I have been really feeling things today, good things, good emotions. Sweet, bring you to tears emotions. At work, there was a woman who was putting together a gift with such focus and creativity you would have thought she was the only one in the room. She was certainly only focused on her gift. The focus wasn’t selfish. I made a comment about what she was doing, and she explained that she was putting together a gift for her daughter, who was going to be celebrating her 6th wedding anniversary tomorrow. She explained that her daughter had been trying to get pregnant, but that wasn’t working well, and that she wanted to do something really special for her. The woman’s love for her daughter was so apparent as she moved through the store and pieced things together to create a tray with oil lamps, bowls, dish towels, wine, salsa, and so on. She asked me about napkins, and as I pointed some out, she said, quickly but kindly, that was not her daughter’s style. I loved that she knew her daughter so well to be confident of what was and wasn’t her style.
As I walked away to let her continue to shop, I almost cried. I told a couple of my coworkers about what the lady was doing, and one of them said, “Oh Kiersten, you’re so funny.” I don’t think they understood. I wish all retail customers shopped the same way this woman did. She was so intentional and creative as she looked for her daughter’s gift, and so kind to us in her speech. So many people come into the store and just want us to pick something. They are impatient and in a hurry. I want to ask why they are giving a gift if they don’t care what it is. They may have a good reason, I just want to know why sometimes.
Then I got home and began to make dinner. I cooked pesto and pasta and added some tomatoes on top. After I cooked my pasta, as I sifted the spaghetti noodles through my fingers, feeling their stickiness, I thought about how I learned years ago from my grandmother that if you cook spaghetti noodles, the way to tell if they are ready is to throw one against the wall. If it sticks, it’s al denté. That made me think of my sweet grandmother, always giving and giving. She’s like the giving tree from the book. She used to cook for us when we came to visit her, and then when we moved into the same city, every Sunday she would have us over for lunch. And she cooked. Nothing fancy. She’d of course set the table (or ask one of us to do it), and either cook stew or spaghetti. And she’d have caesar salads, because she knew my dad and I liked the salad. She would make corn because she knew my brother loved corn on the cob. Now, as an adult, I look back and think how that must have meant so much to my grandmother, as a woman living by herself, to have people in her home and to give to us, to care for us. I wasn’t very grateful at the time. But it means so much to me now. I’m so glad she did that. And after she cooked, she’d just sit back and watch the chaos of my family’s conversations. She’d watch our teenage attitudes, hear our discouragements, watch our apathetic looks, listen to our laughter, love our hugs, love listening the talks. But after she cooked, she was a watcher. She would just sit back and enjoy us enjoying the food that she made, enjoying the sweetness of having everyone together. She enjoyed the environment that she had created. That is so HER. She just gives and gives, not expecting anything in return, but simply loves knowing that we are enjoying the gifts that she’s given. It is so sweet. Honey-for-the-soul sweet. I get that now. So I called her. Age and sickness have made her no longer able to cook for us. But I called her tonight and told her about my spaghetti noodle memory, and she laughed and said that she did remember that. I’m so thankful for my grandmother.
After dinner I went for a walk. I talked on the phone as I walked to a park nearby, and found out some great news in response to a prayer and concerns. I got to the park, I sat for a bit on a bench overlooking a field (valley) surrounded by trees, watching the sunset, and I was just thankful. I have to take times to do things like that. To play outside, to walk barefooted to my neighbor’s house, to swing, to pick fresh herbs from the garden. Tactile, earthy, real things.