Every now and then the most baffling thing arrives in the mail at the Citizen offices.
We get letters all the time about any number of subjects from all types of people; handwritten and mailed, hand-delivered, by email, you name it. The letters come from young people and not so young people but the common thread is they’re all from readers generally engaged and who care about the community regardless of their differing opinions.
My favourite letters to get, however, are from the elderly. You know those people have lived through it. They have seen the world. They know stuff. Plus, they often have beautiful cursive handwriting, even if at times we do have a hard time deciphering it. One thing remains consistent, though, when we get letters from the elderly and this is what baffles me, but what I also find so endearing…We get computer printouts of letters in the snail mail. Curious right? Think about it? Why didn’t they just email it? Clearly they had a computer.
But hey, who am I to question someone who has lived on this earth more than twice as long as me? And besides I like getting old school mail. For some reason I find it exciting.
One afternoon not too long ago I was at work while the children were tearing up my house. If it was socially acceptable my husband would have locked himself in our bedroom and hidden behind our bed with a beer or three until either they calmed down or until I got home from work. Don’t judge him. We’ve all be there. Children are monsters. Especially around Halloween.
It was a Friday, I was itching to get out the door and home to my family and I didn’t have any pressing work to do and my time would be more appreciated battling the minions at home rather than scrolling for leads at my desk.
I was almost ready to pack it in for the day a little early when my editor asked me to, on my way home, pick up a letter written by an older gentleman. She wasn’t sure why he couldn’t get it to the office himself but she could tell by his voice on the phone the writer was a senior and so she offered to pick it up. Well, she offered for me to pick it up.
I left the office early and drove across town to pick up the letter on my way to my family. Sounded easy enough.
I got to the gentleman’s house and knocked on the door. A diminutive man, not much larger than me appeared and I introduced myself. He smiled and thanked me for coming and handed me a printout of a letter he typed on the computer. Then he did the one thing I didn’t want to happen. He invited me in. Nooooo! I thought to myself. I want to get home! But hey, what’s a few minutes right?
Jack Bridges is coming up on 97 years old. He welcomed me into his home and told me all about his time in the 4th Canadian armoured division. He told me about memorizing the eye exam so that he’d be allowed to enlist and about not telling his dad when he went overseas lest he worry the old man.
Mr. Bridges also showed me to his computer where he pulled up an old news story he’d saved in his email about his time in the war where he said he spent 95 per cent of his money while in the army on wine, women and song and wasted the other five per cent. He also told me not to worry, his lady chasing days were over.
It was a lovely way to end my day and, for a while there, I forgot all about the havoc that was no doubt being caused at my own home.
It didn’t bother me that I was going to have to re-type the type-written letter I knew Mr. Bridges could have sent by email. I think for both of us that it wasn’t just me picking up his letter, it was also a lovely conversation and time well spent.
See page 8 for Jack Bridges’s letter, and a photo of him then and now.