The day I started attending the Methodist Church in town, I sat down in a next-to-the-back pew directly inside the door. I don't get around much these days, but there are people in the small group of Methodists that I sort of know, so I didn't feel too much like a stranger. In the pew directly behind me, an elderly lady sat, alone. I'm not great at introducing myself to strangers, but it felt awkward sitting there with that same little lady behind me, not saying anything beyond "hello". So on my third Sunday, I turned and said to her, "Since we're going to be sitting this close every Sunday, we may as well get acquainted: I'm Donna. What's your name?
Her name, she said, was Pat, or Patty. From then on, in the five minutes before services began, we got to know one another a little. She is a widow in her 90's, never had children, and used to be a school teacher. She remembers when there were three grocery stores in our little town and every church building was full on Sundays. Her father built some of the houses in Wellington. Patty has a dog... or maybe she doesn't now, because the dog was very old, blind, and deaf. One time she mentioned to me that most of her friends have died. She still drives around town, but very slowly. One Sunday there was light rain falling and she offered to take me to the Baptist church so I wouldn't have to walk in the rain. I took her up on it, even though I had an umbrella with me. I sensed she wanted to give me a ride.
During the first Covid lock-down, I sent her my book of poems, which she enjoyed very much. But lately, in this self-inflicted lockdown I've been on since before Thanksgiving, I have hardly given her a thought until yesterday, when it occurred to me that she would be a perfect person to write a letter to.
Why not just call her on the phone, you ask? Because I hate talking on the phone. I'm not good at small talk, or trying to keep a conversation going. Besides, there's something about a letter, something tangible. You can pick it up and read it again, or put it in your keepsakes and dig it out fifty years later, as my mother did. You can't do that with a phone call. I explained to Patty that I'm learning to write with my left hand and need practice every day if I'm going to get better at it. I asked her about her dog and mentioned Gabe. And I told her I hoped to be back at church Sunday.
It's a start. I'm going to ask a few people around here for suggestions of people to write letters to. I will continue to write to my sister, who has been shut in since the pandemic first reached the midwest. She started doing her own grocery shopping at some point, but is still not going to church because nobody there is social distancing or wearing a mask. She does see her son, grandsons, and their families occasionally, I believe, but they take precautions. My sister is one person I do talk to on the phone occasionally, but I can still write her a letter sometimes, maybe even weekly.
Meanwhile, I await the day when the village idiot who is president exits the office and lets a regular, old-fashioned, crooked politician have the job. I can at least hope he won't embarrass us as a country, unless he's caught sleeping through some important meeting; he looks pretty drowsy sometimes. But hey, President Reagan took naps in public every once in awhile.
Meanwhile, I drift farther away from my Republican roots; I've said it many times: The Republican party left me behind. I sometimes pray that somebody younger and more capable, from either party, will be nominated next time. I am so very tired of having to vote for the lesser of two evils.
At my age, though, I won't be worrying about it long. Beam me up, Scotty!