Wednesday, January 2, 2013

You have MAIL!

I received two greeting cards in the mail today. There is nothing quite like going to your mailbox and finding cards, not bills. It is an instant smile maker. It lifts ones spirits immeasurably. And it makes the receiver think of the sender with kind thoughts.

I am a HUGE fan of the written letter. A card signed with a personal note. Thought put into the perfect words to let someone know you are thinking about them. There's  nothing that compares to that. A phone call is nice and easy. A text, way too easily misunderstood. But putting pen to paper, expressing one's thoughts and feelings, that takes time and effort. It has become a lost art.

One of the best memories of my mom will be the cards she sent to me while we were a few cities or a thousand miles apart. As the disease is progressing she's lost her ability to put pen to paper in the form of a letter. Don't get me wrong, she can still write and does. But it's on post-it notes all over with random thoughts that only make sense to her when she writes them. Yesterday I found two that she had made grocery lists on. I have no idea how old they are because the things on them are things she asks for every day.

I used to get a card for my birthday, holidays- big or small, or just because. Those were my favorites; the ones that she slipped a $20 in so I could get myself the new book I wanted. Or get my nails done. Or whatever I had told her I was short on funds to do or get. Every card was always signed "Love you Gert, Mom". (She's called me Gert or Gertie since I was young. I don't know where it came from, but it stuck.)

I picked up her love of greeting cards. I enjoy browsing the card aisle looking for the perfect one. I send thank you cards, sympathy cards, birthday cards, thinking of you cards, smart ass cards, get well cards. Well, I used to. I've resolved this year I'm getting back in to the habit. I have a great stock pile of cards thanks to mom. Her shoebox of cards is now mine. I am happy to put them to good use.

I may never get a spontaneous card from mom again. But she will from me. When she gets mail, it's like Christmas for her. I will slip one in the mail for her every once in awhile. I want to make her smile.

I wish her friends would send them more often. But as is par for the course with dementia patients, her friends don't reach out to her anymore. They send me the card to show their support instead. I do appreciate it don't get me wrong. What I don't enjoy is having to hide my mail from her, because if by chance she notices who the card is from it hurts her that the card or note isn't for her. 

It's sad how as her memory is disappearing so are some of the connections she relied on. Now she looks to me to fill the void. So I read her my cards when I can. I mailed out a lot of Christmas cards in the hopes we'd get a lot in return. We got 1/3. Not bad really, but I wish it had been more. Again, it's a lost art.

I'm blessed with great friends and family who understand phone calls and texts can be hard for me to do right now. Instead they're sending me cards with personal notes. And I'm loving it. I'm vowing to make those personal connections with those I love, they deserve my time and effort. It takes no more time than watching a sitcom on TV. Plus it's much more engaging for the brain. I'm doing my part to revive a lost art. For the price of a stamp you can too!

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