One of my favorite things about owning a home is tackling my long list of improvements, one at a time (Jonathan may not agree). I love to see a space’s potential and then practice patience while I wait for it to come together. Disclaimer: this is a relatively new hobby.
Alright. You got me. I don’t always love to practice patience when it comes to home improvements. 🙂
When we moved into our house last August, the mailbox went on the “improvements” list. It was functional…mostly. But, it had chipped paint, a little rust, and the door was pretty tough to open and close all the way without getting jammed.
Another little fact about me is that I love practical gifts. No, really, I do! So, I was more than pleased to receive a new mailbox from my brother-in-law, Timothy, for Christmas. What can I say?
Last Monday, Liam and I decided to head outside since it was sunny and pretty warm (especially for February) and figure out how to disassemble the old mailbox and replace it with my Christmas present. My goal was to keep the existing pole that it sat upon, so it took more than just knocking it out of the ground and putting a new one in its place.
As Liam sat in the driveway and played with Lola, I started on it. Then, our neighbor, Ann, came out to say hello. She’s a sweet, elderly lady that has lived in her house since the 1950s. While we were visiting, an elderly gentleman (we have young neighbors, too!) came walking down the street, commenting on how he hadn’t seen Ann in a while. I had never seen him, let alone, met him. His name is Marvin. You can tell he’s the kind of man that has been slowed down by all of his years and is maybe sometimes a little forgetful, but definitely still all there. A sharp, active mind.
Marvin introduced himself, asked when we moved, if we had found a church yet, and what my husband did for a living. Then, his attention turned to my mailbox. He started giving me a few pieces of advice on disassembling the thing, which I appreciated since some of the nuts and bolts were rather rusted and I was having trouble getting it apart. I think he could tell, because he started taking it apart himself and then offering to cut and replace the wood the mailbox sat on. I told him I didn’t want to impose, and he assured me that he enjoyed having something to do.
Marvin told me that he and his wife also moved into the neighborhood around the time that Ann did. He’s been a widower for thirteen years now. He said he hasn’t been getting out lately, and he was happy to have a project. The last wood project he worked on, he told me, was building a china cabinet for his granddaughter. She died last December of a pulmonary embolus at the age of 39.
He said he would head back to the shop behind his house (after finishing his walk around the block, that is) and cut a piece of wood for my mailbox. Marvin came back an hour or so later with his own nails, screws, nuts, bolts, and power drill and put our new mailbox up. It took him a little longer than most, maybe. I tried to help, but he wanted to do it for me. A “welcome to the neighborhood” gift, he said. And when he was finished, he came and told me that I should tell my husband that I did it mostly on my own, with just a little help from a neighbor. I told him Jonathan probably wouldn’t believe that I put a mailbox up on my own, anyway.
I was not expecting to meet Marvin. This sweet, old man really blessed me by taking time out of his day to help me, a person he had just met.
Our encounter inspired me to be the kind of person when I get older that takes time to help a stranger. It got me thinking. He likely did not just wake up that way when he got older. Sharing kindness is a learned practice over time. How often do I stop what I’m doing to help someone in need without expecting anything in return? How often do I stop long enough to notice someone who could use something that I have to offer?
Food for thought in this busy world we live in these days.
Did I mention that I love our neighborhood?!