Tuesday March 18th 2008, 1:45 pm
Filed under: Friends,Life

Standing in the aisle at Costco last night, I called her name. She didn’t hear me. I yelled it–my voice can run faster than I can. She looked up with a start, saw me, ran over, and we threw our arms around each other for old times’ sake.

I’ve never had to meet C professionally. Thank goodness for that; she’s an ICU nurse. But we both have big families and our kids went to school together from kindergarten on up. In a state where the school buses pretty much disappeared with Proposition 13 in the ’70’s, most of the parents who are able to, meet their elementary-school kids at 3:00 and take them home. And those parents become good friends as they wait together for the bell to ring, year after year.

I remember running into Albert one day, which was a little unusual, and asking him where his wife CH was; she was home with pneumonia. I offered to bring over a dinner and make life a little easier for them for the day. Yes of course I think you can cook perfectly well, Albert, but wouldn’t it be nice to have one less thing to have to worry about just now?

He couldn’t get over it, as he happily accepted the offer; he kept asking why would I bother over them like that?

I blamed it on my church, and told him, If you were in my Mormon ward, that’s what I’d be doing, so, hey, what’s the difference? It’s what Mormons know how to do, culturally, to the point that we make a joke of it amongst ourselves sometimes. Bring dinner. How many to change a lightbulb? One to change it, three to bring refreshments.

I went all out on that one, bringing homemade bread and a chocolate cake to make their kids happy. Life is for celebrating, along with the chicken soup for his sick wife. Part of that was a nod to some folks at church who’d taken turns and had brought my family dinner three nights in a row, back when I had had a bad bout of pneumonia myself a few years earlier, each one bringing a gloriously-frosted cake; one of my kids a few weeks later had asked me if I could please get sick again–not really sick!–just enough that someone would bring them a cake like one of those again. Sprinkles on chocolate. Yum.

So I made chocolate cake for CH and Albert’s kids. Dessert comforts kids. Pay it forward.

That closeness in the elementary school days led to a sense of loss as our kids got older; we let go not only of our kids being little, but of our getting to see much of each other in the day-to-day as time went on. At the high school graduation of my youngest and C’s second-youngest, there were of course a bunch of us old Fairmeadow Elementary parents all in one place, and C pronounced, “We need a reunion party!”

And then she threw one. It was great fun. One of the old Fairmeadow teachers came, too. So C threw another party the next year, but Richard and I were on a plane that didn’t arrive home from Baltimore quite early enough that night last October and we missed it.

There at Costco, without a backyard full of guests for her to have to attend to, we had some free moments to talk, C, Richard, and me, and she stood back, took me in a moment, and allowed as how good I looked now and how so many of us–including me–never thought I’d live to see the day. But here I am, still.

Richard said something about how my book was doing well. I’ve got plans for the next two. I told her happily, “I’m not going anywhere!”

She mentioned that that scarf I’d knitted for her and given her at that party a year and a half ago, when she’d put it with a favorite dress of hers, it went so well that it looked like it had been dyed to match. She just loved it.

And you know? That’s it. It’s the tiny little miracles like that, day to day, that come when you try to make use of whatever you’re good at to make others’ lives a bit brighter, that help sustain the life and the love in us. I think every time I’ve seen someone’s face light up like that couple’s faces did on Sunday, it adds a year to my life.

C, it turned out, knows Ann’s parents well, and was blown away by the randomness of their granddaughter having met and now being about to marry our son. Small world. You knew, coming away from that conversation, that she was going to go tell them what a good kid their granddaughter was marrying.

Come to think of it, she might very likely have been one of the nurses attending to Conway, Ann’s father-in-law, after his heart attack. I don’t know that she would specifically remember him now, but he was in her unit, and he would have been in kind and good hands with her taking care of him.

It IS a small world.

Life is SO good.

8 Comments so far
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What a lovely woman – both of you – and a heart-warming story of how small the world really is.

(And Ann and her shawl do look to be a perfect match!)

Comment by Channon 03.18.08 @ 2:58 pm

Always. Bring food. Must be a Mormon and Italian thing. Cause that’s my first impulse. Bring food. And I’m not Mormon, but I have a strong Italian background! The way I figure it, one less thing to deal with when worrying about family is a good thing. Yes, they may know how to cook, but it becomes waaaaay more difficult when you are worrying. better not to have to.

Comment by Carol 03.18.08 @ 3:42 pm

Add in the Germans and the Amish, both sides of my family always have spare covered cake and casserole pans at the ready. It’s the small things that really make a difference, and remind you you’re not alone out there, eh?

Comment by Diana Troldahl 03.18.08 @ 4:59 pm

It makes you wonder how many of the world’s problems would be done away with if everyone who could brought over a casserole, and those who couldn’t said,”Thank you,” and sat down to eat.

Comment by Laura 03.18.08 @ 6:22 pm

This was beautiful. I bet she thought of you so many times. Every time she saw or wore that scarf, for certain.

Comment by Momo Fali 03.18.08 @ 6:42 pm

Ha! Ha! I grew up in a small ranching town, and my reaction to any tragedy is still to bring a casserole! Every crisis or illness, we took food. Maybe it’s a small-town thing, or maybe it’s because we were 100 miles from any restaurant that might possibly deliver….:)

Comment by Toni 03.19.08 @ 5:12 am

Hospitality knows no bounds! Lovely story and lesson, too!

Comment by Toni 03.19.08 @ 6:53 am

Homemade food taken to friends and neighbours in need is always a comfort to those receiving it! I too enjoy the chance, which around here isnt that often, to take a covered cassarole, homemade goodies or something similar to whoever may need it.

Comment by Danielle from SW MO 03.19.08 @ 11:08 am

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