I found the lists after he died and wished I’d been more attentive to and thankful for who my father was. He’d put check marks beside the names and addresses on the list. They signified thank you notes he’d sent to each of the people who’d given him a gift.
My father was a mail carrier, or postman, and each Christmas Eve he arrived home with a bin of goodies plucked from mailboxes. It’s my understanding that mail carriers aren’t supposed to accept gifts, but apparently his office was lenient because everyone accepted the treats.
Dad shared. I tasted shortbread cookies in round tins, homemade fudge wrapped in cellophane and candies in rectangular boxes. But I didn’t grow up enjoying these Christmas treats.
Delivering the mail was Dad’s second career. As an insurance agent, he hadn’t been very successful, but he loved his job with the U.S. Postal Service. He loved conversing with the people on his route and giving them excellent service. He hated to leave, but was forced to retire early due to the effects of Parkinson’s disease. He died three to four years later at the age of 67.
I found the lists of names and addresses after he died. I looked down at them, my heart swelling with love – and grief. Things aren’t just necessarily things. Things tell stories. They evoke memories of personality traits and events. My daddy was a good man. He was a thoughtful man. A hard worker. A loving person. He treasured each relationship on that list.
I miss my daddy. As much as we wish to say “I love you” again and recognize loved ones for their thoughtful deeds to us or others, we cannot go back. Truth is, no matter how many times we say these things, it isn’t enough for us after the veil of death separates us from our loved ones.
But we can take the reminder that life is short and thank our beloveds today. And not just our loved ones, but those who cross our paths. Today (Jan. 4th) is #ThankAMailCarrierDay. Interestingly, it doesn’t fall on a day our mail carriers work, but tomorrow or next week, put a note for your postal worker in the mail box, or stop and chat with them.
Among them you may find a man or woman with a big heart that treasures your smile and your company. They might not keep a literal list of the people who are good to them, but you better believe they are grateful for each “thank you” offered. I know my dad was.
What did you find in your loved one’s belongings that reminded you of a certain personality trait? Do you see that trait in yourself?
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