Letters for a Man Called Reg

I seem to remember laughing my way through the two years working at the Post Office but I was young and restless and despaired at the thought of working there for years to come. I felt that my life was at a crossroads and I made the risky decision to ‘better myself’ by taking up a full time college course, having been out of education for three years.

It turned out to be the best decision I ever made as far as my employment prospects were concerned but it was sad to say goodbye to the crew at the Post Office. I still kept in touch with them all though, including Reg.

Over the next few years, my life changed dramatically and by 1986, I was preparing to leave England for California with my American husband, who had secured a job with the Department of Corrections, and my little boy. It broke my heart to have to leave my family and friends, especially knowing that we were going to a part of California where we didn’t know anyone. I hadn’t even met my in-laws, my little boy’s grandparents.

The way we communicated in the 1980’s was vastly different to the way we do so today. This was before the internet, emails, and cheap overseas telephone calling plans. My family and I made promises to write letters to each other as often as possible and letters from home became my lifeline.

I always remember my last conversation with Reg before I left. I had dropped by to say goodbye to my Post Office pals and Reg, I knew, was upset, although he tried not to show it too much in front of everyone. He had been appalled when I had told the news of my upcoming move to America. ‘What do you want to go there for? Haven’t you got all you need here?’ he had asked, incredulous.

This coming from a man whose idea of a big trip was to go into town some eleven miles away, and that by bus. He lived a simple, somewhat hardscrabble life and had no time for what he perceived as the rich ‘Yanks’ and all their material trappings. I promised him that I would write and not forget his birthday but he teased me saying that I would never remember an ‘old’ man like him. I assured him that I would not forget him and that a promise was a promise.

Soon enough there I was, living in America with a mailbox at the end of our driveway. It became more important to me that I had ever imagined. A shot of excitement would course through me whenever I saw the mail van and I would rush out to the mailbox. Oh, the indescribable joy when, amongst the usual bills, I found a pale blue airmail envelope with my mother’s safe and familiar writing scrawled across it! The first thing I always did was to clasp it to my face, drinking in the scent of home and warmth as it flooded my homesick heart with comfort and love.

So it was that for many years, great reams of letters flew back and forth across the shining sea, bringing news, most happy, some sad, just ordinary, every day titbits, all of which I relished. I kept my promise to Reg and he kept his to me, as we remembered each other’s birthdays every year. At Christmas, I always looked forward to receiving his card with his little letter inside giving news of just him, his wife and his little dog Pip and their quiet, steady lives.

Not long after we moved to California, I thought it would be nice to include photos of my children and brief snippets of family news in our Christmas cards, and although he never met them, Reg always wrote back to tell me how thrilled he and his wife were to read about their progress.

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  1. Lovely, poignant piece, and so well written. Thank you~

  2. Thank you very much Shelly, I’m so glad that you enjoyed it.

  3. This is a heartwarming, touching piece, Sherri. I feel for Reg and his wife and understand why he wanted to leave you something. You must have been like a daughter to him and made him very happy.

  4. What a lovely surprise Tess! Thank you so much for reading this piece and yes, I’m so glad that Reg and I kept in touch for all those years…

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