Friends Among Cabbages

The grocery store was awash with shoppers filling carts of silver wire on rolling wheels of four. Rounding the bend I spotted plastic jugs of milk, a sack of red potatoes and two boxes of Mini-Wheats heading straight away. I swerved to the side before racing a plush bunny in blue. One long and lean leg swung over the side, enjoying the ride. And, just in front of him was a young woman checking her list, pushing a buggy brimming with apples and oranges, boxes of diapers and a tall can of whip cream tipping next to mold of bright green J.e.l.l.o.

Slowly, I scanned the array of fresh, red meats, not sure of what to fix or eat. My kids were coming to stay with grandbabies too. I needed something easy to throw in a pot, to cook all day while I finished working. What would it be for me?

Just then, an elderly man of about 75 years or more, tapped my shoulder.

“Excuse me, do you know where I might find the corned beef?” “Hmmm…it should be right here,” I responded. “Let me find it for you.”

I scanned the coolers, but couldn’t find corned beef anywhere. “Do you think we should ask someone,” inquired the man with the kind moon face. His hair was balding blonde, and his eyes were clear and crystal blue. Looking into them, I sensed something faraway, as if he felt all alone in the world.  Surprisingly, he took my hand to introduce himself.

“Hello, my name is John, what is your name?”

“Kim,” I answered, grasping his long fingers in my own.

“Kim, that’s a beautiful name. Nice to meet you.”

John smiled, making me blush. A warmth surrounded him, making me feel comfortable, and happy to meet him. I went on to find an employee of the store who soon discovered a fresh batch of corned beef in the back room.

“How do you cook it,” John asked? “It’s just me, this year,” he said, bending his head.

With a gentle smile, I told him how my mother used to cook corned beef. “She added a plump head of cabbage with a bunch of carrots before dropping in red potatoes together with an onion and spices. Then, she simply cooked all of it together in one big pot,” I added with a big grin!

“Thank you!” John’s spirits were starting to lift. Perhaps my enthusiasm was rubbing off on him a bit?

“You know, John, I’m glad I met you,” I said, scooping up a package of corned beef. “This sounds really good to me!”

Together, John and I rolled over to the cabbage bin, new friends by happenstance.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!


My Happy Place

*My Happy Place, visited often and again early this morning.  A post worth repeating filled with life lessons….

There is a familiar spot here in great St. Louis, where people flop inside or outside, leaving their troubles behind for another time.  Actually, this hang-out is located in a toy town called Kirkwood, about ten miles from the chocolate color of my dusty garage door.

When summer begins to wane the weather is perfect, like this time of year.  Today, barely a soul of young or old can be found inside the multiple front doors of the welcoming café.  Instead, eagle eyes scan the outdoor crowd, looking for any sign of movement in case an imaginary “Vacancy” sign pops up.  Deep breaths are taken.  Fresh air is inhaled while lungs expand.  Ahhh, relaxation begins!

It is here that a new discovery is made each and every time I visit.  Who would think that a simple, nondescript patio made of concrete cement would have such an impact on my life?  And, yet it does.  This is my Happy Place.  A corner of wired tables in black with matching chairs on top of grey.  Wait…take a seat, sit down to rest your feet.  Shhh, watch and listen.  This is a haven full of people who are living in the moment.

Do you see what I see?  There are mothers pushing strollers, babes in arms, Daddies giving horsy-rides and coffee cups made of china white.  Children riding scooters, chocolate milk clutched in little hands, bikers, joggers, bunnies in wagons and toasted bagels laden with cream cheese.  Kisses on cheeks, grandparents carrying toddlers, and dogs-of-all-kinds. Pacifiers in pink or blue, books being read and luxury leashes made of leather.  Working laptops, baked banana bread so good, couples on first dates, I-phones, singles and fountains splish-splashing.  Love is in the air, walkers, bottles filled with water, smiles, secrets and even bellies-SO BIG!

My husband clasps my hand to find me the best seat.  He pulls out my chair before inquiring what I’d like to sip and eat.  “A vanilla cappuccino,” he asks, expecting a “Y.E.S.” Next, his words so sweet, “A cinnamon roll warmed for you?”  He is the very best man and I am the luckiest of women.  Soon he comes back with my treats.

While nibbling, I stop to “people watch,” snap a few pictures, and meet new friends.  The sun feels warm to my skin, pinking my cheeks.  Next to me, I meet the cutest Labradoodle who excitedly poses for me.  And then, a “Hallmark” moment begins.

A few feet away, the sweetest girl of young reaches up and over on tippy-toes to kiss her loved one so dear.  She has long and lovely dark hair, wears shorts and seems to surprise the woman who is older than she.  My heart skips a beat.

Seconds go by.  The freshly kissed woman passes our table.  My husband smiles, pointing to our phone.  “Look,” he says, stopping her.  A gentle grin, big and wide slides over pretty, white teeth.  She is touched by what she sees, going on to tell us a bit about her lovely grand-daughter.

Looking across at her table, she notices more seats taken.  Chairs pulled out.  Tennis shoes underneath.  This time by her husband together with a darling, young grand-son wearing metal and leather braces strapped to thin legs.  Briefly, we talk about Chronic Conditions.  “He was born with club feet,” she says, speaking of her other darling one.  “He’s already had several surgeries,” she adds, “with more to come.”  She speaks matter-of-factly, with no hint of ‘woe-is-me‘ in her voice when she glances over at her loved ones.

There is no doubt, no question in my mind that this is where I am supposed to be.   Right now, right here at this moment in time.  A new Life Lesson for me today.  How special it is to have and hold this “Hallmark” tip-toed kiss upon a grandmother’s lips!  From an innocent grand-daughter to her loving grandmother.  A story of life trials chock full of smiles on this very morning.  Lucky for me.

No matter how brief, this will forever be “My Happy Place.”