Dillon loves to check the mail. In the old house, the mailbox hung outside our front door. Determined to complete the task, he'd order me to stay inside as he balanced on a rocking chair or dragged a bar stool out of the kitchen to retrieve the stash. I held my breath and decided his determination surpassed the slim chance he might fall and crack his head open. "It's just junk," he'd often say, as he handed over the crumbled collection of fliers and credit card offers. Where on earth did he hear that? I wonder.
In the new house, our mailbox is attached to a post near the street. And still, he insists on standing on tip toes as he digs around. For weeks, I found stray envelopes in the back of the box and scattered across the lawn. My patience paid off, and today, he gets every piece safely inside.
His persistence paid off, too. "Mommy! There's something for me!" he exclaimed one day, waving a postcard from my friend, Andra Watkins. Andra sent the boys a few postcards from her travels this summer, and to Dillon, these notes are definitely not junk. They're like gold, hanging proudly on our refrigerator. Sometimes, the postcards disappear, and I find them in the back of a Tonka trunk. The treasures have become imaginary playmates.
Recently, Andra wrote about why she does this. When she was about Dillon's age, her next door neighbor sent her a post card from Niagara Falls. "I still have it," she writes. "Both the American and Canadian falls strutted there, finally giving me an idea of what in the world a waterfall was." She goes on to explain,
Whenever someone sent me a postcard, I salivated over it like it came from outer space...
And now, a few decades later, my children are reaping the benefits of a next door neighbor who traveled to Niagara Falls. Andra concludes her story by saying,
Whenever I go somewhere, I send postcards to all the children in my life. They’re paper seeds with pictures, enticements to be inquisitive, to dream about people who are different, to embrace the joy that can come from getting lost in a foreign place. I hope a few of them bear the fruit of finding me shuffling to my mailbox someday and pulling out an old timey postcard from a place I inspired. Live life, little ones.
Thank you, Andra. A gift to my children is a gift to me.
Do you remember when you first discovered how big the world must be, and it filled you with a sense of wonder and possibility?
Please support Andra Watkins as she travels her own uncharted road -- working to fulfill her dream of becoming a published novelist. Click here to like her author page. You'll thank me later when you're standing in line to get your autograph copy.