A Neighbor Named Alice

By Doreen Mary Frick | February 8th, 2023

The small but important things that keep her smiling

elderly woman at mailbox, by Bonita Cheshier. Boomer reader Doreen Mary Frick shares a snapshot of her elderly neighbor Alice, and the connections that add meaning to her days.

Boomer reader Doreen Mary Frick shares a snapshot of her elderly neighbor Alice, and the connections that add meaning to her days.

Alice walks to the mailbox to send birthday cards: one for the son who moved to Arizona, one for the daughter who lives in Oregon. Alice is wearing the practical sneakers her oldest daughter bought, the one she lives next door to now. Alice is sure she can manage to walk down to the mailbox and hopes she can avoid the puddles so the white canvas doesn’t get muddy. Winter was harsh this year, and Alice is listening for signs of spring.

The cards she’s sending are all homemade. She cut the hearts and glued the sequins, attached the bric-a-brac and used her best stamping pad for the sentiment inside.

You are loved!!

It all looked so neat and professional, the lacy heart, the glittery glue, the pink and white background for her faraway daughter who loves pink, that in a way, she almost hated to sign it.

Her handwriting these days was a bit weak and shaky and awfully hard to read, why couldn’t she find a rubber stamp with her name so she didn’t have to struggle? Even addressing the envelopes made her nervous, she had to check and re-check for accuracy. Her last card came back for lack of a proper zip code.

Standing at the mailbox she looked over the envelopes one last time. Something was missing on one, How could she have forgotten to put a stamp on her sons card?

Oh her brain was jumbled since the stroke, but still she gets frustrated with herself because she was once a secretary with many multi-tasks and phone lines and responsibilities and now she needed someone to help her with the simplest of things.

But then Alice smiled. Somewhere a robin was chirping. And somewhere there would be a nest on one of those tall evergreens she lived under, and soon there would be nestlings feeding on worms that came out in the rain and got gobbled up by caring mother birds providing for their young.

Maybe her brain was disorganized, but her heart and soul were fully intact. And back up the driveway she trudged, avoiding the puddles and rivulets of melting snow to find a pretty stamp in her desk to place on the letter to send to her son in the sunny state of Arizona. She would plant a kiss on the envelope and walk it back down the mailbox and her heart would fairly sing knowing that even if all she had was a single stamp and a single envelope and a single heart-felt card, it would be enough.

The melancholy that once chased her in the hospital was broken by the son who had come up from Arizona to help his older sister nurse their mother back to returned speech and a smile that would light up his way back to Arizona.

But before he would leave he would make her a promise to come back in the summer and they would go fishing together and he would dig up the worms in her garden and use them for bait.

And Alice put her mind to finding a sticker for his next letter that had a fish on it, to remind him of his promise because this stroke would not define her, and soon she would check her mailbox for his card in return wishing her a happy birthday, and a few extra stamps to keep his mom writing….


Art therapy for seniors

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