I live in a remote part of the country and have worked for the last twenty years as a postman driving a mail truck from the depot in my town to every far-flung corner of the county, in almost any weather and without regard to cost, it seems to me.
Something has stirred in a government department far above my circle of influence and it has been decided, in remote areas at least, to do away with individual daily deliveries and deposit post for collection at the local post offices on a weekly basis. This may sound harsh or even cruel to you, given how important these fragile missives can be, but a casual disinterest in the feelings of the underprivileged is a characteristic of those in power.
My job gone and my final round complete, I travelled back to my town for the last time imagining, as I drove, that a man looking down on me might say, “The mail truck goes down the coast carrying a single letter” because that was the truth.
And it wasn’t just any letter but one addressed to me and from my father from whom I had not heard in thirty years. I have children of my own now, teenagers, and he has never met them. He left our childhood home to chase some new sweetheart across the country and my mother, a decent pious woman if a bit severe, closed the door on him and, as far as possible, erased him from our history.
When I saw the letter I recognised the handwriting because it had been a childhood hobby of mine to sift through family papers and there were many notes from him on his family history and about the adventure of emigrating from England with his parents when he was a boy,
Back at the depot, I picked up the letter from the seat beside me and looked once more at the writing on the envelope; more fragile, perhaps, but clearly his, and removed the letter from inside it.
“Dear Son,” It said, I have only weeks to live and I wish, more than I can describe, to say goodbye to my only boy before I go.”
How he got my address I cannot say, but as I read the letter I realised he was now bedridden and incapable of travel. As I put it down I felt the tears flow down my cheeks, realising that you can love someone without even knowing it.
The truck was not mine to use, but without another thought I re-started the engine and drove off towards the place where he now lived and swore to myself that, whatever the cost, he would not die alone.