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Birthday Card for Mrs. Rogers
I picked up my bag of letters,
left the post office and started my long ride through the streets of Hillwick.
It was seven o’clock on a sunny summer morning. The bright morning made me
happy, but there was another reason for my happiness. My wife and I were from
London, but when they needed a postman in Hillwick I had decided to apply for
the job. It had been a successful application and now six weeks later, we had a
comfortable little house with a good garden and we felt very happy. It was much
quieter than the city life we had known and already we were beginning to make
I’ve always liked my work. I like the fresh air and the exercise and people need postmen to carry their letters safely. The business life of the country stops if letters are not delivered. But really I like delivering the private letters most. People write to their old friends and other people in their families. Boys write to girls they love and people send cards to remember special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries. It makes me very happy to carry all these things to people to bring a smile to their faces.
I was thinking of these things as I rode my bicycle down Gold Street on that bright summer morning. Most of the buildings were shops and offices, and I delivered letters to them all. My bag was feeling much lighter when I turned into Church Road. Here all the buildings were small family houses with neat gardens and brightly coloured doors. Not many of the houses in Church Road had letters that morning, so I soon arrived at the last house; Number 92. I had three letters for that address. When I opened the gate to the front garden I heard a voice.
‘You’ve forgotten my letter, postman.’
The voice came from the garden of Number 91. A woman was standing in front of the door of that house.
‘Wait a minute’ I answered. ‘I’ll deliver these letters to Number 92, then I’ll come back.
I pushed the letters through the letterbox of Number 92 and then I walked slowly up the garden path of number 91. I searched my bag carefully, but I couldn’t find any letters for that address. The woman stood waiting for me with a little smile on her face. She seemed so sure that I had a letter for her and I didn’t want to disappoint her. She put out her hand and I could see she had a big gold ring on her finger. Her grey hair was bright in the sunlight. She was wearing a dark green dress and shiny shoes. I searched through my bag again.
‘Perhaps its’ a card’ she said ‘sometimes he sends me a card and sometimes a letter.’
Her voice was soft and her big brown eyes watched me as I searched.
‘A card or a letter’ she said’ from my son in America. He lives there now but he never forgets my birthday. It’s my birthday today, postman.’
‘I hope you’ll be happy…’ I wanted her to be happy. I wanted her to have a letter, but I knew that I didn’t have one for her. I looked through my bag again.
‘Please look Mr. Postman’ she said ‘a letter or card for Mrs. Emily Rogers of 91 Church Road’.
I looked through my bag again. I knew there was no mistake. There was nothing for Mrs. Rogers, but I didn’t want to make this gentle lady sad. I felt angry with her son. It was wrong of him to forget his mother’s birthday. I couldn’t tell her that, but that’s what I thought.
At last I had to speak
‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Rogers, there’s nothing here for you. Perhaps..tomorrow…I’m so sorry…’
The happy smile was gone, and I saw tears in here eyes. Suddenly she looked very small and very old.
‘Something’s happened to him,’ she said. Her voice was very weak. ‘He’s never forgotten before.’
She turned away from me. When I reached the gate, I looked back. The front door of number 91 was slowly closing. I delivered the rest of the letters and cards in my bag and I returned to the post office. My morning’s work was finished and I was free until six o’clock that evening. Then I had to go to the railway station with the letters that were posted in Hillwick. I started to ride my bicycle down Sheep Street, but I stopped at a little café for a cup of coffee. What a sad birthday for Mrs. Rogers! I really wanted to make her happy, but how?
Suddenly I had an idea. I went to a newspaper shop where they sold birthday cards. I chose a card for Mrs. Rogers. I chose the card very carefully. It was a copy of a famous picture by an English painter called Turner. It had beautiful colours and showed a sunset over the sea. Inside there was a simple message ‘Happy Birthday’ Below the message I wrote
‘For Mrs. Rogers. I hope that I can bring a letter from your son tomorrow.’ Then I signed my name and added ‘Your postman.’
I felt better after that. It wasn’t a birthday card from her son of course, but it was a card on her birthday. Somebody was thinking about her. At the bottom of Gold Street, I turned left into Church Road. A big lorry was parked outside the houses. The traffic wasn’t moving and I had to wait. I thought about the day’s problems while I waited. Why wasn’t I at home now, working in my garden? Why was I trying to look after Mrs. Rogers?
‘And why haven’t I seen her
before?’ I asked myself, ‘I’ve worked in Hillwick and delivered letters in
Church Road for six weeks now, but there haven’t been any letters for number
91, I haven’t seen Mrs. Rogers either at her door or in her garden. It’s
I had no answers to these questions. The traffic began to move and I rode to Mrs. Roger’s house. I got off my bicycle at her garden gate. While I walked up the garden path, I tried to solve another problem. ‘Should I push the card through her letterbox and walk away?’ I asked myself ‘No, that’s not very friendly. It’s her birthday. She’ll want to talk to someone’
So I knocked loudly on her door. I held the card out in front of me and I waited for the door to open.
‘You won’t get an answer there, postman.’
The voice came from the next garden. A woman was looking at me. She lived in number 92 and her name was Sparson. I knew this from her letters.
‘I don’t understand……’ I said
‘The house is empty.’ she said.
‘I’ve got a birthday card for Mrs. Rogers,’ I said ‘It’s her birthday today.’
‘I know it is, ’she said ‘………or it was.’
‘Was?’ I asked ‘What do you mean?’
‘Number 91 is empty. Nobody has lived there for a year.’
‘But I saw Mrs. Rogers this morning. She was waiting for me. She told me about her birthday and she was hoping for a card from her son. She said he never forgot her birthday. He lives in America.’
‘ He did live in America.’ Mrs. Sparson’s voice seemed louder suddenly. ’A year ago today, Mrs. Rogers was waiting for a birthday card from her son. You see he never forgot her birthday although he lived so far away. The card didn’t arrive. Later that day she got a phone call from New York. It was from the Police. Her son was dead, killed in a traffic accident.’
‘What terrible news!’ I said ‘and on her birthday too!’
‘It was’ said Mrs. Sparson ‘ She collapsed when she heard the news and by that evening she too was dead. The doctor said she had a broken heart.’
I stood there for a minute. Then I put Mrs. Roger’s birthday card in my pocket and I walked slowly to the garden gate.