A point of view by Paul Montesino

Dying for a Christmas card.
A Point of View © 1996
By Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA.

Based on “Mr. Mailman; Please Write Her a Letter,” a story by Pedro Pablo Montesino Sanchez (1909-1995.) published in October of 1969. (Edited and adapted by Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA.)

The old fragile woman, with her cotton-white hair and eternally sad appearance, was prompt every single day standing next to the sidewalk in front of her unassuming house, waiting for the mailman. She was anxious for a letter or just a Christmas card!

As soon as she spotted the white and blue uniformed image of the mail carrier in the distance following his intricate daily route, the face of the old woman suddenly shone with happiness, expectations, and hope. That man would certainly bring today the message of love she earnestly awaited. As he approached her, the woman quivered with emotion, her heart beating at a higher rate. It was like a flow of new life that filled her up. There, in that shoulder bag carried by the man would lie the expected letter, the Christmas card, a message of relief and happiness sealed in an envelope. And the mailman, as he came close to the woman, would repeat the same words of disappointment of the day before: “Sorry madam, today I have no correspondence for you either.”

The old woman, her hopes dashed one more time, would knit her thick eyebrows, pain and desperation reflected on her face, shedding tears from her tired old eyes, tears she would wipe away with trembling hands and an old, wrinkled handkerchief. The letter she waited for had not come that day either. She then returned to the room that served her as a refuge to wait until the following morning; a new day when she might receive a card or a letter from her beloved son that she anticipated with anguish and motherly love.

Time went by day by sullen day and always the poor old woman, under the morning sun, waited for the mailman and received the same disappointing answer: “Sorry madam, today I don’t have a letter for you.” As the branches of the Christmas trees withered down, so did the hopes of this anxious mother.

And it was that the letter could never arrive. The son she loved so dearly had been involved in a revolutionary uprising against the Castro dictatorship one day and had become a nameless victim of the firing squad. The old mother had been lied to by protecting friends and in her unwavering and eternal faith believed that he was still alive, in another country perhaps, happy and full of life like the day he had given her a goodbye kiss and a promise to love her forever. That is why she always waited every day for the letter that never arrived; the letter that would never arrive, the simple Christmas card she longed for.

One day, it was still early in the morning, the old woman was not waiting for the mailman as was her practice and costume. The neighbors, concerned for her absence, went looking for her in the humble quarters where she lived. They found her sick, gravely ill, and crying. In the stupor produced by the fever, all she asked was to see a letter, the letter she wanted from her son.

The neighbors called a doctor and took care of her with love. One of them went to the sidewalk, stood in the same place where the woman did every day, and waited patiently for the customary arrival of the mailman. He showed up happy and energetic as usual, a heavy load of letters in his hands.

– “Is there any letter for the old woman who waits for you every day?” asked the neighbor.

– “No,” he replied, “I have no letter today either. And the old woman, what happened that she did not wait for me today?” He added with concern.

– “She is ill, very ill; restless. She needs something to alleviate her pains and you are the only one who can help.”

– “Me?  How?”

– “Mr. Mailman, please give her this letter we wrote for her. Please give her this Christmas card.”

Note: Between the nineteen forties and the nineteen seventies, Pedro Pablo Montesino, who my readers must have guessed by now was my father, wrote prolifically for various media organizations in Cuba and later in Florida. This fictional piece appeared in the Hialeah Sun, Hialeah, Florida, in October of 1969. He intended it as a homage to the mothers who suffered, and still suffer, the Cuban political tragedy that separated them from their sons and daughters.

I choose and edit this article for Christmas every year to recognize its importance not only as a journalistic piece in the field in which my father worked, but also as an example of the strength of the morality of his political philosophy and the impact it had in my career as a writer. A man, who published so skillfully in so many communication channels of the time, would be proud and impressed to see his thoughts come to life as they travel through the information superhighway of the Internet. He died in November of 1995. I am sure that, whether waiting for it or not, he now received this letter. Writers don’t die until their last articles are forgotten.

Have a happy holiday season and don’t neglect to send your letter! Better, call your loving mother if she still lives or send her the message of a prayer if she doesn’t.

Paul V. Montesino, PhD, MBA, ICCP


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