my mail addict sensitivities like that. These days I get a lot of mail again, what with the swaps that I participate in on Swap Bot and mail from the Compassion kids, but the worst mail days are when I wait all. day. for the mail carrier to arrive and then, like today, he delivers two newsletters for Walt and the daily pack of junk mail. Nothing for me. It's like wasting most of the day!
* * *
I made a short trip to Atria today. My mother had asked me to buy bread and milk for her (I know that a week from now I will probably throw both out) and I had noticed she was out of ice cream, so I bought her some ice cream too.
We sat down to visit and within 15 minutes I had reassured her at least 10 times that Ed would be by to visit her tomorrow and would bring checks for her. She would then turn around and say "that's good because I need to go to the bank and get checks."
When there was a gap in the conversation and she asked "How much longer do you think I'm going to live? I'm old, Bev. I'm 94. All my family left me behind." I had to get out of there. I just wasn't up for the "I'm old--when will I die?" conversation today. It's the conversation we have at least three times every time I visit her. It's a terrible thing to say, but on one level, I am almost wishing for her death. I don't want to lose her, but she wants to go so badly. I remember when she went through this with her mother-in-law and had exactly the same conversations with her. Catherine lived to be ~102 and spent a good five or six years refusing to become involved in anything at the very expensive facility where she lived. My mother was so frustrated with her and I wish she could understand (she can't) that she is doing exacty the same thing.
Peg told me today about a woman who lives at Atria who is 102 and who makes clothes for babies of low income mothers and homeless people and who volunteers in several other activities in Atria. I mentioned that to my mother and she just said she was too old to get involved in anything.
I came home and read another book on dementia. If there is
anything comforting in these books it is realizing that as dementia patients go, my mother
is high functioning. And that, believe it or not, is comforting.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
This is Mirzaim, a 62 year old widow from from Kyrgyzstan.
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