Everyone remember when I mentioned that I have a pen pal from the 4th grade? No? Well, I do. Her name is Maxine. George's middle name, Maxwell, is for her. She was in her 30's when she came to speak to my class about living in Alaska. She was visiting friends who happened to have a son in my class, and she agreed to speak to my elementary school's entire 4th grade class, just because she's that kind of person. We all had to write her a thank you note and she offered to write to anyone if they kept writing her. Well, I kept writing for over 20 years now. She doesn't do email. I don't have her phone number. I'm not sure I would even know how to get to her house if I had to. I've met her twice. Once in 4th grade, which doesn't really count and once in 1998 when we lived briefly in Louisiana for Chuck's job and she was visiting her husband's family who lives in Louisiana.
She's beyond special. She always sent me neat articles and books about Alaska. Every year she sends us a package of Christmas goodies. She collects teddy bears. She has no children. She is an artist. She has sent us two framed pieces of her own art. She makes miniature quilts (usually about 12" x 12" with approximately 250 pieces hand sewn together. I'll have to find a picture to show you all sometime. She's simply amazing. And everyone in my house when I was growing up knew about her and read her letters. She was there for me when my father died. She sent Chuck and I a very special gift when we were married. And she never forgets a birthday - even Chuck's and the kids'.
I, on the other hand, suck at writing letters. It could be months between letters. Sometimes just two or three a year letting her know what's going on with us. I have a package sitting under my desk addressed to her that has been sitting there for almost two years. I'm terrible about getting things in the mail. Just terrible. But she is perfect in every way.
So, when Luke was sent home with Flat Stanley, I knew exactly where we should send him. Luke and I addressed a letter to Maxine and sent Flat Stanley to a person who would definitely take care of him.
This is what came back yesterday.
Luke colored Flat Stanley before he left. Maxine said that she had to make him a coat because it was so cold in Alaska. He came back wearing this.
The box was HEAVY. And no wonder. It had all of this in it.
Maps, books, a bookmark, several stuffed animals, one stuffed bear for each of the kids, pamphlets about Alaska, books on the Northern Lights, books about wild flowers, bears, the Iditarod, Native Americans, fishing, oil, Mount McKinley, Mount Redoubt (which erupted and "ashed" her home), and much more. She gathered 100 postcards, including one with a picture that she took herself of moose in her backyard, and put them in an album. She trimmed each one so it would be easy to pull out and read about the pictures on the front. She circled places on her map that Stanley went. She sent another map of the peninsula she lives on. She drew pictures of the different kinds of animal tracks Flat Stanley saw in the snow while he was there. And to tell Luke about everything, she "helped" Flat Stanley keep a journal of his trip to Alaska (100 pages long).
She did everything and it was beyond AMAZING. She is so very special.