Unexpected Blessings

Today I was helping a friend pack up multiple boxes of household goods to give to various local charities. She’d had a garage sale a couple of weeks ago, and we were clearing out what remained.

This was in her previous home, which she plans to put on the market as soon as it’s clear of clutter and the carpet is replaced. Until the last few days, the weather has been mild, but the temperatures dropped below freezing last night, and the inside temperature when we arrived was 48 degrees.

Jo handed me a coat she planned to give to Goodwill, asking me, as she helped me put it on, if I had a good winter coat. “This one’s vicuña,” she said with a smile. I turned around. “It looks good on you.”

It fit, too, but I have a winter coat, and declined her offer. Later, I got to thinking about. Vicuña — isn’t that a luxury fiber? I’d just been wondering what coat I would wear if I had the opportunity to go somewhere dressier than my usual haunts (that is to say, something that required more than jeans). I hated to see such a lovely coat go to Goodwill…it could end up belonging to someone with no appreciation for vicuña.

Vintage vicuña, at that. A coat like this can go for thousands of dollars today. I accepted her offer.

Suddenly, I felt like a princess. Trust me, this coat isn’t being worn on a regular basis. It won’t be stuffed in a locker at work or thrown in the back seat of my car because the day has warmed up. It will be treasured.

Vicuña are the endangered cousins of llamas, adorable creatures whose wool was once only permitted for the clothing of Incan royalty (you see why I felt like a princess). Fiber made from this precious fleece is like spun gold.

I’m running out for cedar blocks to hang in my coat closet. No moth better even think of chomping on my coat.

I’m in awe of this treasure, and thankful my friend thought of me.

Some days bring unexpected blessings.


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Caturday Memories

Today I want to remember all the kitties from my past.

I don’t have pictures of all of them, nor is it likely I’ll remember all their names. But Hugo, Petunia, Whittier, Salem, Gabriel, Cassie, Darren, Whitney, Montero, Carter and of course, Paco, you made my life better just by being there in the morning. Even if being there meant you were pestering me for food.

Granted, the quality of many of these pictures is pretty poor, either due to age or because they’re Polaroids (or both). But you get an idea of how blessed I’ve been.

Caturday Memories.


 

comfort

In the middle of the night, I wake up and they’re sneaking in to snuggle up next to me. They know if I’m awake I’m likely to move them, because their warm bodies overheat me and I don’t like being pinned down by dead weight. But if I’m asleep, I don’t know any better.

So I smile and just hope I’ll go right back to sleep, because I don’t want to turn away their love.

my best gifts received, part one

In high school, my friend Sue gave me an ornament for Christmas. I remember being a bit disappointed. It wasn’t much of a gift in my 15-year-old estimation.

angel ornamentSue assured me I’d value it more each year. What she didn’t know was her friendship had far greater value.

At a time when I was awkward and insecure, she made me feel important. The first time I met her was as the new kid in sixth grade. I huddled alone in the corner of the playground, the only girl wearing a dress, waiting for class to start.

Shaking, my back against the brick wall, hands clasped tightly together, I was wishing I’d worn jeans as my mom suggested. All these kids had gone to school together since kindergarten, I was sure of it. I’d never fit in.

Sue with her pigtails & bows and another girl, Nada, approached me.

“Are you new?” they asked in unison. We all giggled.

“Yes!” I said, incredibly happy someone had noticed me.

Turned out we were in the same class, with the same scary teacher. They gave me the scoop. She was fat (apparently important information for sixth-graders) and this was her first teaching job.

I don’t know if I was the friend to her she never stopped being to me.

The next summer Sue’s mom was killed in a plane accident. Her father remarried soon after, and certainly the adjustment must have been hard for her. I don’t know if I was the friend to her she never stopped being to me.

A seventh-grade diary entry early in the school year noted she seemed okay. At least I wondered how she was doing. I hope I asked her about it, gave her a chance to talk. I don’t remember.

In high school, my mental health problems arose. As I started to lose confidence, gain weight and sink into a series of deep depressions, she did her best to make me feel better. “You look real nice today,” she’d tell me on days when my dirty hair was held back with a scarf or my outfit played up the extra pounds. I saw through it and appreciated her thoughtfulness. It meant I had a friend.

Every Christmas I think of her and cry a little, missing our friendship and how much it meant to me.

The last time I saw her was about a year after we graduated. I was walking around a lake near my home and she came from the opposite direction, with a boyfriend, I think.

She was genuinely happy to see me. We had an enthusiastic and chatty catch-up conversation, then moved on in our separate walks. I haven’t seen her since.

I’ve tried to look her up, with no success. Every Christmas I see that ornament, think of her and cry a little, missing our friendship and the opportunity to tell her how much it meant to me.

Still means to me.


 

Photo Credit: (background) © Diana Rich; (ornament) © Stuart Monk, both — DollarPhotoClub.com

jaunty…or, my best gifts given, part two. my best gifts received, always.

Ten years ago my friendship with Mary began, and two years ago it ended when she passed away at the age of 53.

Mary had outlived the odds from the day she was born, when her birth mother was told she wouldn’t make it more than six months. Later, her adoptive parents were told the same thing repeatedly throughout her childhood — and as an adult, Mary heard it so often she stopped telling her husband, Mike.

Mary was one of those people who had hundreds of “best friends.” Selbu Modern - pink & gray tamShe would do whatever she could for any of them, including me. She was gutsy and kind. When she went into the hospital for what turned out to be the last time, Mike asked me to make her a “jaunty beret” because her treatment had caused much of her hair to fall out, and she was self-conscious about it.

I immediately set out to find the right pattern and right yarn — something soft for what I imagined might be sensitive skin — and knit up this little hat here.

Actually, this is the second hat I knit in this pattern. I never took a picture of the first one, which went to Mary. When I asked Mike if she liked it, he said she hadn’t had a chance to try it on. After a short time, I caught on. She was too sick for this to matter the least bit.

She maybe never saw the hat at all, or the slippers I included with it. However, I don’t feel anything but gratitude I had a chance to show her my love by knitting this for her, in the off-chance she knew about it.

Last week another Mary in my life died, one month shy of her 41st birthday. It was stunningly sudden. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been entirely surprised, however, for this Mary had lost her eldest son ten years ago to leukemia, and hadn’t been the same since. In many ways she’d moved on beautifully, but her heartache showed itself quietly. It’s possible that pain influenced the way she cared for herself. I don’t know, and it would be wrong for me to assume.

Kims Slippers red rose IIOne day on impulse I gave her a pair of slippers I’d knit from a pattern I designed. She started to cry.

“You don’t know what this means to me,” she said.

They were only slippers, so I really didn’t, but I was touched it meant so much. And oh-so-glad I’d done it. If my one small gesture made even a tiny part of her life better, I only wish I could have done a hundred times more. She was special and deserved to know it.

I’m lucky I have a skill I can use to show my love to others, and far luckier for those I have to receive those gifts. Rest in peace, my friends, your suffering is over. You were a gift and a blessing to me. My life is better because you were in it.