We live in a community with a central mail room that serves all the residents of the community. There are no mailboxes on the street or at homes. Tonight, I realized the mail room is life. It reveals humanity.
The centrally placed building is a gathering area, of sorts. While retrieving mail, one might run into a friend or meet a neighbor. You can also see the fullness of life, providing a view that provides a great perspective on how we’re all in this together.
This is the second time I have lived in the community. A quarter century ago, the area proved to be a great place to raise kids. My three sons enjoyed the small-town feel, fishing on three lakes and the overall environment. The gap between leaving here as a father to teens and returning as one of the senior set is 20 years. My perspectives now are richer, and, hopefully, wiser.
It’s a close-knit community; there are a lot of us seniors in it. It is not unusual to find notices on the door about a resident who has passed away. The bulletin board inside the building reveals all of life leading to its conclusion.
Notices abound, tacked to the cardboard. You can find used sets of golf clubs for sale; some are sold because the seller is improving their game, or aging out of it. Some are offered through estate sales. There are offers for tutoring assistance in classes ranging from middle school math to college physics (we live in a “college town”). Invitations to fund-raising events for local charities can almost always be found on the board; there are always people in need and people who want to help. There are also invitations to join bridge clubs or pickleball groups, as well as many other activities that young people or retirees like to participate in. The pinned papers reveal people’s desire to socialize, engage and support. Yesterday, I noticed a message that bundled all the aspects of humanity; a resident who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2015 was looking for others to join in the creation of a support group. I paused to absorb the wording and left with a profound sense of mortality, along with an affirmation that the way to make it through life and its challenges is with other people. The entire board reflects the same wisdom, each sheet of paper in its own way. Amidst the “for sale” sheets and event notices stood a card of gratitude from one of the women who works behind the counter of the mail room. It has been there since the Christmas holidays, expressing her thanks for the gifts and well wishes. It stood out for its look and message; gratitude has a way of doing that.
My truck was the only vehicle in the parking lot as I headed out the door. A car pulled next to mine as I made my way through the lot. The driver seemed to be in no hurry to get out of his car. He was moving slowly when I called out, “How are doing this evening, sir?” He rose slowly, his pace clearly age induced. “Getting older,” he replied with a smile. “God willing, we get to do that every day,” I said. He nodded. “It’s the end of that that I’m worried about,” he said, his smile giving way to a look of resignation.
My trip to the mail room was a lesson on humanity and the human condition.