Updated: Sep 26, 2020
This week, I am spotlighting Lois and the wonderful way that she used letter writing to bring joy to her mother.
Lois is one of our earliest volunteers. She joined way back in April! Since then, she’s been writing letters and bringing joy to countless seniors from around the US - she even designed a LAI logo sticker for volunteers to use to make their letters identifiable. (If you're interested in the sticker, please click here). Shreya and I have had the pleasure of getting to know her a little at our monthly Zoom parties. During one of the parties, she shared this story and inspired me to share some of our volunteers’ stories. Thank you, Lois!
The story starts with Lois trying to find a way to celebrate the 90th birthday of her mother, Anna. For the two and a half months prior to her birthday, Anna had been in and out of the ICU and critical care unit at her local hospital. It looked like she would be in the hospital on her birthday, so Lois wanted to find a way to bring the celebration to her mom. Anna had always treasured cards that friends and family had sent her. So, Lois decided that it only made sense to ask friends and family from all over to send Anna cards to commemorate her milestone birthday!
Anna’s birthday was a wonderful, sunny day! Anna, Lois, and Anna’s nephew, Michael, spent the day in a spacious hospital room filled with three floral arrangements, dozens of roses, a flowering plant, balloons, and celebratory decorations. The real showstopper was the over 70 cards from loved ones around the country! Nieces, nephews, cousins, friends, and many more sent her messages with handwritten notes and drawings. The cards came from all over - Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Arizona! Lois filled an entire wall of mom’s room with these colorful cards. One of the staff members said that she had never seen an individual receive so many cards before! She was amazed by all of the love and support that Anna received.
The cards that Anna received deeply touched her. She felt so loved because so many people took the time to send her a card and let her know that they cared about her. When I asked Lois if her mom had a favorite card, she told me that she would like to think that it was one of the cards that she had made for her mom. Lois went on to tell me though that Anna treasured each and every one of the cards. Anna asked to be buried with a collection of cards that she had saved over the years so that she is eternally surrounded by the love of her dear family and friends.
After seeing the amazing impact that their birthday cards had on Anna, two of Lois’ friends, Nancy and Gail, continued to send Anna cards. Each month, Nancy would send Anna a beautiful, handwritten, and uplifting note. Nancy told Lois that sending cards “gave me a purpose in life, knowing how much they meant to Anna.” Gail sent Anna birthday cards and Christmas cards. Inside, she would write notes with bright and colorful inks. She also drew small decorations like cakes, balloons, and tree ornaments to complement the occasion. Anna absolutely loved the little drawings and decorations! It is truly touching to see that Nancy and Gail continued to send Anna uplifting notes. What they did really embodies what we strive to do at LAI: to send seniors frequent, joyful messages that they can look forward to and treasure.
The wonderful effects of Anna’s birthday cards continue to ripple out! When Lois heard about Letters Against Isolation, she saw the spirit of her mothers’ cards and had to get involved. Through Anna, Lois saw how much joy a handwritten note can bring to an individual, and she wanted to share this joy with more seniors. It is touching how one act of kindness can inspire another. I hope that like Anna’s letters, our letters will make seniors feel loved, connected, and valued while also inspiring communities to engage in more acts of kindness.
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Thank you for spreading joy and helping us fight senior loneliness!