In today’s worldof e-mails, texts, and instant messaging, the art of writing letters is nearly extinct, which is only one reason why the love envelope I received today is unique. No, that is not a typo; I wrote love envelope, not love letter, because that is exactly what I received this morning from one of the older gentleman who frequents the day shelter for homeless men where I work.
Most envelopes are torn open and discarded to reveal the contents inside, but this envelope was like no other envelope I have ever received. It was more suitable for framing than for recycling....
Every morning, I am greeted by this gentleman whom I affectionately refer to as “My Stan Man”. He always offers me a genuine smile and holds my hand in his, as he updates me about current events, fills me in on how he is doing, and asks me about my day. From time to time, he slips me carefully folded notes with simple requests for basic necessities, so, this morning, when he beckoned me to the table where he was seated at and handed me another note, I assumed that he was in need of something else. I was wrong.
I took the note from his weathered hand and headed to my office to read it. As I carefully unfolded it, I realized that today’s note was different, as it was written on an envelope, not a scrap piece of paper as usual, but it is what was written on the outside of the envelope that set it apart from any of the other notes My Stan Man has slipped me over the years. On the front of the envelope, in My Stan Man’s distinct handwriting, I read the following words:
“Kristi, thanks for everything you have done for me. Love you always. Stan”
I was grateful to be in the privacy of my office, because I barely got past the words “thank you” when tears began to silently roll down my cheeks and onto the envelope.
His heartfelt gratitude touched my heart, as what I have done for him definitely is not what inspires most people to take pen, or in this case, pencil to paper to write a love note, or rather a love envelope. I have given him socks, underwear, and t-shirts when asked, and we share daily chats. These are things that I barely give a second thought to, as they seem like such meager things, and I always feel like I get more from our interactions than he does.
Once again, I was wrong.
It never ceases to amaze me to see how little things mean the most to people who have next to nothing, and to have My Stan Man thank me for these small gestures, when he has much greater needs that I have failed to meet, like safe, affordable housing, humbles me greatly. Once I composed myself, I headed back out to the table where My Stan Man sat, and I held his hand and said quietly to him,
“Thank you for your lovely note and for making my day”.
His face lit up, and he said, “You’re welcome. You know I love you”, to which I responded like I do whenever any of our guys say that they love, me. I smiled and replied, ”I love you right back.” This may be the first love envelope I have been given, but I doubt that any other love envelope or love letter could ever top it.
Stan, thanks for everything you have done for me. Love you always.
That’s another story . . .