Disability: Gates’s “The Mail Lady”

For the story “The Mail Lady,” author David Gates created what he perceives to be a Christian character, and the elderly Lew comes very close to being just that. Lew is enduring the effects of a terrible stroke, his wife Alice a busy caregiver by his side. Yes, a man of faith he is, but one who is now forced to aver, “If I am of use at all anymore, it can only be as an example of patient endurance.”

This trenchant tale raises the subject of what it means when a death-in-life prevails in a Christian’s, or any religious person’s, existence. By and by Lew wishes to escape this death-in-life. A certain rescue from literal death takes place in the story, but Lew simply wants spiritual not physical salvation. . . Gates’s psychological realism is absorbing. Included in the book The Wonders of the Invisible World (1999), “The Mail Lady” is probably one of the most remarkable pieces about severe disability that one could read. Too, not a religious story, it is a dark one.

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