I got to Jackson, California, in time to stand in line for fifteen minutes to order at the counter of a local restaurant. Shortly thereafter, I found myself at a miniscule table that purported to be for two. Jammed into a corner beside the bathroom door and the bus-station-cart, the round table could not have held two plates, mugs, and sets of silverware. I gathered the warm welcome at the register did not extend to solo travelers.
I watched a waitress serve the same plate of food to two different parties. My own fare included a rotten peach and eggs cooked without so much as a grain of salt. When the waitress asked if I had enjoyed myself, I mentioned these facts without rancor or wrath. In the middle of her kind apology, the manager forced himself between us and scolded me for not talking to him. I felt sorry for the girl; she had been handling the exchange with courtesy, professionalism, and honesty. Her boss did not do her justice. But I smiled and left. I shan’t even mention the name of the place. I’m biting my tongue on a Yelp review. Would that be complaining? I don’t want to ruin my Sunday record.
Across the street, I browsed a delightful antique shop, finding presents for the daughters of two friends. I happened to mention to the owner that my next stop involved delivering hand-me-down clothing for ultimate distribution to needy people. To my great glee, she promptly donated a bag of baby items from her stash of secondhand buys. A couple stepped forward with an offer of assistance to my car, which I gladly accepted.
An hour later, I pulled into the driveway of Kim and Ricky Martinez’s beautiful home in Farmington. The smiling faces of Kim, her parents Wayne and Gerri, and their friend Carol warmed my heart. I toured the lovely grounds and gorgeous setting to which Gerri, Wayne, and Carol had relocated after moving from their two prominent spots in the front row of the park in which I live. One of our neighbors had mentioned how nice their new digs seemed. How nice could it be, I asked myself as I drove south and east. I found out today; a serene setting in the valley adjacent to gentle foothills, behind a low, long bungalow and a private built-in pool with several lovely seating areas for morning coffee, afternoon tea, or dinner al fresco.
Over a bountiful lunch, these women whom I’ve known for just four years talked of their ministry serving pizza each week in the Modesto City Park. I’m not a religious person, but their work impresses me. My donated items will join many other contributions, spread on tables for people to take what they need. GraceIsTheKey serves with humility and joy. You don’t have to be Christian to admire their spirit of loving and giving. You can be Muslim, Jewish, nonreligious, or atheist. True charity has no dogmatic boundaries.
Towards the end of our visit, we shared a bit about the inevitable medical issues of the late middle-aged. We stood in Kim’s lovely kitchen while Carol collected fresh eggs for me to take home. I tried to summarize my latest rash of medical activity with clinical precision. After my three or four sentence recitation, Kim beamed as though I had won the lottery. All that, she proclaimed, And you still do not complain!
Ah, my friend; would that I could honor your lofty assessment of me! But I try; I try indeed. And, many thanks to all of you. The memory of our lovely afternoon together has bolstered my resolve to achieve the goal which I set for myself so many Sundays ago.
It’s the twenty-fifth day of the one-hundred and fifth month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.