I’ve been meaning to tell you a sweet story for a while now.
After three months of being in the States, it was time for me to return home for a short break. After the 14-hour airport-plane-airport-plane trip, the best feeling in the world was the cab ride home and seeing the Pentland Hills in the distance. Once the driver pulled up by the roadside and I paid the fare, I trundled up my driveway with suitcase in tow.
I reached for my house keys, put a key in the lock and opened the communal front door. It looked like I wasn’t the only one who had been away for a while. On the ground there lay a pile of letters, flyers and business correspondence. I peeked behind the door. ‘So that was why!’ The mail basket was bursting at the gills, causing other mail to shower the ground.
I clumsily gathered together the correspondence in all its shapes and guises. As I tried to make them into an orderly pile to enable me to carry them upstairs, I saw a very small postcard and picked it up. The image on the front showed an elderly gentleman sitting in a wheelchair, with a young woman standing behind him holding the wheelchair steady. The man was wrapped in a winter coat and scarf, and a blanket lay on his legs. He was looking down at the canal near his feet. By the edge of the canal, one could see a group of ducks congregating around for their elevenses. From the scene on the postcard it was clear the elderly man had been feeding the ducks.
I wondered who the postcard was for and turned it over. There was an address on the right hand side but it was not for me. It was not for anyone in our building. The postie had delivered it to the wrong address. What also became clear was that this was no ordinary postcard. There were indeed the common markings: address on the right hand side on prepared horizontal lines, stamp top right, brief message on the left hand side and vertical line dividing the two parts. However, the dividing line was hand drawn with a ruler as were the lines for the address. This was a photograph.
What a wonderful idea and such a sweet thought. I curiously read the brief message. The elderly gentleman was saying hello to his daughter, talking about the ducks, how well he was despite the cold weather and hoped to see her soon. The date stamp was 3 March. Today’s date was 1 June. My heart jumped.
Before I returned to the States, I put the postcard into an envelope and wrote a letter explaining its reason for being in my possession. I finished by hoping her father was still well and that she would enjoy the postcard finally being in the hands of its rightful owner.
Weeks later and back into the US east coast rhythm, I returned home one evening, picked up the mail from my mailbox and went upstairs to my apartment. I opened the door, put on the kettle and started to sift through the mail. Amidst the correspondence was a plastic envelope from the Royal Mail Redirection service. I tore it open and found one solitary letter. The handwriting was unfamiliar to me. I picked up a knife and sliced open the envelope. As I reached inside, three 20 pence coins fell out. Intrigued, I read the letter.
Elaine was the daughter of the elderly gentlemen. She thanked me for mailing the postcard and wrote that her dad’s care worker had mentioned that they were sending on a postcard but it never arrived. And now she knew why!
I looked at the letter in my hand and stared at the three 20 pence pieces. At that moment I felt a spurt of joy: kind gestures make us feel so good and cost nothing.
More importantly, I do love happy endings!
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