This beautiful short film, Junk Mail, paints a beautiful and heartbreaking look at what it really means to experience loneliness.
The documentary film opens with the sound of paper ripping. Then we see Mary, a 98-year-old, sitting on her sofa in a dimly lit room tearing strips of paper repetitively– as if this simple task is a vitally important thing she must do. She is very still and focused and very much alone.
Then we follow Mary to a senior center where she performs music and dances. Here, she is more animated. She is joined by others, and she obviously feeds off their energy.
But then Mary returns to her home. It is now that we realize the real and heartbreaking reason Mary is tearing the paper. She is shredding her junk mail, but when you learn why, it will break your heart.
You see, Mary is so lonely she can hardly bear it.
When Mary receives a visitor, she becomes overcome with emotion. She tears up with gratitude at the simple pleasure of receiving human contact. “I love you all for coming.” Mary earnestly says, “It’s made my day.” The visitors didn’t do anything but stop by and spend time with Mary. They showed up and were present. “I’ll never forget it,” Mary continued. “God is good to me. Who [else] is 98 years old and still walking on their feet? I am!”
When the director of the senior center was asked why her work with the elderly is important, she replied, “Because they’re still alive.” She added, “They’re no different than they were when they were younger.”
Mary returns to the center again, and we see her become sad when she has to return to her home alone again.
This award-winning film by Voyager is a powerful look at what it means to grow old alone, and what a huge difference a simple visit can make in the life of an elderly person!