I received snail mail this week that filled me with delight. I love to get things in the mail. I am not talking about the countless Amazon boxes, but handwritten notes or cards. Joy mail makes my heart sing. The package was from Zatuilla. She is a friend I have made through the Pause Breathe Reflect community.
Hmm, I wonder how she got my address? I sure wish I had the address for everyone in that community. No, I am not a crazy stalker. Sometimes, I just want to send a hand-written note or card. It seems more personal than a text or email. That makes me old-fashioned and quite possibly a relic. I mean, I do write in cursive.
Anyway, I open up the package and I become giddy with joy and excitement. Before I even read the included postcard, I was tearing up. Happy, happy tears.
My son, who loves to bring me back to Earth, says, “Mom, it is just a dishtowel. Why are you so excited?”
“First, it is not JUST a dish towel. It is called a tea towel and it is from Australia.”
He looked at me perplexed. Shook his head, and retreated to his room (and my office). Yes, we have small house issues. Ever seen the AirBNB commercial about our houses becoming gyms, conference rooms, yoga studios, restaurants, and a host of other things. Well, it appears a world pandemic gifted our home with all these extra services, but the 1,000 square foot floor plan was not expanded to accommodate (nor was there an increase in staff). As I often do—I digress.
Zatuilla recently lost both of her parents. They died unexpectedly within a few days of each other. A beautiful testament to their love for one another and also a tremendous loss for Zatuilla. Losing a parent is difficult. I have lost my parents but there were 30 years between each loss. Time to process one loss before experiencing another. Zatuilla has seemed to process her loss with grace, grit, and tenacity.
As she was sorting through her parent’s belongings, she found an unused dish towel from Australia that someone must have given her parents. She thought I might like it. You see, a few months ago we had a PBR room where everyone changed their profile picture to a place they love or would like to go. I changed mine to the Sydney Opera House in Australia. I have always wanted to go to Australia since I was a teenager. I had a pen-pal in Australia and became obsessed with visiting there one day. I have planned the trip in my mind many times. I shared in the room that Todd and I have talked about visiting Australia—someday. Someday when we have more money. Someday when we raise kids and become empty nesters. The birth of our daughter, Emily, altered our plans for the future. Someday looks a little different than it did before she was born. Emily’s significant disabilities mean she will always depend on others for her care. Todd and I plan to care for Emily in our home as long as we able. We will never be empty nesters, and this dream may not ever happen.
The postcard and towel evoked joy. It is a gift to be seen and heard. Zatuilla heard me that day. She remembered my desire to visit Australia. Her gift filled me with gratitude. My son was not wrong in his observation. It is just a novelty towel that one may get at a souvenir shop or airport, but it is the thought behind the gift that means the world to me.
Her gift also brought up memories of a dear friend in high school. Every summer my friend traveled the world with his grandma on wonderful adventures. For many years, these adventures included Australia. He knew about my love and obsession with all things from Down Under. He would return with magazines, trinkets, postcards, and even Vegemite.
Amid the emotional task of going through her parent’s belongings, Zatuilla thought of me. A marvelous act of kindness magnified by the joy it rekindled in old memories that resurfaced. It reminded me of hearing a song that takes you back to a different place and time. The tea towel was a song.
Days like today remind me there is so much kindness and goodness all around us. The challenge each day is to recognize it. Acknowledge the gifts that come our way each day. The gift may come in a song we hear on the radio, a smile from a stranger, someone holding the door for you, and sometimes in a simple tea towel tucked away in a drawer.