By Joy Paulsen

Who are your Grandladies? At my mother’s memorial service, many years ago, I heard an older neighbor sigh and wonder aloud, “Will I lose contact with the Paulsens? What a dreadful thought!” At that time, I committed to stay in touch with her and with a handful of my mother’s friends. I referred to them as my Grandladies. Not relatives by blood, but women who had woven my mother into their lives. I wrote, I called; I visited when I could.

One by one, my original Grandladies passed of old age. However, I’ve found new Grandladies to populate my world: older women who retired from overseas work, women in my older-ladies’ Sunday school class, the woman from whom I bought my home. They are now staying at home, as we all are. Many won’t see this because they don’t do social media. Even the smiling faces of the workers at their residences are hidden behind masks. They are at risk of loneliness to a much higher degree than the younger among us. They also have to contend with higher risks if they come down with Covid-19.

So now, in the season of the Coronavirus, I’ve taken up my pen and started to write snail-mail letters to my Grandladies.

Here are some of the things I might write about:
• A reminder that I’m thinking of them.
• A question about how they are doing.
• Empathizing about their situation.
• Reminders of shared experiences (remember when…)
• A glimpse of my life (but it’s not all about me)
• A poem about anything beautiful or silly (Auntie Lu once wrote this poem to me: “I eat my peas with honey, done it all my life; makes the peas taste funny but it keeps them on my knife.”)
• A Bible verse or the verse of a song that has been an encouragement lately.

All on a pretty card that slips into an old-fashioned envelope for the postal worker to deliver.

So, I ask you, who are the Grandladies in your life? A neighbor, a friend from church, a former teacher, an older relative? Could you brighten their day with a note?

Joy Paulsen worked for 15 years as a water resources and wastewater management engineer at CDM Smith, including six years as a project manager in Thailand. She then embarked on a second career in education, much of which was served as Director, International Affairs, at the Huamei International Education and Training Center in China. She now lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where she is open to new opportunities.