Gillan Robb lives in Austin’s Highland neighborhood, and she’s very close with her grandfather who lives in South Carolina.
“My grandparents pretty much raised me off and on,” she told Texas Standard. “I’m their only grandchild. And my beautiful grandfather who has been just a rock, he fell and it turned out that it was a stroke and I can’t get to him right now, which has been difficult.”
So she wrote him a letter instead.
“Just one letter that told him in clear, plain speech what he meant to me,” Robb said. “What it meant when he rescued me when I was 16 in the middle of the night in his car. What it meant when he let me move in with them when I was 17.”
She wrote it all down, stamped it and placed it in her mailbox.
David Shelton moved to the Highland neighborhood in late 2019. During one of his walks, something caught his eye.
“I saw what looked like a like a birthday card or a thank-you note – something that looked a little more important than just junk mail, thrown on the ground,” he said.
It was Robb’s letter to her grandfather; it hadn’t been mailed and was torn open and discarded.
“So I just looked for the address. I didn’t want to put it back in the mailbox, of course, so I put it on the porch and wrote a little note on it,” he said.
Robb hadn’t realized the letter was undelivered. But Shelton’s good deed gave her another chance to write the letter and connect with her grandfather.
“Somebody had written, ‘I found this about a block away,’ with a little frownie face on it,” she said. “Some human being that lives in my neighborhood found this letter and walked it down to me and wrote a note on the front of it and got it back to me.”
During a time when many people are feeling afraid and isolated because of the coronavirus pandemic, Shelton’s gesture was a reminder to Robb that it can also be a time for people to be there for each other – even people we don’t know.
“Running around the neighborhoods and walking around the neighborhoods, people are waving out of their car windows at you. There’s a kind of emotional availability amongst neighbors that we haven’t noticed before this,” Robb said. ” But I think anything hard presents an opportunity for something good to come out of it.”
Web story by Kristen Cabrera.
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