Tag Archives: Angels

A Wonderful Life for Someone else may be lacking one ingredient: You

26 Jan

It's a Wonderful Life

The movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life,” centers around the life of George Bailey, a man with big dreams who ends up living his life humbly and honorably in the small town where he grew up.  At one point in the film, George contemplates suicide because he is in a desperate financial situation and he has been led to believe that he is worth more dead than alive (via his insurance policy). Fortunately, George is helped to see the true value of his life (the good he’s done, the friends he’s made, the family he is a part of) byway of Clarence, an angel who wants to earn his wings.  In the final scene we witness George Bailey surrounded by his family, friends, and neighbors. They have all come because they heard that he was in trouble and they wanted to help. As George is letting this all sink in, his brother, Harry, raises a glass to toast him saying, “To my big brother, George, the richest man in town.”

The first time I saw that film, I was barely out of my teens.  My Mom had suggested I watch it as it was the late night movie that day and I must have looked a bit sad coming home from a date.  The movie grabbed my from the start and I watched transfixed til the end and hoped that my sobs were not loud enough to wake the rest of the family.  Clearly, the film had made an impact.

Why do I tell this story?  I suppose it is because I am often reminded that it is the little things that we do that really matter the most… the friendships we make, the kindness we offer, the joy that comes from shared experiences… even when things don’t go as planned.  In fact, often those times are the most memorable.

For the past week, Emile and I have been in Mexico and a few days ago we were able to meet up with old friends.  They drove five hours to spend time with us (okay, they were also going to the beach).  Neither of us is fluent in the other’s language… my Spanish is fair at best) but we find ways to communicate.  We spent two days together discovering new beaches: Boca de Iguanas (the sign near the bay there says “No Swimming: Crocodiles”), Tenicatita (no amenities and a military presence made this beach unappealing), before settling at Melaque for swimming, working a jigsaw puzzle, and sipping Modelos.

P1030724ramirez family in barra

Karen and Rosalba;  David, Miriam, Leslie, Rosalba with me and Emile

The day our friends arrived, I made a coconut cream pie to share with them and one of our favorite restaurateurs. Unfortunately, that taco stand was closed that day and so we found another taqueria and made new friends there.  I gave the pie to our waiter and asked him to please keep it cold until we’d eaten.  After our dinner, I went to retrieve it and when he opened th fridge we saw the pie tilted on its side oozing out of the pie tin.  The worried look on his face was instantly removed when I laughed and told him that it was okay… it was after all, just a pie!  As it was a few days before David’s birthday, we sang to him and each enjoyed a bit of mushy pie.  Life is good!

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After David and his family left, we returned to our usual routine… walking the beach… and for me, that also means searching for shells.  As we were standing by a fisherman, I found a particularly strange one and showed it to him explaining that I loved the surprises that come with each wave.  He looked at the shell and said what I had was a “regala de la mar” using the same words as the title of Anne Morrow Lindbergh‘s book, Gift from the Sea.  My thoughts exactly!

Later in the day, we sat under an umbrella and the waves kept bringing up bits of plants.  The tiny older woman who had rented us a table looked so small compared to the task she faced at cleaning the beach (read: impossible), and so for a little while I raked for her. You can imagine the looks I received from locals and tourists alike… but I just needed to do something!  Afterwards, the old woman and I laughed at the never-ending process and shared a moment of understanding. Pretty amazing how easy it is to do that if you give it a shot.

That evening we found our way to our first taqueria bearing a Chocolate Cream Pie.  I’d been told the day before by Mario, our young waiter, that the reason they were closed was so that the whole family could celebrate his 13th birthday. That must have made him feel pretty special!  And I wanted to honor him as well… and what else would I give him but a pie?

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As I close, I want to leave you with this thought: we really never know what another person is going through… and our words and actions may be the one thing that makes or breaks their day. I’m sure it wouldn’t take long to think of a situation in your world needing help.  Maybe you can’t fix it… but it is likely can make a small difference. We simply can’t rely on angels like Clarence to do it for us… sometimes, it is up to us.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive. Dalai Lama

Chocolate Cream Pie, Travel Woes, and Virtual Pies for a few Angels

21 Apr

Chocolate Cream Pie

Chocolate Cream Pie

As you know, I have spent the last three weeks in Florida with my Dad after he suffered a “major” stroke.  At first it seemed that my Dad would have surgery almost immediately to clear his carotid artery, but the doctors have decided that they would like to give my Dad more time to heal and so his surgery has been postponed until mid-May.  And since my Dad’s condition appears to be improving each day, and because I had committed to a few catering events, and because I missed my husband, I decided to come back home for a while.

In the days before I left, I tried to wrap up all the loose ends for my Dad that I could: arranging for the payment of bills, handling of laundry and mail, and most importantly, his health concerns and future care.   One thing that I considered tremendously important was to convey to the nurses and aides that I want (more likely need) them to watch over my Dad when I am not there to do so.   How could I do that?  Well, being me, I thought a pie might do the trick.

My nephew Wayne and I shopped for the ingredients after we had put my Dad to bed one night and two days before I left Florida I brought a chocolate cream pie to the nurses in my Dad’s wing.   They smiled and thanked me but I felt that something was wrong.  And after thinking about it, the best explanation I have is that those nurses don’t know me at all; they certainly don’t know, or care, about my pie blog and they just might not trust food from a stranger.  And though I truly hope this isn’t true, I don’t believe that the nurses ate one bite of that pie.

