Drug testing

An Unexpected Letter

It was a couple of weeks after Christmas, and I was standing by my mailbox in the vestibule of the apartment building where I lived in Lexington, Kentucky, holding a letter I had just received. The handwriting was not familiar and neither was the return address, although it was postmarked Seattle, Washington, the same place where Hannah Paulson used to live.

Many years ago when I was a little girl growing up on our dairy farm in west central Wisconsin, the Paulsons had lived next door to us. The two farms were the only residences located on our mile-long stretch of isolated country road, and during the summer, I journeyed down the hill a couple of times a week to visit Hannah. With her hair arranged in waves swept back from her forehead and kindly blue eyes twinkling from behind wire-rimmed spectacles, she wore cotton shirtwaist dresses in the summer and a blue-and-white or pink-and-white checkered apron.

Going to see Hannah was the highlight of my summer vacations. There was just something about Mrs. Paulson that drew me to her like the bees that were drawn to the wild roses growing around her big, old-fashioned farmhouse. I never considered that it might be rather unusual for me to enjoy visiting our elderly neighbor, even though there were no other neighbors with children for me to play with, and no other children in my family (my brother is twenty-one years older than me and my sister is nineteen years older).

During the summer, Hannah and I would cut and arrange flowers because Mrs. Paulson loved to have flowers in her house. At other times I would find her working on a project, like cleaning out the old chicken coop, or painting the barn, or weeding her garden. No matter what Hannah was doing, she always let me "help."

On days when it was too hot to be outside, we sat in Mrs. Paulson's kitchen and ate homemade oatmeal cookies. Hannah would ask me about the books I was reading (I loved to read), and she would tell me about the books she had liked to read when she was a little girl.

Hannah and her husband, Bill, had lived in Seattle before they bought the farm next to ours. The farm had belonged to a relative of theirs, and they had wanted to live in the country again. At one time, they had owned a farm in South Dakota. Hannah had been a kindergarten teacher when they lived in Washington, although she was retired by the time they were our neighbors. As the Paulsons grew older and the farm became too much for them to take care of, they decided to move back to the west coast and settled in Oregon. And yet, as I contemplated the letter I had just received at my apartment in Lexington, I still couldn't figure out who would be writing to me from Seattle. Especially since I knew it wasn't Hannah.

I took the letter upstairs to the apartment to read it. I sat down at the kitchen table, and inside the envelope was a single sheet of note paper covered with elegant, spidery handwriting. I glanced at the name on the bottom but didn't recognize it, then I went back to the top and began to read -

"Thank you for all of your kind words to my sister, Hannah Paulson. I don't know who you are, but you must have had a special, wonderful relationship with her. Unfortunately, Hannah died the day before your letter arrived?"

I sat there for a few moments, stunned.

Hannah was dead? And she hadn't read my letter?

You see, for some inexplicable reason, a few weeks before Christmas I was overcome by the strongest feeling that I ought to write to our former neighbor and thank her for being so kind to me when I was a little girl. Although - the longer I considered the idea - the more ridiculous it seemed to write to someone I hadn't seen in about fifteen years just to say thank you for being nice to me when I was a kid. So, I kept telling myself I didn't have to do it right now - that I could always do it "tomorrow."

I knew my mother still occasionally exchanged letters with Hannah, and when I finally concluded the nagging feeling was not going to go away, I called my mother in Wisconsin, got Hannah's address, wrote a letter and sent it in a Christmas card. After I mailed the envelope, I felt a certain sense of satisfaction, as if I had finally paid off an old debt.

Except that now Hannah was dead. And she hadn't read my letter.

As soon as the shock wore off a little bit, I called my mother. And when I told her that Hannah had died, we both began to cry.

"All those years when I could have written, but I didn't," I said in a choked voice. "And now she'll never know-"

I heard Mom heave a deep sigh. "Oh, sweetheart, of course Hannah knew. Besides, she enjoyed your visits as much as you enjoyed going to see her."

Nothing my mother said made me feel any better. If only I had written a week earlier. Or even just a day?

Twenty years later, I still can't help wishing that Hannah had been able to read my letter. She was one of the best friends I've ever had, but I never told her what her kindness meant to a lonely little girl who had no one to play with.

Then again, maybe that was Hannah's greatest gift to me. Through my procrastination in writing one simple letter, I learned that I should never put off until tomorrow telling my dearest friends and loved ones how I feel about them. No one knows, after all, when there might not be any more tomorrows.

******************

About The Author

LeAnn R. Ralph is the author of the book: Christmas In Dairyland (True Stories From a Wisconsin Farm). Share the view from Rural Route 2 and celebrate Christmas during a simpler time. Click here to read sample chapters and other Rural Route 2 stories - http://ruralroute2.com

bigpines@ruralroute2.com

limousine chicago service
In The News:

Am I a Mother - Tips for Handling Mother?s Day After Miscarriage

Are you spending this Mother's Day wondering if you are,... Read More

GoodBye GrandMa

My dearest Grandma, I will never forget you & sorry... Read More

Graceful Grief: Angelic Help is on the Way!

I believe that major change and loss in our lives... Read More

The Twists and Turns of Life

When I was born in 1962 I thought life was... Read More

Are We All Losers? Understanding Grief

The well-known pioneer researcher Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross identified five states... Read More

The Grief And Belief Connection

"Grief is healing: To take away our grief is to... Read More

How To Write A Eulogy

Remembering someone special in a personal way can be healing... Read More

Adapting to the Loss of a Loved One: Three Tips on how to Cope

Have you ever sat down and played a piano where... Read More

Grief Support: The Dos

Helpers often ask questions such as: "What should I do?... Read More

The Truth About Emotional Intelligence

There is so much emphasis on emotional intelligence these days... Read More

Dealing With Tragedies (The 9/11 Tragedy)

September 11, 2001, marked yet another significant turning point in... Read More

Cultivate a Friendship with Death

Why We Fear Death"Men fear death as children fear to... Read More

Coping With A Funeral

When the death of a loved one occurs, regardless or... Read More

Silent Tears - from a Norwegian Hospital

Silent tears hit hospital-white sheets. The young Pakistani mother holds... Read More

How to Turn Grief into Joy

I was with my daddy when he died. Excuse me,... Read More

Tenderizing

Recently, the magazine I own and edit got a hate... Read More

Dying On the Inside: A Childs Grief

The impatient tooting of a car horn startled us into... Read More

When Change Comes (Dealing With Grief and Loss)

Needless to say, the time after loss is volatile and... Read More

Angelo Dies

Angelo C, was a good man that never did any... Read More

Suicide - An Eternal Pain

Suicide is the one form of death that has quite... Read More

Grief Support: The Don?ts

1) Don't try to make the grieving person feel better.... Read More

Do You Know Someone Whos Dying?

Too many people are dying alone?The dying are one of... Read More

You Have to Show Up: On Small Miracles (Okay, maybe not so small)

I hadn't intended to go to my cousin's funeral.That sounds... Read More

Pet Loss: Significant and Profound Loss or Much Ado about Nothing?

For those who have deeply loved and lost their animal... Read More

The Creative Side of Healing

One of the areas where I seem to be placing... Read More

led street lights cost best street lights Pete's produce ..