Every day brings a hill of mail to the Rondarosa. Sometimes I beg Tink not to get the mail because I know it will bring more work.
“Have you gotten the mail today?” he will ask.
Like a child pleading not to get a spanking, I’ll say, “No! Please don’t get it. Please. I’m caught up right now and if you bring in the mail, I’ll be right back where I started this morning: behind.”
But he can’t resist.
He’s like a child at Christmas when it comes to the mail. He loves to see what surprises it will bring. But, as I remind him, he’s not the one who answers the correspondence, sorts the catalogs, pays the bills, addresses a problem or chases an opportunity.
He has ruined more than a few good days by toting in an armload of mail that required me to stop what I was doing and deal with something. The other day he came into the kitchen, an armload of mail clutched to his chest. He dropped it on the kitchen table as it spread like fleas in the heat of summer. It’s often downright overwhelming.
I sighed heavily and began to sort. Junk. Catalogs. A real estate company that wants to buy a piece of property that we’ve never heard of. Bills. Checks. Small packages. It was pretty ordinary and mandatory. There, though, in the midst of my daily woes, was a glimmer of hope. It was a tiny envelope addressed by hand to “Tink and Ronda.”
“What’s that?” he asked. He never cares about the bills or other aggravations.
I shrugged and opened it. It was a child’s handwriting, penciled with sentences that climbed uphill and words that looked like they took intense concentration to write. I could quite easily picture the child who wrote it as he sat at a table too big for him and painstakingly drew out each letter.
It began, “Mr. Tink and Ms. Ronda.” It was a thank-you note from nine-year-old Grayson, who sometimes comes over to the Rondarosa to play. There’s lots of fun to be had on the Rondarosa (when you’re not dealing with the mail) with the water, horses, dogs, cats and all that. Grayson comes over ever so often and has himself a real good time.
Grayson is a typical all-boy kind of boy. He can outrun the tractor and when he goes flying in a scramble, he is all “skint” knees and bony elbows. He is mostly shy, preferring to hide behind his mama who will admonish him to speak up and with courtesy. He will lift his close-cropped brown-haired head, look up with enormous blue eyes and utter his words sweetly. But he always has that air of a rugged, tough-and-tumble kid, trying to be the Southern gentleman his mama expects.
But she is determined. She sets her jaw, eyes him sternly and says, “Yes, MA’AM.” He then repeats his “yes” followed by the obligatory “ma’am” of the South. I always laugh but I appreciate a mama like Grayson’s. Paula is determined that he will be well-mannered and grateful.
It was only a few lines but it was fulfilling. He ended it with, “Thanks again. Love, Grayson.”
On the other side of the card, his mama had written, “I hope you can read this. I want Grayson to learn to write a thank-you note.”
My heart melted. I love nothing more than a good thank you note — I write several a week myself — and especially one that comes from a child, complete with climbing lines and letters that are various shapes and sizes.
“This makes my day,” I said, handing the note to Tink.
“See? The mail isn’t all bad,” he replied brightly.
Sadly, the notes like Grayson’s are few and far between. If there were more like his note, I might actually look forward to the mail.
Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of several books, including “Mark My Words: A Memoir of Mama.” Sign up for her newsletter at www.rondarich.com. Her column appears Tuesdays and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.