Last Friday I drove down to Spokane, and I have just returned today. It takes something fairly major for me to drive over a couple of mountain passes in the winter. It was my mom's 79th birthday, and I really wanted to be there to celebrate with her.
When I go down to visit we usually have tons of things we do in the short time I am there, but this time we mostly just relaxed, watched some television and visited. Of course, that meant I got lots of knitting done, but I will save that update for another post. We did manage to drag ourselves out the door to go to Trader Joe's, and this time I felt like I hit the jackpot. They have just started carrying a gluten-free pizza!
The original plan was for my mom to take me out for dinner on Sunday for my birthday, and I would take her out on Monday for hers. When we were at Trader Joe's Sunday morning and I found the gluten-free pizza I said I would rather have that than go out for a meal. How many people do you know who would trade a dinner at the local Mongolian restaurant for a frozen pizza?
We also made a quick stop at a store to pick up a plastic storage container my mom needed. It ended up being one of those amazing life moments that takes you completely by surprise. We headed over to a cashier to pay, but then noticed there was someone in line ahead of us buying shoes. This wouldn't have been a big deal if he had been buying just one pair of shoes, but this guy was buying hundreds of pairs of shoes! There were shopping carts full of them, more stacked on the counter for the cashier to ring through, and this bunch waiting to be dealt with.
My mom asked the guy buying all of these what he was planning to do with them. After all, there are only so many pairs of shoes one person can wear, and these weren't even shoes for adults. They were all children's shoes. It turns out he was with a non-profit charity called Soul To Sole, and every year they buy about 1500 pairs of new shoes to give to needy children across the city of Spokane. His eyes lit up as he told us about fitting a child for their new shoes, then a couple weeks later handing that child their new pair. Every day we are bombarded with news stories of terrible things happening around the world, and this somehow seemed to balance some of that out. Quiet acts of kindness and compassion tend to get ignored by the media.
Mom's 79th birthday was yesterday, and my cousin Kath (my mom's niece) came in to help us celebrate. We are a family of introverts, so every time we went to the elevator in my mom's retirement home and were greeted by this sign my mom would cringe.
We went out to dinner, then back to the apartment where my mom and Kath indulged in the box of Purdy's salted caramels I had given to my mom. This might be hard to believe, but I didn't eat a single one. In a rare moment of chocolate self-control, I decided I could buy them any time I wanted, but for them they were a rare treat. I felt quite virtuous.
Kath stayed overnight, and the evening reminded me of when I was a kid and would go to a slumber party. We talked and laughed and told stories until way past when we should have gone to bed, especially considering I had to get up and face the long drive home today. Here we are at the restaurant.
Happy birthday Mom! And I'm really sorry I lied about not putting this picture in my blog.