I have a big surprise for your birthday today. For the first time ever, I think I found the perfect gift. Are you ready?
Remember when I was away at school, and you'd send me boxes full of Dudley's fruit bars and a massive pack of Bic pens from the Price Club? There would always be a note inside, in your perfect cursive handwriting, with a tidbit about the guinea pigs or the cat or something funny about Mrs. Schneiders next door. Advice and a prayer were usually included, too.
Remember how you invented your own version of Red Envelope when your grandkids were born and living a thousand miles away from you? We unwrapped outfits, bought on sale, with the extra senior discount and free gift wrapping. Each one was topped with a bright red envelope with the grandchild's name spelled out in colorful stickers, and another handwritten note, this time in clear block letters for them to "read".
You even befriended the lady at the Burbank Post Office, convinced that your packages full of diaper coupons and nubby crocheted blankets heading out to new moms would get special expedited treatment*.
I loved getting those packages, and so did all the many, many other people who were lucky enough to find one of your priority mail boxes on their front stoop. But now, I finally understand that sending them meant even more to you.
You were alone, but your heart was full of us. Of your children no longer under foot. Of your grandchildren babbling and walking without you. So you took all that caring and worry and pride and pure aching wish to be near them and boxed it up and put it in the mail, with cookies. You taped it with care, and walked the few blocks to the Post Office. You probably felt immensely better immediately, picturing the faces when the package was opened, knowing the love inside was from you.
When Jasper left for college last year, I wanted nothing more than to call you and say, "I get it! I barely thought of you the whole time I was at school and you just accepted it and sent cookies? I'm so sorry. Oh my God! How did you survive this?!? "
But it was me on my own this time. I couldn't call you. You were gone, too.
So I started baking. I took all my caring and worry and pride and aching to be near him and boxed it up and put it in the mail, with cookies. I taped it with care and drove the few blocks to the Post Office.**
I felt immensely better. I survived.
It turned out you knew exactly what to do, Mom. And now I do, too.
I started a care package company, and I named it after you.
It's called Mom in the Mail.***
Happy Birthday, Mom.
One of the many thank you notes that Mom saved from recipients of her care packages.
* Based on personal experience, I think they probably did get sent out just a tiny bit faster than everyone else's.
** It is LA. No way I walk to the post office.
*** In honor of Mom, use the coupon code "LOVEMOM" and get 10% off any order placed for my inaugural shipment. She would have loved that.