In the midst of other good things that happened this past week—two really good things stand out.
Good Thing #1.
I had plans, so I awoke just after dawn. Quite unusual for me as I usually go to bed at the crack of dawn (because at my age you can do what you want). I had some time at that early hour to make tea and sit in the atrium before getting dressed and leaving. I opened the atrium door to let in some fresh air from the outside. A soft 68-degrees drifted inside. Oh my! The weather had cooled. I leaned back in one of our patio sofas. Suddenly, I felt giddy. Could it be? Has fall arrived in the Arizona desert?
I realized I could once again step outside without the fear of incineration. Oh! The giddiness that came over me! I wanted to wake Jerry and shout, “WE MADE IT!” But Jerry doesn’t like me to shout until 8 a.m. I kicked my feet up on Jerry’s coffee table and took in the early morning bliss of red bougainvillea blossoms, bunnies, birds, and lizards, swinging and twirling in their own giddy way in our backyard.
This past June the temperatures skyrocketed to 120 degrees and stayed there for several days. I have never lived in a place with the temperature so high. I discovered, however, that once the temperature rises over 110 degrees, it doesn’t matter how hot it becomes. You can go outside and burn your lungs at 110 or 120 just the same. Ahhh, but we love the Arizona desert. We love the cactus in bloom, the fiery orange-pink sunsets, the comical quail, the highly-caffeinated roadrunners, and the pumpkin spice lattes with whip at Starbucks (although I read the lattes are high in sugar, but let’s not think about that right now). The fall and winter months keep us in the hope of the glorious seasons where heat no longer is a threat.
In my mind, there’s no joy to equal the arrival of fall in the Sonoran Desert.
Good Thing #2
As children, many of us received money in our birthday cards. Aunts, uncles, grandmas, the nice neighbor lady—these people stuffed dollar bills in our birthday cards.
At 8-years-old, my son had more money than Jerry or me. He saved and he worked and he knew the value of a dollar. On my son’s 9th birthday, one of our relatives wrote to our son that she couldn’t send money because she was on a fixed retirement income. She added, “I send my love instead of money.” My son turned to me and said sadly, “But I don’t want love!”
I had this in mind when I recently sent a card to 10-year-old Jack, the son of my friend Aubrey whose family gave me and many others sadness when they moved last July from our town in Maricopa to Katy, Texas. Even though the card I sent to Jack wasn’t a birthday card, but a “welcome to your new home card,” I stuffed a dollar inside to make the card more fun when he opened it.
After moving to Katy and getting settled in, Jack sent me a letter and included his beautiful artwork (see above) and two bendy pencils, one for me and one for Jerry. To thank Jack for all the cool stuff, I sent him the card with the dollar, plus a letter and a screwdriver (Jack loves screwdrivers, he informed me once).
I realize you can’t buy anything with a dollar these days. You can’t even buy a peanut butter cookie at Panera Bread for a dollar. The restaurant wants $1.59 plus tax (I discovered this yesterday). Even so, I hoped my dollar to Jack would add a smile when he opened the card.
A week later, Aubrey sent me a text telling me what Jack did with the dollar after he received my card. He built a gorgeous yellow Lego frame for my dollar because he wanted to keep it to remember me by.
Wow, how many kids would do that? I never considered framing the money sent to me by grandmas and aunts. I only could think of what I could buy with it.
I’ve learned a lot from Jack. For one, his joy for life is contagious. He loves to tell jokes because he loves to see others laugh. And he does make me laugh. One time, Jerry told Jack about a guy he worked with who wore huge metal disks in his ear lobes. Soon after, Jack clipped a metal clothespin on his ear to see if we’d notice. When we noticed, he got the biggest kick out of surprising us. “Oh Jack, you crack us up!” Another time, Jack inquired about a drawer in our kitchen. I told him it was our junk drawer. He threw his arms in the air and announced with sheer enthusiasm, “I love junk!”
Jack knows how to make the ordinary fun. Even more, he knows how to honor a friend.
I would have to say, no one ever has framed a dollar bill I gave them in remembrance of me.
And to you Jack, I only have one thing to say. That is: I’m so honored to know you and call you my friend.