A letter, photo and lace

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by AUDREY CARLI

Two aged women and young therapist looking at picture

A small act of remembering can make a huge difference in the life of an aging friend, relative or parent. ©Adobe Stock

After a busy work day, I saw the birthday card that included my personal note to my Aunt Millie was still on my desk. It should have been mailed a week earlier, but a book on my desk had mistakenly been placed over the greeting card. If I hurried to the post office, the card and its contents could still reach her in time—or only a bit late. The gesture would still be a “visit” to let her know she was not forgotten. My family and I were among the few remaining relatives in my disabled aunt’s life, and I would feel so negligent if Aunt Millie did not receive my card and gift on time!

When I dropped the envelope in the post office slot, I had no idea how much that mailing would enhance my Aunt Millie’s life.

I drove to the post office with the card holding my letter and wallet-sized photo of my husband, four children and me. I had also enclosed a new lace-edged handkerchief in the large envelope.

When I dropped the envelope in the post office slot, I had no idea how much that mailing would enhance my Aunt Millie’s life.

Later, a cordial letter arrived from my lifelong friend, Charlene, who had visited Aunt Millie. “I learned that a nursing home assistant framed your family photo,” Charlene told me. “She placed it on the lace-edged handkerchief on your aunt’s bedside table. Your Aunt Millie beamed when she told me, ’See my family! I look at that picture every day. Even when no one visits, I can still look at them.’”

It was uplifting to know even if a traditional greeting card was not available, a photo and a few written words on plain paper have the ability to cheer up relatives and friends.

After I received Charlene’s letter, I sent greeting cards, snapshots of our family from long-saved albums, a heart-shaped pin for Aunt Millie’s robe lapel and an occasional chocolate candy bar. The nursing home dietician I phoned had okayed the treat in my gift packages.

When I thought about how much my Aunt Millie appreciated these things, a favorite verse by the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, came to mind: “Talk not of wasted affection; affection never was wasted.” (From the poem, “Evangeline”.)

AUDREY CARLI is a freelance writer from Michigan.

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