This is the final installment of my series, Letters to Strangers Who Feel Like Family, but I continue to write notes of gratitude and comfort to those living alone without visitors and their tireless caregivers, along with other essential workers. These notes are not fancy. They are simple messages from my heart. Please contact me if you would like support in writing your own letters/notes.
You don’t know me, but you may have known my parents or my grandparents. I grew up in East Brady. It’s my hometown. The building in which you live holds a special place in my heart. It’s not simply a building. It’s your home, your community, your family. It was my community, too, because it provided a warm home for my grandparents.
I spent so much time with Grandma at her apartment, especially on Sundays. Our family tradition was to gather around in her living room on Sunday evenings. I often took my homework with me to spread out on her table. Saying goodnight to Grandma at the end of our Sunday evening visits gave me an extra pang of sadness because it meant the weekend was officially over.
Grandma and I spent many Sunday mornings together, too. Sometimes my whole family took Grandma to church out at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ. Other times I drove her, just the two of us. I’d call her right before I left my house so she wouldn’t have to wait outside by herself in the cold. The timing was perfect. She would take the elevator down to the back entrance. She’d walk out the back door exactly when I arrived to pick her up. Our conversations took many turns as I drove through the twisty-turn-y back roads. The most delicious Sundays were when Frogtown Fire Hall held their pancake breakfasts. I can still smell the sausages and bacon.
Smells always spark memories for me. The smell of popcorn popping always brings back vivid memories of spending time volunteering in the activities hall of your building. Our local Girl Scout troop threw holiday parties, ice cream socials, and bingo nights there. We air-popped fresh popcorn for almost every event. Wonderful memories were made in the big kitchen downstairs when Grandma helped us Girl Scouts straighten up and put everything away at the end of the evening. I liked to ride up in the elevator to walk her back to her apartment. Boy, smells really do bring back those memories. There’s something about the smell of the elevator at my tax accountant’s building that takes me right back to those days I spent with Grandma.
Soon, when the virus has passed, your building will become the social hub it’s meant to be again. Try to remember the good times, the happy memories. I hope my writing to you has sparked some of your own happy memories. Remember the love of your town, your community, and your family to ease the pain under these difficult circumstances.