Friday, December 21, 2012

Tell Me a Story


Englee (but throw a few extra syllables at it) where Myrtle lived all her life


I'll write it down before it leaves me, and you can read it too. So my thoughts are a little richer tonight. And maybe yours might be.

I was companion to an elder today. A woman whose body is falling apart, her legs at odd angles to each other, her elbows support her along the walls. You'd be right nervous looking at her negotiate down the hall and she'd shrug you off with a shoulder if you came near enough to help.

She tells me she didn't bring her walker with her as she lives in Labrador and had to fly down and the walker "got on her nerves". She is staying with her daughter in my village over the holidays.

She has early onset Alzheimer's. I shifted and played with my words so we could engage in a meaningful conversation. It took a while as she had a massive resentment that her daughter "had the sauce" to engage me for the day while she, the daughter, "off and gallivanted in that annoying way she has." I got her back into her life, age 19.

Here in her words:

I was post mistress at Englee, ran the whole post office all by myself. Daddy was good with the numbers, he was quartermaster in the First World War so he taught me numbers and he built me all those shelves for the sorting. Oh my, there was so much mail! I had to sort them out for the boats in the summer and put them in big canvas bags with cardboard labels. They would take them away, up and down the coast to all the little outports, there was a bag for each one. And they's pick up the outgoing mail and drop it off at my post office for me to sort and send off to the city. I'd write letters too, there's some that never learned. I never would charge for that though I heard some did. Now that was the summers.

The winter was another story. There were all these dog sleds in the winter when it was too rough for the boats. Coming in from everywhere and I'd load up the sleds with the bags. Mail was the only communication then, there was no phone or electricity so it was so important I kept on top of it all. It's how I met my husband and he just back from the Second World War. He was a post office inspector! Imagine that!

And here she laughs and laughs, punching me in the arm, to make sure I got the joke.

And I did.

13 comments:

  1. What a wonderful glimpse into the past! Wouldn't it be great if you could "download" all the fantastic memories and experiences from old peoples' brains before they die and take them away with them? Well, I guess that's what you just did! I bet you both enjoyed the day ---she in spite of herself....

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  2. Absolutely beautiful. Are you looking forward to your next visit?

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  3. Imagine that indeed. The further we get from days gone by, the more we rely on good storytelling to help us understand them.

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  4. Wonderful! Newfoundland's version of The Pony Express!
    I'm so pleased, but not surprised, you were able to gain the lady's trust. I hope we'll hear more of her stories soon. :-)

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  5. I love these old stories. Patience and time, are the keys to open the treasure chest of memories.

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  6. WWW, You are a remarkable person. This story has "touched" me, if you know what I mean. The old lady's story takes me back to my early days as a traveling salesman when we so depended on the post offices for communications as well as to receive money to keep us going. Even for non business purposes, we wrote letters and were eager to receive letters C/O Post Master in many post offices. I have written my share of love letters and received them too and somehow the romance of that era seems far more interesting than the modern instant messaging ways.

    I salute you dear friend.

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  7. Thanks for your comments, my friends. My second visit proved to be a disappointment indeed as she was just about overflowing with resentments which encompassed her family, her geography, her age, her eyes, her greatgrandchildren (too loud).
    She is my teacher.
    XO
    WWW

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  8. I bet you'll meet a different person each time, all the puzzle parts that make her who she was and is.

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  9. So are daughters not entitled to go off and gallivant occasionally? If there was no gallivanting, she wouldn't have had the chance to tell you the story of her life....

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  10. SAW:

    Absolutely, less. She has returned to Labrador now.

    XO
    WWW

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  11. Nick:
    Her daughter has MS which makes her accusations all the more untrue. She had medical stuff to attend to and picking up her daughter at the airport.
    And telling me her story didn't enhance her life one bit. As she was quick to point out. It made her sad after she laughed.
    XO
    WWW

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