It took nearly three decades for Ken Rodin to get the tallest order of his postal career.
And it came from his smallest customer: 4-year-old Maci Hopkins.
The Bristol, CT, carrier technician recalls the little girl’s words one day recently when she ran outside to meet him:
“Mr. Mailman, I have to give you a letter!”
As he took it and saw that it was a drawing of a dog, he noticed that Maci’s beloved canine companion, Kendal — always by her side — was nowhere to be seen.
“Can you bring this letter to heaven?”
Rodin realized instantly this wasn’t child’s play, and he knew how he must respond:
“Sure, Maci. I’ll take a letter to heaven for you.”
That might have been enough to comfort the grieving girl, whose pet had died at 13, but as the day went on, Rodin felt compelled to do more.
“Kendal was the nicest dog,” Rodin said. “She was always very sweet to Maci. I knew they were best friends.”
Rodin thought of his own childhood: “If something happened, if you got in trouble, the dog was always right next to you, licking you, trying to make you happy. That’s what hit me afterward.”
He vowed then that not only would Maci believe her letter got to Kendal in heaven, she would receive a reply.
Rodin, who services the route once a week, soon printed one page with a simple message: “Thank you so much for my picture!! Love you!” — signed with the shape of a heart and a paw.
The next day, he gave the letter to the Hopkins family’s regular carrier. The following week, he was greeted by a much happier Maci.
“She was jumping up and down, telling me she’d gotten a letter from Kendal,” Rodin said. “Just to make her day, that made me feel good. I always try to cheer people up.”
Word of Rodin’s kind gesture soon spread far beyond the Hopkins household.
“When we told her she got a letter back, she hugged it,” Maci’s mom told The Dodo. “She told us it says Kendal loves her, misses her and that she will always be in her heart.”
Beaming as she held up the letter, Maci summed it up for NBC Connecticut this way: “It made me feel happy. I love her.”
Rodin’s first and only brush with heavenly correspondence reflects the way he always treats his customers.
“They’re like family,” he said. “You give hugs when someone dies. When kids fall off their bikes, you help them up. With so much bad stuff going on, doing this for Maci helped everyone feel better.”