Cape Breton woman overwhelmed by response to request for mail for her 91-year-old father

Click to play video: 'Campaign spawns mass mail from strangers to NS widower, 91'
Campaign spawns mass mail from strangers to NS widower, 91
WATCH: Campaign spawns mass mail from strangers to NS widower, 91 – Oct 3, 2018

A Cape Breton post office is bracing itself for an onslaught of mail — and they’re love letters of sorts.

It began as a simple Twitter request that, like many others before it, has gone viral and surpassed original expectations.

Miriam Dunn sent a tweet earlier this week, asking people to send mail to her recently widowed and mail-loving father, 91-year-old Gerard Dunn.

LISTEN: Miriam Dunn speaks with CJOB 

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For more than six decades, Gerard and his wife Ellen spent their lives together in Sydney, N.S. She was a beloved educator and he a Canada Post employee and well-known musician.

“They were still like they were courting,” Miriam said of her parents’ later years together.

“They were still so expressive and openly loving and respectful and cherished each other.”

Six months ago, Ellen passed away at the age of 82. Since then, Miriam says the adjustment has been tough on her father.

“Very hard adjustment but he says, ‘Mom would want me to be strong and mom would want me to keep going, so that’s what I’m going to do,'” she said.

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To help cheer her father up, Miriam decided to put out a call out Monday on Twitter, asking if anyone would send her father some mail in time for his 92nd birthday in October. After all, he’s an enthusiastic mail collector and anticipates the daily delivery — not surprising since he had a career as the postal supervisor for Canada Post in North Sydney.

“Dad really does wait for the mail every day, so the last couple of months, the siblings have been trying to send him a card or a newspaper clipping. Something small just to have something arrive in the mail,” she said.

“I thought maybe I could get a few strangers on the internet to send him something that would really please him. I anticipated five or 10 people would say, ‘I will do that,’ but I certainly did not anticipate this.”

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What followed was a flood of replies and promises to send everything from cards to artwork to gifts of food.

“I joke I quit my job to look after this,” said Miriam with a laugh. “Every half hour, I get 300 notifications [on Twitter].”

As of Wednesday morning, her original tweet has been re-tweeted more than 19,000 times and liked by nearly 40,000 people.

Teachers have sent photos of their classrooms in the midst of letter-writing campaigns, people have sent photos of cards they’ve slipped into the mail, and a music class has begun corresponding with Gerard to ask him questions.

“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. Most of the people who are sharing this are saying how this has uplifted them,” Miriam said.

“There is a lot of anger, a lot of hate, a lot of meanness [on social media] and I think this was an opportunity for something good.”

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The first piece of mail arrived Wednesday morning, and the Dunns are anticipating a deluge. So much so, Miriam has already approached the local Canada Post outlet to give it a heads up. She says the post office didn’t seem fazed by the task ahead.

For his part, Gerard remains shy and says he’ll leave the talking to his daughter. He is, however, touched by the outpouring of support and wants people to know he is still full of energy.

But most importantly, he’s honoured by the response from far and wide.

“My dad sees this as a tribute to mom not to him. He sees this as something that acknowledges her life even though it’s done because of her absence, but he totally feels that this is more about her.”


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