Hey, You Got Mail!

Logo Credits to Lee Rui Lin!

Story For A Story.

about the initiative.

At Hey, You Got Mail!, we don’t just make cards. We want to spread good vibes, and inspire. Presenting to you, Story for A Story. A new initiative by Hey You Got Mail! together with local bookstore, BooksActually.

 

Everyone has a story. And stories are powerful things. They invoke feelings and thoughts in us, empowering us to take action for things we believe in. That’s why we want to hear from you.

Big or small, your story is special. And we would love to hear from you – your treasured memories with seniors in your community, from your grandpa to the friendly neighborhood aunty.

Best of all, we’ve partnered with @booksactually. to give away 20 signed copies of “What Gives Us Our Names” by local author, Alvin Pang, whilst stocks last.

Send in your stories – warm fuzzy feelings included – at the link below. We look forward to inspire and be inspired by you.

ps: Looking for some ideas? Scroll down for some sample stories from our core team!

Note: Story for A Story is open internationally, you will stand a chance to win a signed copy of the book as long as you submit an entry.

featured stories.

Kenny

from BooksActually!

my treasured memory

My grandfather was estranged from his son, my dad but in my growing up years, my grandfather maybe due to his old age, made a decision to mend the fences with his son before it was too late. But he was also a very proud Chinese traditional man, born in the 1930s. Naturally, I became a convenient "excuse" in a good way for him wanting to visit his grandson every week at our 2-room HDB apartment but it was also an opportunity for him to visit his son. We lived at the end of the long stretch of the HDB block, and my grandfather can never remember which unit we stayed in. So he did the next best thing. From the start of the common corridor stretch, he'd call out my name until he reached the audible distance of our unit, and either myself or my dad / mom would pop out to get him. Knowing he made this weekly effort to reconcile with his son, it has taught me that humanity is a lesson in progress.

Dr. Alvin Pang

my treasured memory

A few years ago, I found myself sitting alone at a table by the window in a bookstore in the small seaside town of Albany, Western Australia. An elderly lady who was browsing the shelves came up to me to ask what I was doing there. I said I was writing poems on request for anyone who asked. At once, she said to me: "I want you to write a poem telling young people what it is like to be old". She said she used to have fun: to sing and dance, and drive up and down the coast for the sheer joy of it. Now she tends to her garden, alone, and passersby who walk look past her, never thinking that she too was once young and beautiful and had wild dreams. Then the lady, whose name was Celia, smiled wistfully and left the bookstore. I wrote the prose poem "Forbearance" to answer her request, and left a print copy of it with the cashier for her to pick up on her next visit.  Not long after, the bookstore closed down, and I never found out if Celia ever received her poem. 
 
This is not the first time I've chanced on a moving and memorable connection with a senior while I was doing something else. When my grandmother was admitted as a patient at Dover Park Hospice, I happened by coincidence to have been assigned there on a working attachment. This meant that I could visit her frequently, during my breaks and after office hours. I remember her telling everyone within earshot that I was her grandson and that I visited her every day. She passed away proud and delighted to have been afforded such attention in her peaceful final days. And I experienced for myself the good work done by the palliative care sector to give our seniors comfort and dignity in the closing chapters of their lives.


Forbearance enjoys tending a fresh crop of hyacinths, irises, black‐eyed susans, bluebells and kitchen
herbs. She has read somewhere that to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow, and loves watching
them drink in the warm summer mornings through her back window, as they come into their fullness.
She remembers what it was like to be strong, to feel the glorious wind billow out her brave, blond hair
asshe dashes up the impertinent coast. She hasfound herself equal to the urgentsummons of a man’s
arms, the needful press of a child’s, the sway and dip of dancing. She is no stranger to the sudden bitter
quarrel, nor the slow,sweet making up after. She has mourned family, seen children grow up and leave
home, taken on new names. Forbearance is a veteran of fickle weather and has mastered the
diplomacy of storms. Few things surprise now; fewer still faze. She has learnt to take her time, and to
let some things be.

 

Mostly she wishes the carelessly young could know what it is like to grow old. How they love to
shoulder past or stare! The streets tilt steeper every time she steps out of the house, and she must go
gentler on that one foot ever since the accident. There was a time when, waking before the birds, she
would hop up the nearby hill in the dark to watch the sun come up. She has always had a knack for
keeping still and listening quietly. Some days she wishes those sheltering, immortal gums she used to
sit under can tell her what she is waiting for.

