November 26, 2004

Tales from the post office .01

Once up on a time an old lady lived by herself in a tidy little cottage, tugged away in a corner of Sydney suburbia. She lived alone after her husband died and her children moved away, spending her last days in solitude, as time ruthlessly chip away at her body, her mind, her memories.


Each day at 10 past 3, the postman would rumble by in his orange safety vest and AusPost issued bike laden with letters. Eagerly our lady (not old lady any more, for old is a such sad word) would wait for communicate from her bloodline, some tenuous link to her once glorious youthful past.


On a post card summer day (blue skies, white clouds, birds in the trees, the works), the postman arrived with clockwork precision at 10 past 3. He bent down from his seat and inserted a letter into post box no. 11 Evergreen Rd. If you were right above him, and the angle just so, I bet you would have seen in his helmet's reflection, our lady dismounting her front porch stairs with great vigour and marching towards that little imitation of a house mounted on a pole. Flashing a big grand-motherly smile at the postman, she bent forward in that stuttering manner that betrays her advancing arthritis and delicately extracts a small white envelope addressed to "My dearest Grand Mother". As the postman rode off to his next appointment our lady walked back to her cottage with her precious letter.


Once inside she placed it carefully on the drawing table and with hands shaking slightly picked up a rarely used letter opener. With precision that comes to all women through a life time of sewing and stitching, she neatly sliced the envelop open and its content came tumbling out. A printed letter with all the usual niceties, sentimental words (generated by a script somewhere on the net), and a not so subtle reminder - "My birthday next week, I am really looking forward to it." With joy in her heart, our lady packed her bag: wallet, jewellery, spare keys, and other stuff old ladies put in their bags (probably pepper spray too, in that day and age). After locking her door she sets off on a 40minute journey to the post office, her mind's eye saw a face vaguely remembered from obligatory family functions, made handsome and adorable by time's passage (with a disturbing resemblance to her dead husband when he was young).


A slightly fluttered and out of breath is how we found our lady when she arrived at the post office, cheeks flushed with a healthy glow, one outshone by the glow of her eyes. After waiting in line, she was finally served. A few short minutes later a carefully made money order was ready, a card selected with great consideration and finally a package of adoration and love was made and sent on its way across the land. Bursting with ecstasy of her accomplishment our lady starts her long trek home, every one she encountered a receiver of her smile.


The post office lady looked on with great sadness and helplessness at her departing back as it vanishes into the harsh glare of the afternoon sun. For the 4th time in 2 month, she helped our lady craft her packets of affection destined to the same grand child.