In retrospect, I understand; why should they trust me? Perhaps I should have just bought another pizza, but the “pie lady” in me wanted to show my gratitude with a pie that I had made.   And it was an experience making a pie without my usual accoutrements (cuisinart, pastry bag and tips, etc) but I figured it out and was proud of the final product… and even if the pie wasn’t eaten, it was given in the spirit of gratitude, and that’s all that matters.

On the day that I left, I arrived at the airport and was told that my flight was cancelled.   Thus began a 33 hour odyssey to get back to southern Oregon.  I’ll spare you the details here, but will mention that I spent time in six different cities before I arrived home (including catching a late night nap in a major west coast city).  What I do want to share is that I met three lovely people (angels?) on my journey… each of whom had a parent who had suffered a stroke.

The first was a man that I met in Fort Lauderdale who had just lost his Mom. His name was Steve and we spent an hour or so (our flight was delayed) talking about our kids, our parents, and this crazy system we call “health care.”

The next angel I met, was a lady named Connie.  She was my seat mate for a few hours and as we talked (and prayed during the most turbulent parts of the flight) she told me about losing both of her parents.  She knew the path I was traveling and was willing to listen to me as I rambled on;  she was a great comfort simply by being there.

The last angel I met was a man named Matt.  He was born in London but now lives in northern California.  We struck up a conversation as we watched our flight time change over and over.  His Dad suffered a stroke 18 years ago and has survived; unfortunately, their relationship has not.  What was most amazing about Matt was that when we realized that I was not going to make my last connecting flight, he offered to take me home and introduce me to his wife and child so I would not have to spend the night in the airport.

Tonight, I am deeply grateful that my Dad survived his stroke… and also very grateful to those people who I met along my journey home.  I wish that I could give each of them a pie… but because I cannot, I hope that my sincerest thanks will do.  Each of them has reinforced my faith in humanity… and that is an amazing gift.

It  is by suffering that human beings become angels.
Victor  Hugo

Day 266: Community Dinner

28 Dec


Cream Cheese Pear Tart

Cream Cheese Pear Tart topped with Toasted Almonds

On the last Wednesday of every month, our church puts on a community dinner. It is free to whoever wants to come and join us and we usually provide one main course, several soup options, several salad choices, vegetables, bread and dessert. Last month we served over 95 members of the community at our dinner and we didn’t have much in the way of leftovers.

Tonight was our last community dinner for the year and the person in charge, Kathy, emailed me for entree ideas. Since I love macaroni and cheese, that is what I suggested. It’s also easy to make and kid-friendly. Kathy liked my suggestion and we met at the church around 3PM to begin prepping for dinner.

There were a few other key players there then: Marilyn and Gene, Pat and Dick, and Sue Anne. The dining area was beautifully set up and we had three great salads made when they all had to leave. That left me, Kathy, and Kathy’s friend, Shari, to get ready for dinner. At that point I think we all thought, “Yikes”, but we did not panic. We just crossed our fingers that all would work out. And it did.

We made a lot of food (because 95 guests had shown up last month!) but less than half of that showed up tonight, perhaps due to the unusually warm evening. That meant that we had an abundance of food and we were able to send folks home with food for another meal or two and they all thanked us for that.

Tonight I thought I would give my “pie of the day” to a family or group of friends at the dinner. There was one full table in the room with a family that spoke Spanish and I approached them with my pear tart. I used my best language skills but still needed a bit of help from their children to explain my pie project. They all were very gracious and thanked me. One of the daughters told me that she would even check out my blog. It was a very sweet moment.

And what followed was even nicer. As we headed back to the kitchen to attack the mountain of dishes that had been created, this family stayed and helped us put the chairs and tables away. We did not ask them to do this but we were so very grateful for their help. Who knows, we might still be there now if they’d not offered to assist us.

All in all, everything worked out just fine. Maybe it was because we were crossing our fingers… or maybe it was because we were doing something good and we had angels working on our side.

Day 228: Melissa

20 Nov

Recently I came across an article by Isha Judd, the author of “Why Walk When You Can Fly.” In the article Isha refers to a tragic plane crash and speaks of the unpredictability of life. Here is an excerpt from that article:

We are reminded that life changes, sometimes abruptly, dramatically, unexpectedly. What is present in one moment can be gone in the next: no matter the nation, no matter the motivation or the cause, loss moves us all, for we have all experienced it in some way or another.

But just as life is unpredictable, it is also wonderful. The opportunities to share love, to discover the best of ourselves, to discover selfless giving and inner evolution in every moment are always present.

Sometimes we don’t see those opportunities until someone else shows them to us… and my friend Melissa is the kind of person who does just that. About two years ago Melissa began a campaign at the First Presbyterian Church to host a community dinner one night a month. The amount of work that went into that effort was daunting, yet Melissa persevered. She continues to put time and money into this cause where her only rewards are the smiles that she receives from the grateful people that have been welcomed and fed.

Melissa has shown us how to reach beyond ourselves to those who are in need in our midst. I know I speak for many when I say that we appreciate what she has done… and this afternoon I brought a Dutch Apple Pie to Melissa to thank her for being such a kind and compassionate role model.

Don’t forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it. –Hebrews 13:2

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