This wasn’t Adam’s first-time opening Mr. Groff’s letter. At first, it had felt funny to open someone else’s mail, but the old man had requested with such a puppy face that Adam couldn’t refuse. Old man Groff often forgot his reading glasses at unexpected places. He also, always wanted to know what was in the letters urgently. As soon as Adam climbed up the porch stairs to deliver the letters, Mr. Groff asked, “Whom is it from?”. He seemed a little disappointed when he heard, it was from someone called Ron. This was a usual question form the old man, “Can you read the letter to me my boy?”
Adam opened the letter from Ron.
Dear Uncle Groff, it said. Hope you are doing well. I am getting married next Month and would like to invite you to the wedding ceremony. We plan to have a reception in the…
“You can stop!”, said the old man. Adam could see he was not interested. He had been waiting for a different letter.
“Would you like to write a reply Sir?”, Adam politely asked.
Mr. Groff just shook his head and said, “It’s OK. He won’t miss me.”. Adam could see, he didn’t like Ron much.
“Could you help me write another letter instead?”, asked the Old Man. “My Son Larry lives in California, and I needed to send him a note.” he said. “I forgot my reading glasses at the doctor’s office this time.”, he added with a sheepish smile.
Adam picked a paper from the old man’s box and prepared to write. He never minded writing letters for Mr. Groff. The old man composed himself and began the dictation.
Hope you are doing well. I am in good health. The doctor says I am still a young man. The only problem these days is that I keep forgetting my spectacles wherever I go, and then I have to make Adam here, read and write my letters.
It will be your thirty second birthday by the time this letter reaches you. I wish you a very happy birthday. Hope to hear back from you soon.
Adam knew this was not the first letter the old chap was sending Larry. He had written to Larry often over the last year. Adam offered to post the letter on getting back to the post-office and left. He couldn’t help but wonder about Mr. Groff’s son. Why hadn’t Larry written back to the previous letters? Had he forgotten his
Dad? Well, nevertheless he would make sure to send the letter to the address noted by Mr. Groff.
Days passed by, and there was no response from Larry. Adam always smiled and waved at Mr. Groff as he walked by the house, to deliver the other letters in his neighborhood. He even stopped by to see if the old man needed something that he could help with. Once in a while he would pick up letters form Mr. Groff to post. They were almost always addressed to Larry, who was yet to reply. Sometimes, Adam visited Mr. Groff to have tea together and they played a little chess.
Today was a particularly busy day for Adam. He had to sort through many letters, before he could make a delivery trip. He began going through the big pile allocated to his station. Half way through, he saw a letter addressed to Mr. Groff. As he picked up the envelope, he recognized his own handwriting on the back. The letter addressed to Larry had been returned to the sender.
Surprised, Adam stared at the letter. Had the old man been writing to a wrong address all along? Today for the first time, his curiosity took over him. He decided to find out from the postal database if the address was indeed correct. He asked his friend to lookup if the address was registered in the Postal database to a Larry Groff. The reply came soon. The address was not registered to Larry. The person who lived there had setup a mail forwarding request that had expired, and so this letter had returned. Now everything made sense. Either Larry had moved to a new address and had indeed forgotten about his Dad; or Larry only lived in Mr. Groff's imagination.
Adam did not have the heart to tell the old man of this occurrence. He had to do something to make things seem better.
The next evening, Adam showed up at Mr. Groff’s door step. “I have a letter for you!” he said with a smile, as he handed over the letter from Larry.
Mr. Groff’s eyes widened in disbelief, as he saw the name on the envelope. He looked at the letter and then at Adam. Finally, with shaking hands he tore open the envelope. His eyes watered a little as he read the letter, he had been waiting for.
I am great. I am sure you must be well.
I was travelling a lot, and so took me longer to reply to your letters.
I am also enclosing with this letter, a string that can help you keep your spectacles safe and around your neck. Hopefully you will lose it fewer times than before.
After a long time, Adam saw the old man smile. Still looking at the letter, he picked up the string and removed his glasses to put the string on the ear pieces. “May I leave Sir?”, Adam asked, as Mr. Groff looked up from his letter. There was no response. The man just sat in his chair and stared at him. Had he recognized, that this wasn’t Larry’s handwriting?
After a minute of silence, not knowing what to do next, Adam slowly stepped back and turned to leave. As he started walking towards the gate, there was a movement on the porch. “Would you like to stay over for dinner tonight, Son?”, said the old shaky voice.
Adam smiled, as he heard himself being called a Son, for the very first time. How could he say no, to an invitation from this Dad!