I haven't yet shared the wonderful-ness that is my mailman. I should say now that I'm talking about my mailman at my house, in Soulard, and not at my apartment, in Tower Grove South.
Mark the mailman first came into my family's lives when I was in 7th grade. He was sweet, handsome, and always willing to stop and chat, for a few minutes or even longer. He always has this AMAZING smile that just lights up the block (I say block because I've encountered him more times outside than inside) and makes everything better.
He brought me my high school acceptance letter. It was Mardi Gras in Soulard, which falls on a Saturday, and the neighborhood was jam-packed, especially because the parade used to go down 12th street (my street). But he showed up to our house (later than usual) with that special R-K logo-ed envelope. Mom and I had been sitting on the front steps of our house all day, watching the parade and waiting for the mail. My other girlfriends had called - "did you get in?!" and it was KILLING me, knowing that they had and I was still waiting to find out. Mark waited until I opened the letter and then jumped up and down with me and mom and gave me a huge hug and said congratulations.
A couple of months later, I was graduating from grade school. The day of my big graduation bash, I was sitting outside, on the same front porch, waiting for the guests to arrive. My grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins were coming down from Chicago and mom had planted me outside to be the first the greet them. Mark came up with our mail, noticed the giant party tent that was pitched in our backyard, and said, "what's all that for?" I explained that I was graduating the next day and today was the party. He smiled and said that he remembered his eighth grade graduation and how fun it was, but how long ago it seemed. Then, after putting our mail in the mailbox, he reached into his wallet and gave me $40. "Remember to always be how you are, right now," he said. "You're a great kid. Don't change." Then he gave me a hug, said congratulations again, and continued on his route. I was in awe. I couldn't believe that our mailman had just given me $40.
We have a huge Christmas party at my house every year for needy families. We receive our families through Midtown Catholic Charities, which is a fabulous organization in St. Louis that some parishioners from our church run. We get two families consisting of 12 or 14 people, and then send out invitations to, like, EVERYONE my parents know in Soulard with the wish lists from the family. Come to the party, bring a gift for them. My sister and I and our friends sort the presents out (one family in the play room, the other in the guest room) and then have piles for each designated family member. My dad has a very sophisticated listing system for which neighbor gets which family member, so we never have too many for one person.
Anyway. Mark began to come to our parties every December. He delivers mail all over Soulard, and since the majority of the people coming to the party were from Soulard, well - he started coming! Everyone loved seeing him out of his work environment. We could have entire conversations with him. He brought his gorgeous wife, Faith, to the parties too. And if he couldn't come that evening, he brought a huge stack of presents for the families during the day on his mail route.
When I was in high school, he saved one of my neighbor's lives when he walked up to the front door to put the mail in the slot, and saw him (Clark) lying unconscious on the floor. He broke into the house and called 911 and if he hadn't been there to do that, well...
He helped paint another neighbor's house. He's dog-sat for some people around, too. He lives up in North City, near Crown Candy, and he ran for alderman a couple of years ago. He didn't get the vote, but he had a huge party to drum up support and a ton of people from Soulard went. Apparently it was tons of fun. I wasn't 21 yet so I couldn't.
The reason Mark has been in my head lately is because I ran into him last week. I usually go home on Sundays to visit with mom, dad, and Louie, and since mail isn't delivered on Sundays, I don't see him. But last week there was a gas leak in our alley and the Laclede Gas guys had to be let into our house to look at something and I was the only one available to unlock the doors for them. I found myself at home for a few hours and as I was about to jump in my car and speed off to work, Mark's mail truck pulled up.
"Girl, I heard you are getting MARRIED!" he said, giving me a big hug. "That's crazy! I'm so happy for you!" We talked about marriage and having kids and my ring and his sons (who are now 11 and 8?! WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN? I REMEMBER BOTH OF THEM BEING BORN!) and Faith. It was really great catching up with him.
"So - you just make sure you invite me to that graduation party of yours, okay?" he said, as he started heading up towards John and Steve's house, the first on our block.
"Oh, you know you're getting invited to the wedding, right?" I asked.
"I can't wait," he said, as we bumped fists. "Good luck with school!" he continued, wandering off.