 

Every week Forbearance and her neighbours, Compassion and Grace, sing in a choir to cheer the
forgetful and forgotten. They keep each other company, and awake. In their presence, her house loses
a little of its hollow music, shakes off shadows. She brings in fresh cut flowers from her garden,
arranges them in a vase she has kept and loved for years. Sharing another of the many tales only
Forbearance could have earned, her eyes gleam with an ageless light, as she sets aside her tiredness
and remembers Hope.

jiwon

my treasured memory

University can be be tough, with submission deadlines, tutorials, lectures all while trying to spend time with your friends too. It was another one of those tiring, exhausting days when I met Uncle Philip. My mind was full of how I was going to squeeze in many tasks in the small hours that i had, walking into KFC and sighing because i knew i would be cutting sleep again.

Uncle Phillip, possibly in his 60s, works at the NTU KFC but he’s not like any other employee or staff. He passed me a post-it note telling me “Don’t sorry, be happy, and smile!” with such a warm greeting that I could not help but smile. It amazed me because I could tell in his expression that there was a genuine care and concern for us, and my heart warmed a little. My workload did not change but the day felt a little brighter, as if that small note contained Uncle Phillip’s love. I could not appreciate him any more.

Joanne

my treasured memory

As a child, I would often spend my days wrecking havoc in my grandparents' home. A treasured memory I have from those times actually surfaced during a mundane day as my grandfather and I watched the morning news. I remember launching myself unapologetically at him, exclaiming a loud "大树要倒了!(The big tree is going to fall)" as my only warning.

Somehow, the younger me was convinced that jumping on unsuspecting people was great fun and that my grandfather was a wonderful personification of a great old tree (hence the exclamation).

Despite the randomness of that, my grandfather took it all in stride and indulged in my imagination. He had mock staggered before pretending to collapse, conceding that the big tree has indeed fallen before enveloping me in a hug. I remember feeling really happy and cared for back then.

This is undoubtedly one of my most treasured memories with my grandfather. It has never failed to bring a smile onto my face and will always leave a tendril of warmth behind.

jaslyn

my treasured memory

I once did a Community Involvement Project with my junior college class at Ren Ci @ AMK. It was the Chinese New Year festive season and we were going to colour and make paper origami with the seniors there. I was slightly nervous since I don’t usually interact much with seniors. My grandparents stay in Malaysia so I hardly interact with them and if so, only once every year during CNY.

I was paired with an aunty who was hard of hearing. That was the first challenge. When it came down to doing the arts and craft activity together, the 2nd challenge we faced was the language barrier. I, unfortunately, cannot speak dialect... But throughout the whole activity, we attempted to communicate with each other through drawing and colouring as well as trying to understand bits and pieces of whatever we were trying to say to each other. I got to know more about her and she shared with me her story. It was very light hearted and we had fun telling each other stuff and doing the activities together. Although communication was difficult, we managed to get to know each other more and I felt very happy at the end of the session knowing I made a friend.

weilin

my treasured memory

My treasured memory of a senior is the old man who lives in my block. Often, I see him sitting alone at the void deck with his walking stick, watching the cars go by. Although he has a family that he hangs out with at night, he seems to enjoy getting the fresh air and people watching. While I don't know his name, I do appreciate that he nods at me when I'm rushing to school, coming back from buying my lunch at the hawker centre. Sometimes we hold the lift for each other, and ask each other about our days during the short ride. It’s a small gesture, but makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside knowing that we look out for one another!

triston

my treasured memory

Growing up, my grandma would always bring me back from preschool everyday. She would be there at 4:30pm without fail, helping me to carry my AppleTree bag, rushing me home knowing I would complain when I miss my daily episode of Hi-5 that aired at 5pm. (It was one of my childhood favorites)

I remember me telling her one day while waiting for the lift on the way back home, "Po Po, the lift at 11th floor must wait long long to come down, we take the stairs okay" before dashing off on my glorious stair climbing journey. I guess the young me didn't register the fact that I stayed on the 9th floor and that my grandma probably didn't have the energy to scale that far up. But I guess she was worried that at some point, I would trip and fall. She forced herself to keep up with me, holding her hand out to catch me in case I fell while shouting desperately "triston lift here already, lift here already!" , but there was no stopping me. Thats how she ended up climbing all the way to the 9th floor with me.

advait

my treasured memory

One memory I really treasure of a senior in my life is of my grandma.

I recall running around the house a lot as a kid, and her keeping up with my shenanigans no matter the time of the day. She would play badminton with me when no one would, pretend not to see me in my hiding spot, only to act all surprised when I sprung out, and tucked me in with a bedtime story.

Only now can I appreciate the fact that it must have been extremely taxing for her as a senior to keep up with my non-stop activity as a youngling full of energy, yet she followed me everywhere I went.

While I don't see her as often anymore, I am eternally grateful for the times she kept me company and filled my days with fun and joy 🙂