I’m a homebody. I’m in the house a lot. When I get twitchy, those feelings are released when I head to Meijer or the mall for an hour. I don’t have to ‘go anywhere with someone’ but it does me good to walk around other humans for a bit. Since everyone’s face is covered up, smiling is not mandatory. I miss that. The smiles and greetings to one another, often strangers.
But the pandemic’s ‘keep your butt at home’ felt different in 2020. Guess the old adage, you don’t miss something until it’s gone rings true. Once I was ordered not to go out, I missed the freedom of doing what I felt like doing-whenever-even though it wasn’t much different than my schedule since the fall of 2018. Still it goes against the grain of most of us being ordered to do or not do something.
I was looking for ways to fill the long hours of the day. Something with purpose. I’m not a good person without purpose. Last time I had real purpose it involved doing for others. I miss taking care of the babies. I miss visiting the elderly. I don’t like aimlessness. I’m heading up the creek in my own little boat but forgot the oars on the shore.
It wasn’t too many years ago when I got an enormous sense of satisfaction writing cards and letters to friends and acquaintances. Blogging satisfies this somewhat but I used to zip off a couple dozen cards and notes every month. Something I stopped doing after I retired as Parish Visitor. I thought it might do me some good and perhaps add a smile to someone’s face once in a while.
A couple of my classmates are facing serious health issues. While I can add them to my prayer list, I live a great distance away. It’s not like I can drop off a chicken pot pie, some Special K bars and visit them once a month. One dear friend lives close to me but has been quite ill. The other 2 gals-a bit older than me live within a couple hours, but visiting was not something I could do every 2-3 weeks. Besides the state was in lockdown.
Thought I should start a card ministry. Not a big thing, just make a point to write and mail cards to a few folks twice a month. Choosing what to write on an all occasion card to let them know I’m thinking of them wasn’t always easy. I’m trying to brighten their day, not morosely fill them with my mundane life. However, I was stuck at home most of the time, not going to sporting events, eating out or concerts. They would have to accept ‘a day in the life of Neese.’ It’s all I got. Luckily some of those days included Jovi, our great granddaughter. I could write a page about her any day of the week.
When I run errands lately I stop in the greeting card section. (Have you priced cards lately? Yikes, they’ve gotten expensive). Usually though, there’s a small section with value priced cards. Sure, not as nice card stock/linen feel or as clever rhyming ditties, but my days of buying high priced cards are over. The lucky recipient’s would have to suffice with my clever quips instead. Haha.
When a week has passed and I’ve not written my batch of cards, it’s time to set down at the table and write a few. I usually complete them in one sitting but if I’m feeling real chatty, I gotta stand up and take a break. My left leg does not tolerate being bent very long and often threatens not to support that whole half of my body upon rising to full extension, no matter how much teasing, cajoling, encouraging, begging, compromising I do in my head.
So I brought along a stash of cards/stamps in a ziplock bag while we were snowbirding in Alabama for 2 months because I didn’t want to shirk my commitment to my fledgling card ministry. I might have stretched the length of time in between cards over the duration, but still I wrote my small gang of 5 friends. It was easier to find subjects to share because there was no snow, ice and freezing temps. Instead I was watching the Gulf of Mexico as I wrote. I mailed some a few days before we hiked back north 1,000 miles (not literally, no big hikers here) so I would have a few days to get the house back in running order.
But the day we got back home, Diane, one of my five favorites passed away. While it wasn’t a complete shock (her daughter Tracy texted her mom was going under Hospice Care several days before) it packed a wallop. A sucker punch which I’ve not recovered from just yet. For days I went over the years of our friendship. Eating out, picking fresh Michigan fruit, canning together, painting t-shirts, long phone conversations. Perusing the gifts she gave me over the years.
Over a week at home passed and everyday I’d think, I’m gonna sit down and write cards today. (It’s not a chore, I usually look forward to it) But I avoided getting the ziplock bag of cards or even looking at the kitchen table. The biggest reason was a small note that was stuck in the bag. Ripped off a yellow lined tablet, in my half printed, half cursive scrawl were listed my 5 friends names and addresses. Now all these gals addresses are in my contacts on my phone and iPad but I don’t always have my phone with me at the table (and I’m too lazy to get up-which would probably do my left leg a lot of good, right)?
The repetition of choosing appropriate cards (or inappropriate one sometimes, sorry ladies) for the gal who’s receiving it, thinking about something during the last week of my life that was exciting enough to write about and addressing the envelopes would land another gut punch. Skipping Diane’s card. I wasn’t ready to eliminate her from my list. She was hard enough to put ON the list in the first place. Not really fair for the rest of my friends either though. I don’t know if they look forward to another chintzy card with a couple of short written paragraphs of misspelled words and crossed out mistakes, but I’m committed.
So this week I did something really hard. I wrote four notes on 4 cards and covered up my yellow (cheat sheet) note and used my phone contact list to address the envelopes. (You know, even 10 years ago these 5 simple addresses would be committed to my memory bank forever, along with the phone numbers, and not just these gals, but a hundred friends and family. Constantly depending on my iPhone for such things, (and aging another decade) I’ve lost that amazing memorizing ability I’ve had all my life).
As I was walking out the door, I scooped up my smaller bundle of assorted sized envelopes in hopes they continue to brighten someone’s day. It did my heart good getting back into my card writing groove again. It also made me ache not to include a card written to Diane. No part of me was ready to accept it was time to exclude her. It feels like I’m letting her down. Or letting me down. But hopefully, next time I write cards it may be just a bit easier…