I still get mail for my grandfather, even though it’s been more than six years since his death. Things also trickle in for my grandmother, although not nearly as often.
Grandpa Sid married my grandmother in 1969, three and half years after her first husband died from a massive heart attack. Despite his “step” status (and the existence of his own five biological grandchildren), he was the only grandfather my sister and I ever had, and so he took his role with us very seriously. He welcomed us into their two-bedroom apartment for weeks at a time every summer, allowing us to take over the room that housed his home office and closet. He would come in as we were getting ready for bed each night and pick out his clothes for the next day so that we could all sleep in without being disturbed.
He always had bus tokens tucked in the top drawer of his desk, and there were containers of tic tacs (that he would pour into our open hands) in the pockets of his coats. He drank hot Tetley tea with dinner, and a meal wasn’t a meal without a plate of bread or rolls on the table. He was vehemently again water ice, because of the red food coloring and when he took us out to eat at Little Pete’s, he would recite the menu from memory. He was a brilliant and an international known scientist who worked well past his 90th birthday, but never learned to use a computer.
He died when I was 21, three days before my senior thesis was due. I wasn’t able to fly back to Philly for the funeral.
It’s been months since I’ve gotten any mail for him, but today, for some strange reason, there was not one, but two items addressed to him in my mail box. I stood sorting my mail as I rode the elevator up to my apartment, and when I saw his name, I let out an amused little snort. The woman to my right gave me a sideways glance before looking down again. The envelopes contained solicitations for money, so they don’t require a response, although I’ll probably toss them back into the mail box with a “Return to Sender, Addressee Deceased” notice on them, in the hopes that it might stem the tide of future mailings.
Then again, maybe I won’t send them back, as there part of me that doesn’t welcome that last piece of junk mail with his name on it. Because if he can receive mail, then there’s still part of him that’s still alive, even if it’s just for the 30 seconds during which I sort my mail, once every three months.