By: pbcmedia

Mar 05 2009

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Category: Aging, anxiety, ANXIETY 2.0, Deep Thoughts, Inspiration, Personal


Focal Length:85mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

This mailbox belongs to a corner house that is literally only several feet from a busy highway.  To illustrate the closeness, I took this photo late this afternoon while stopped at the light through my passenger window with only an 85mm lens.

I always notice this house as I have seen an elderly blind woman with short cropped white hair walking across the street with a dog wearing a harness and then walk into the side door.  She follows the dog across the street but at times it is hard to tell who is actually in the lead.

I imagine her to be alone although I do not know for sure.  I never see her walking with anyone but the dog.  The house has an apple tree orchard and a rather large garden.  I feel sure someone must help with these activities,  but it would not surprise me to find out that this lone woman takes care of everything by herself.

She gives off that air of resilience.

When I got home after taking the photograph,  I learned that Horton Foote had died, a playwright of over 50 plays and screen plays–“Tender Mercies”, “Trip to Bountiful” are two that come to mind.  He wrote about people like the woman  who lives on the corner of West Central.

In the NYTimes today they said:

Mr. Foote, in a 1986 interview in The New York Times Magazine, said: “I believe very deeply in the human spirit and I have a sense of awe about it because I don’t know how people carry on. What makes the difference in people? What is it? I’ve known people that the world has thrown everything at to discourage them, to kill them, to break their spirit. And yet something about them retains a dignity. They face life and don’t ask quarters.”

I have often wondered what I would be like if incapacitated in some way, in  some extreme way.

If blinded, my first thought is instead of a seeing eye dog, I’d probably opt for one of those human transport vehicles or sedan chairs with ten hulky carriers to take me across the street to get a coffee and a pizza and then haul me back stopping traffic.

I would go through a terrible phase where I’d face life by asking quarters every damn minute, feeling so very sorry for myself.  When I’d stumble around to get to the mailbox– nothing but bills would be in it.

Then, somehow, I think (I hope) I’d get over it.  I don’t know how long it would take, though.   But, eventually, much too long into it I feel sure, I’d grow a backbone or more than likely do something creative with my new found darkness.   How would the outside world know that I’d come ’round and it was safe to come to my door without me kidnapping them for some personal service request?

I’d flip the red flag up on the mailbox.  Maybe I’d have a letter in there to mail or maybe a failed cake (even sighted my cakes all fail) I decided to try to bake unable to read the instructions.  Maybe,  it would just be empty inside but the flag would be up.

And,  I’d ditch  the sedan chair and get the dog and try to get across the damn street by myself.

Rent Horton Foote’s “A Trip to Bountiful” sometime soon.  Geraldine Paige is the actress and I think she won the Academy Award for her performance.

Her character, I know, lives in my town in a corner lot with an apple orchard.

©Pat Coakley 2009


5 comments on “Mailbox”

  1. “They face life and don’t ask quarters.” – Sounds like you.


    Be well.

  2. mabey you would hear”laughter in the dark”

  3. what a beautiful piece, pat, in every way, the picture, the story, very moving and ripe with meaning and possibilities, thank you so much for this!

  4. This photo reminds me of my grandmother. She used to live in Waltham, MA. Of course I grew up in CA and this was the days before the internet.

    She would tell me that she would stand out in the snow by her mailbox and wait for mail from me. I used to imagine her tiny self standing out there in the cold snow until I got old enough to realize……lol

    Beautiful photo.. brought a smile to my face Pat!

  5. Well, I may give that impression, jean-claude, but I’m doing my best Meryl Streep.

    NKG: You kill me. Every minute with this laughter in the dark….alright, alright.

    tipota…oh, I’m so glad you read this. I just found out from a neighbor that she lives there with her family..and they are all blind! They run the orchard. Now, isn’t that amazing?

    Amber girl, now, I love that story about your grandmother!! I bet she did it, too!!

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