The other side

by mssinglemama on September 3, 2009

I spotted my first fallen leaves in the grass of the baseball diamond near my post office last Thursday.


The bag over my shoulder was bursting with little brown packages. Each containing a silver or bronze new leaf necklace destined for one of you. I make this walk to the post office, with Murphy in tow and sometimes Mr. Benjamin, at least a few times a week. And still, two months after quitting the day job, these post office trips are my favorite part about my new job.

The walk itself is the last step before the necklaces will be around your necks. I’ve sent packages all over the world now. One even went to Saskatchewan. Another to Argentina and yet another to Great Britain. On these walks it all comes full circle. I feel like a bearer of hope, sending little packages of it one by one to each of you who so generously chose to support my little blogging career by buying one.

When I saw the leaves I stopped for a second to digest the sight of them. August, I thought, it’s still August but I guess Fall is almost here now. I gave Murphy a little whistle and we kept walking. Now about thirty feet from the busy street I had to cross to reach the post office and with the building before me, I started thinking about her.

The first time she processed a pile of my packages, stamping them all and tucking them away under her counter she asked me what was inside.

“Necklaces,” I answered.

“Well, you’re not allowed to send jewelry to Canada,” her words were cold as her hands rested on one of my brown envelopes destined for a single mom in Ontario.

“Why is that?”

“I don’t know why,” she said. Still as cold as ice.

“What happens if I send it and they catch it? Do they just send it back?”

“Yes.” She looked annoyed now and ran her hands through her silver gray hair. It was long, falling past her shoulders. I decided she either hated me, hated being here, hated life or hated her job and then I made another decision – to send the necklaces anyway. It sounded like a stupid law anyway.

“I’ll take my chances.” We proceeded as if she didn’t know anything about the contents of my little envelopes. I paid and I left.

The next time I went in with some packages for Canada I saw her behind the counter and I cringed. Damn it. She asked me again about what was inside and I answered truthfully. She shook her head disapprovingly and we ran through the drill. I paid and I left. Even when I brought Benjamin she was still cold. One time another postal worker tipped me off, telling me to call them accessories.

The last time I had seen her, before I saw the leaves, maybe a few days beforehand she spied my brown envelopes marked with the “CAN” and said, “and what’s in them?”

“Accessories,” I answered.

“And we’ve been over the accessory thing before, right?” She asked.

“Yes,” I said politely.

I looked behind my shoulder to take a quick look at Murphy who was tied up outside and obediently waiting for me.

“What kind of dog is he?” She asked. For the first time ever I noticed a sparkle in her eyes.

“A Wheaton Terrier.”

“Oh, how cute!” She was completely lit up now and then slipped me a stack of little green customs forms. “Here just fill these customs forms out about the accessories and next time bring him in so he can have some treats.”

“You have treats?”

“Yes, we always have some back here.” She tapped her counter and was still starring through the window, unable, it seemed to take her eyes off of my dog. I paid, thanked her and then left.

I remember calling John Bear to tell him that “the mean postal lady finally smiled. It was a minor miracle.”

In spite of her wishes for me to bring Murphy in I left him tied up outside. He jumps and I saw a bit of a line in the post office, shoulders neatly stacked in a long row of bodies, hands clutching packages and envelopes. When I took my place behind them I noticed she wasn’t there. And then I piece of paper taped to the edge of her counter, the type blown up by a copy machine. It wasn’t until a few moments before I went up to meet the man standing in her place that I realized the paper was an obituary.

“Is this for the woman with the long gray hair, she used to be right here?” I asked the obvious question, the words trailing out of my mouth when I saw the man’s eyes were clearly stressed. He nodded his head as I quickly scanned the obituary.

53…Suddenly at her home.

“A heart attack?” I asked him. And she was only 53? She had looked much older.

“Yeah, a heart attack, it’s been rough.”

“I’m so sorry.” But I was mostly sorry I hadn’t made her smile sooner, I should have given her a necklace.

On the day she died Benjamin and I were on Fiesta Movement Mission 4.

Every agent picked a charity, I chose to volunteer at a senior center because I knew, without a doubt, Benjamin would brighten their days just by being there. And he did. Check the video out.

We only spent a few hours with the seniors but in that time I learned that each and every one of them, many over 80 and even some over 90, were happy – optimistic, relaxed and enjoying their moments.

I’m not saying every grumpy person out there is going to die of a heart attack but maybe making some time to just be happy, maybe trading a few material things (like that fancy car or purse) and choosing to work less hours would actually lengthen your life. There’s nothing wrong with spending a lot less because you’ll start living a lot better.

It’s not something you can do tomorrow, I understand that – it took me two years to get to the point where I could work from home – but it can happen. Maybe someday I’ll be able to tell you how to do it … need more of that thing called time, keeps slipping away, through my fingers almost. One thing I can tell you… only buy what you need. Save every penny and don’t live beyond your means.

For inspiration on how to make some extra money at home and in how you can channel your creativity browse, most of the items for sale here are made by work at home moms. And also visit where moms are saving big money by trading stuff they don’t need or use anymore. Mommy Pie started that site a few months back when she got laid off from her job.

