A Sunday Morning Read – Dear Patch, by Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour
This story is dedicated to a special friend who has been in my family’s life for a long time. At the moment, he is very ill – hopefully, modern medicine will be able to keep him here with us for a few more years…
© Mary M. Cushnie-Mansour
Winter in North Hampton hadn’t changed much over the 90 years Winifred had lived there: it was still cold and damp, tormented by dreary, drizzling rain that seemed to go on forever. Winifred wandered around her tiny, ground level flat. It had been twelve years since her husband Joseph had left, and her children didn’t seem to have much time for her anymore.
Winifred sat down at her kitchen table and ran her fingers up and down the old cribbage board. She loved playing crib, but there wasn’t anyone around to give her a good game. Well, Patch, her oldest son could, but he lived in Canada, and only came around once a year for two or three weeks. But when he did, they sure had some good games!
Winifred glanced at the calendar. It seemed like forever since he’d been over for a visit, yet it had only been three months. “Time sure flies when yer an old bird,” she mumbled, “but, come to think of it, Patch, I ain’t heard from yu fer a while.” She pushed the cribbage board aside and reached for the phone. She kept most everything, of any importance, on the table so she could remember where it was.
She flipped through her phone book, looking for Patch’s number. “Well, son, ifn’ yu won’t call me, I’ll call you!” She dialed, let it ring ten times, and then slammed the receiver down. “He’s never home––out havin’ fun probably while I’m over here wastin’ away, full ‘o pain, sufferin’ to no end…”
Over the next couple days, Winifred tried several times to reach Patch. She knew her family here in England was busy, and they’d get around to her eventually, but it was Patch she was missing––especially their crib games! Finally, frustrated with her lack of success, Winifred decided to send him a letter. “Yu may not be answerin’ yer phone, but I’m sure yu’ll open yer mail and I knows yu kin read cause I sent yu to school, and I have a lot to say to yu…” Winifred began to write:
After trying to unsuccessfully reach you by phone, I have decided the old way of writing, hoping to get thru to you, just to find out how thins are with you, how’s that knee of yers progressing, I do hope having it seen to has made a good difference to it. I am in pain with my right foot, my toes burn like hell, keep me awake thru the nite, pain killers aren’t touching it, it’s just about driving me nuts, another thing to put up with in my (Golden Years) Joke!! I feel down in the dumps these days, and not hearing from you, is making me feel worse––I look forward to hearing your voice at times, also miss seeing you, no-one gives me a good game of crib like you do, I play a game of Scrabble with Linda, but it’s only once a month, and no-one plays cribbage at all. I feel isolated and cut off from the world these days, I tried to get Tony’s son Mark to have a game of scrabble with me, we played one game (I won) but he is very busy now he has got a new job––most of his work he has to do at home, or traveling to different places, so that cuts me out. I very rarely see Steve; he’s too busy playing at cops and robbers, and doing his regular job, only gets in touch with me when Linda tics him off for not seeing me. I feel isolated from family life these days, its “Bloody Lonely;” if I were younger you wouldn’t see my ass for dust, I would have been over to see you, but life plays a dirty trick on me these days, I ain’t the woman I used to be, mores the pity. If you can, Patch, please ring me––let it ring a long time ‘cause I am slow getting to the phone from my chair, also my hearing is poor these days––Poor ole sod eh!
Love ya Patch xxxx
On the back of the envelope, Winifred stuck a best wishes sticker. By the pink flower, she wrote, To Patch, from mum xxxxxxxx. Beside it was another sticker, with her address and a picture of a kitten. Under that she wrote the word, “sender.”
Winifred decided to call the Complex Warden to post the letter. “I don’t ask much of ‘im,” she declared, “bout time I started gettin’ somethin’ fer me pense!”
Patch opened the letter from England. As he read it, tears ran down his leathery cheeks. He picked up the phone…
“Patch!––yu ol’ sod––it’s about time yu give yer ol’ mom a call!”
Patch cleared his throat, “How yu doin’ mom?”
“Didn’t yu read my letter?” she yelled, and then they both started to laugh.