Friday, August 14, 2009

Return to sender.

I received a phone call from a stranger yesterday afternoon. The call was about a letter addressed to me that was dropped in her mailbox "by accident." She said that she could have thrown it away, but that that was not the right thing to do. So she asked her son to look for my last name in the telephone book, find my phone number, and call me.

Her instructions were simple. She asked me to pick it up at her home address. I was hesitant at first. I told her that she could just drop it at the post office next time she goes there. Then, there was this pregnant pause. She said that she doesn't go out of her house anymore. I felt ashamed at that point.

So I asked her for her home address. She said that she lives in... Vlu blah blah blah. I said, could you please repeat that again? She said, Vlu blah blah blah. I said, could you please say that slowly? I am not a native Dutch speaker. She said slowly, Vlu blah blah blah. For the nth time, I said, what was that again? Patiently, she repeated the street name.

It's not that I'm deaf or stupid. I just couldn't spell it on paper. So I asked her to spell it out for me.
And she said, sure, child. Then she started spelling it out for me. She said: F for Fluweelplein.... L for... ya, Fluweelplein. U for ....

At that point, I stopped her. I said, you know what, I'll just check the map. Luckily, I found it.

The thing is, when she said Fluweelplein, it sounded like: VLU-VIE-PLA-YEN. I couldn't understand her.

So I biked to her place. Expensive flat. Only two apartments for each floor.

I rang the bell. A fragile, old lady came out. She's 81 years old. She invited me in. She has a wonderful view of the entire city. Very nice... Her furniture were old, and expensive. The old lady did have an exquisite taste, I must add.

I thanked her for everything. But I felt like she wanted me to stay. So I stayed for a little longer. She told me that she just lost her husband. He had cancer of the brain. He was 81. I tried to console her by telling her that 81 is old, and that a lot of people die younger. My father passed away when he was 67. So for me, 81 is quite something.

Then, I realized how tactless I was when I saw the elderly woman's face froze. How could I be so clumsy! But of course, she is also 81. I might as well have said, you are old and may die now.

But I guess the thing about being old is that, you tend to let those small things... petty things really,... go unnoticed. I'm sure she was offended, but I didn't see her dwell on that nasty remark I made. Instead, she told me stories about how she and her husband spent summer last year. They went on a camping holiday in Giethoorn. Giethoorn is known for its beautiful canals. It's also called the Venice of the north.

I listened to her intently. She is talking about the past in present tense. I'm sure she wasn't stupid. But I know how it feels to lose a loved one. When my grandma passed away, it took me years to learn to talk about her in the past tense.

Later on, I went home with a smile on my face and a story that I will probably tell for the rest of my life. I've learned three things from that old woman.

One, you should always do the right thing.

Second, if you receive a letter that is not addressed to you, don't throw it away. Check out the telephone book for the person, contact him/her. Give that person the chance to read his/her letter.

And lastly, don't focus too much on people's shortcomings. Life is short. Forgive, forget.. and move on.


Geo said...

thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful experience and the most thought-provoking lessons learnt!

one of the so few great posts i've read so far!

the last three sentences is worth repeating...

"And lastly, don't focus too much on people's shortcomings. Life is short. Forgive, forget.. and move on."

how true, how true, how true

thanks for the great reminder!


Droomvla said...

Thanks, Geo! :)

cherie said...

oh my gualy, kagayun sadi!!! visit her more often!

Droomvla said...

HAHAHAHAHAHA.... we'll see. But hey, thanks! ;)

rwidiani said...

wow, what a story, mbak marissa!
i admire your patience so much

Jesusa said...

kagayon man daw sadi na storya mo. sana most people pareho sa iya. you found a new friend:)

Droomvla said...

Retno: Glad to see you again here. Oh, I can be very impatient too! Don't be deceived. lol

Grace: She's a lovely lady, but I don't think it's a good idea to impose myself on her. Maybe if she calls again, I'll go and visit her. :)

Pinay in Dutchland said...

this is a nice story. im glad to have come across your blog.

Droomvla said...

Thank you, Pinay in Dutchland. ;)

A Touch of Dutch said...

Finally have some time to look through your blog! I'm glad I did :-)

I agree about the last 3 sentences. Life is too short to waste it on being angry or upset, and it's no use holding grudges. For myself, I try to not remain upset at anyone & forgive, moving on. Deal with it first, but then just let it go. It can be hard to do, but it's best for the soul, and best for both sides.

I've had something similar happen with the mail-situation. I try to make it a habit to drop them off at the post office, unless I happen to go by their area first. I do so because I know for a fact a friend in America didn't address her letters to me correctly. She typed the address onto the envelope, and she typed my house number wrong. When I found out, I went to that address. They threw those letters to me away :-(

Alright, I wrote a book. I'll stop now ;-)

Droomvla said...

@A Touch of Dutch: Yup, life is short. But I still think that anger is also good for our well-being. We get angry to protect ourselves. But of course, staying angry is another story.

Whenever I get letters that aren´t mine, I always mail them back with together with a RETURN TO SENDER note.

BTW, I love your blog! ;)

Anita said...

"Life is short": That is so BLOODY true !

Droomvla said...

Anita: I know!!! I was looking at my high school pics, and I realized that my mom was about my age now when I was in high school. Then I got scared about my mortality! LOL

Droomvla said...

my own mortality

buday said...

I'll join the chorus, kadianis sadi na story. I could picture the old lady in my mind while I was reading it. M. Menchie told me to check out your blog. Beri gud! :)

Droomvla said...

Melody? Marjorie? lol... Di man pwede si Melanie kay nasa Sorsee siya ha? hahahaha

Anyway,... thanks for popping round. Haen na si Menchie. Miss ko na an blog niya. Anay kay in aabangan ko pirme.

buday said...

Melodie ini. And an naimagine ko baya na nasa story mo, bagan si Mary Walter, hahaha.
(Naraot an laptop ni Minchitay, pati drafts niya, nawara.)

Droomvla said...

Hello, Melodie!!! Nalagalag ka daw. hahahahaha Tabangan an kalag ni Mary Walter! hahahahahaha

Amo, namention niya sa latest blog niya an pangyari san laptop niya. I was hoping na nahingayad na kay miss na miss ko na an blog niya. Hayyyy....