Big things, mamas. Big things. Dream big, okay? And for God’s sake – smile, would ya? Oh and don’t die on me. I don’t like that when people just disappear. Freaks me out.

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November 6, 2009 at 4:26 am

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Woody September 3, 2009 at 10:10 am

Wow. Interesting how things work in life. You broke through to her before she left us.


Spruce Hill September 3, 2009 at 10:17 am

Aww it is a sad story! but you did make her smile 🙂
I think it is great that you are doing what you love! I just opened an Etsy shop myself. All the jewelry I make by hand. I love Etsy!


Jessica September 3, 2009 at 10:25 am

Sorry to hear about the postal lady!

Here’s hoping that everyone can find out what brings them joy, and then puts that front and center in their lives, in spite of the risks that following one’s bliss entails.

Ms. Postal Worker probably liked the job security of the post office, but would have been a happier vet/dog walker/SPCA employee. RIP.


jen_k_ September 3, 2009 at 11:02 am

*sigh* Life goes fast, doesn’t it?



Glenda September 3, 2009 at 11:03 am

Sorry to hear about the postal lady! Funny how Murphy made her smile. RIP! Life is short! I love these quotes: “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day”~Author Unknown~
“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~Robert Brault~


Tishia Lee September 3, 2009 at 11:22 am

Awww what a sweet sweet video. It really hit home because my grandma was just placed in a senior nursing home (a week ago Monday) and I know how much just a few short hours of our time can mean the world to those seniors. I still can’t shake the memory of all those senior citizens watching my son & I, smiling at us, saying hi, waving to us (just begging for attention) as we made our way across the dining room to my grandma.

As for the postal lady – that is so sad & it just goes to show how short life really is. Tomorrow isn’t a given and we need to embrace each and every day like it’s our last. So many people in your shoes would have been rude or mean to her and her ‘coldness’ but you didn’t let it get to you and instead you broke through to her and put a smile on her face!


Bobbi Janay September 3, 2009 at 11:57 am

Love the music you used. The lady at the end is so right about truth.


Phoenix September 3, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Thanks for sharing about the Postal Layd – life can turn on a dime! May she rest in peace & happiness. Like Warren Zevon said “Enjoy every sandwich.”
As an seller, thanks for the shoutout. Thanks for the video – what a cracker that last gal must be!!
And aren’t Wheatons’ the happiest dogs – you’re hooked girl, you called him ‘my’ dog! I have one also and he just makes me so happy! I get the biggest giggle when we’re out and about in the car, stop at a light and he hangs his fuzzy grinning face out of the window and smiles at everyone. They almost always laugh and smile back – its great. Life is good.


arscuore September 3, 2009 at 2:00 pm

lovely post ; )


Restless Mama September 3, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I almost cried – so glad that Murphy was able to make the Postal Lady smile before she passed.

We’re dreaming big!!!


SueB, Ont. Canada September 3, 2009 at 3:33 pm

I placed an order for one of your necklaces in the first few days that they were available for sale. I remember you mentioning after I had already received it that you weren’t supposed to mail them to Canada but I’m so glad you did. Wonderful story and i’m happy that Murphy was able to make her smile before she passed. May she R.I.P.


Amy September 3, 2009 at 4:15 pm

You just made my day 🙂


bad mummy September 3, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Sask-atch-e-wan. No doubt spell check didn’t pick that one up.

I was in my 20s before I learned how to spell it (while working at an office job on a d@mn typewriter.


Ms. Single Mama September 3, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Oh my God. I butchered it! Will fix now. Thanks Bad Mummy.


Rachel September 3, 2009 at 7:50 pm

What an adorable video. I really should take Lil out to a senior center – she’s the perfect age to enjoy it.


April September 4, 2009 at 6:31 am

Wow, and to think you had a package for me in your bag! I got my silver necklace a couple days ago, it was so exciting to open my box and see my puffy stuffed envelope inside. I knew exactly what it was. The video was great.
Keep it up Alaina! You’ll have to give us an update on what you’ve got coming up.


Katherine (SOLO dot MOM) September 4, 2009 at 7:38 am

This is another I would rank as part of your best posts ever. We need to be reminded daily … to try to find someone in our world.. and make them smile. I love this story… and very encouraging to those of us who want to perhaps do the same with our days.

Mr. M. and I are considering starting an site with Mr. M’s jewelry. We want to start with some daisies to reference my blog… we shall see… all a part of that dreaming we do. 🙂

Thanks again for this post.


Allison September 8, 2009 at 8:37 am

Awesome post!! I had to reach up & rub my leaf necklace as I was reading this. 🙂


Sue Henderson September 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

If you are looking for more inspiration in the name of fashion, check out my web site at I would be happy to do a custom charm necklace or bracelet for you for free…us singla mamas have to sick together. Email me.



Sarcastica September 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm

You are an amazing mom, you know that right? Taking your son to a seniors home to make people smile, holy crap. Kudos!


Santosh February 4, 2015 at 3:16 am

Unieblevable how well-written and informative this was.


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