They came from all over the world.
From Ireland and Australia, Tacoma and Puyallup, the Christmas cards flooded in, all addressed to 77-year-old Geraldine Bailey.
“I hope you’re having a wonderful Christmas season with your family,” said one.
“If you ever need me, I’m here for you,” said another.
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Bailey, who lives with her daughter Gwen Williams and son-in-law Chuck Williams in Eatonville, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease a year ago.
In early December, Bailey wasn’t getting that many Christmas cards in the mail — something she looked forward to every year, hanging them up on her wall as a tradition.
“The little things make her feel better, make her smile,” Chuck Williams said.
So her family took to the internet, first asking family friends to send her some cards. Bailey’s grandchildren also shared the request to various Facebook groups.
The cards came flooding in just two days later.
“I just thought some of my friends would send a card,” Gwen Williams said. “I never expected it to go viral like that.”
Gwen received as many as 180 cards in one day. Even the post office staff caught on, asking if the cards had gone international yet.
As of Wednesday, the cards were still trickling in, but Bailey’s Christmas card count was up to 1,018.
“I love it. I’d like to get more,” Bailey said. “I like to hear from people all over the world. They know who you are.”
Bailey likes the cards with animals on them, but ultimately doesn’t have a favorite.
“Just like anybody, I just love to get cards in the mail,” she said. “I love them all.”
The cards were sent from families, businesses and even schools, including Rogers High School, Eatonville High School, Eatonville Middle School, Eatonville Elementary and schools in Aberdeen, Longview, Yelm and Graham.
Most of the cards are from people Bailey doesn’t know. Family photos of complete strangers smile back at her from the walls where they’ve been tacked up, reminding her of the support.
“A lot of them are saying ‘Yeah, my grandma had (Alzheimer’s) and she passed away,’ or ‘My grandpa had it,’ or something like that,” Chuck Williams said. “We’ve heard a few stories like that.”
Bailey’s long term memories — of her childhood growing up in Tacoma, for example — are mostly intact, while her short term memories are suffering the most, making it difficult for her to live on her own.
Most days, Bailey forgets about the cards, but when she sees them she’s excited all over again, enjoying them more than once.
“It’s all brand new to her every day,” Chuck Williams said.
Already, people are asking to send Bailey cards for Valentine’s Day and her birthday in October.
Bailey and her family wants to thank everyone who came together to send her a card.
“It made her Christmas, it did,” Gwen Williams said.