Posts tagged Spokane

Bits and Pieces

I found a quilter’s haven in Spokane so I decided to stay awhile and check out this fine city.  After doing some checking around, I decided my best bet for a long stay was at the Park Lane Motel, Suites & RV Park.  As I was checking in the park manager asked if I was the lady riding across the country on a bike.  I told him I was indeed that crazy lady and that this trip has opened up my eyes to a whole new world of people out there.  We had a nice visit about how we get caught up in our own lives and tend to ignore things going on around us.  He then asked how long I’d be staying.  I told him that I was feeling a bit fatigued and since there was a bunch of quilting stores I wanted to visit, I thought my stay here would be at least a week, but as it eventually turned out I spent almost a month there.  He offered me a maid service job in exchange for my stay there and any hours worked over 20 hours I’d get paid $8.25 an hour.  I figured that was a fair deal so I took him up on this offer. 

I got myself settled in my studio apartment then went to learn all of what I’d be doing as a maid.  Having done this type of work before, I found it to be much the same routine.  It is hard work, but rewarding and it was paying for my room so that was good. 

At the end of my day I walked to the Costco and bought some foods that I could quickly prepare in my tiny kitchen.  Over the next few weeks I checked out the many quilt stores and the rest of this fine town.  I found each quilt store to have something unique, but there was one store that would change my life forever. 

As I entered the A Heart Like Yours Quilt Shop I found an elderly woman showing off a beautifully made quilt to the shop owner.  Not wanting to disturb their conversation I quickly rounded a rack of fabrics and began my search for new and exciting fabrics.  As I moved through the store I kept hearing bits and pieces of their conversation.  I suddenly realized that the elderly woman was trying to sell her quilt to the store owner, that this quilt had been made by her grandmother, and that she had meticulously cared for it for all these years.  The store owner kept telling her that she wasn’t in the market for antique quilts and that the woman would be better off going to an antique store to try to sell it. 

The elderly woman, whose name I would find out soon was Margaret, seemed exasperated with the store owner.  As she carefully folded the quilt and the store owner went off to help a different customer I approached Margaret.  I asked if I could see this fine quilt.  It was exquisite with lots of applique, something I hated doing, with intricate lace work.  I told Margaret that I had overheard that her grandmother had made it, but that I hadn’t heard if it was made for her or if it was something that was handed down to her.  She told me that the quilt was made for her mother’s wedding gift and that when she had gotten married her mother gave it to her.  Being the snoop that I am I asked Margaret why she wasn’t giving it to any of her children.  Margaret explained that the only child she had died at birth and that she had been unable to have any more children.  I pressed her for more information asking why she wanted to sell such an heirloom.  It was at this moment that I was hit with words that cut me right to my core.  

The woman had just lost her husband after a long battle with cancer.  Their insurance company had dropped them claiming that they had been delinquent with their premium payments.  The hospital was demanding payment of over $150,000 and was ready to sue her for payment.  She was forced to sell her house along with most of the furnishings, but she still owed $5000 and the hospital was being relentless.  She said that she didn’t blame the hospital for their aggressive ways because they were hurting financially too.  She just didn’t know where she was going to come up with that final $5000.  

I was close to tears partly because of the woman’s plight, but mostly out of anger with her insurance company, the hospital, and even the store’s owner.  I felt overwhelmed to help this woman, but knew I didn’t have $5000 to give to her.  I at least needed to know what the shop owner felt this quilt was worth.  The store’s owner stated the woman could possibly get a couple thousand dollars if she took it to the right antique store, but she wasn’t sure if any of the antique stores in that area would be willing to pay that much money.  She went on to say that she was trying to convince the woman to hold on to it as it was a family heirloom.  

I returned to Margaret and asked where she was living now that she had sold her home.  She hesitated to tell me, but finally said that she was living in a small storage unit along with the few belongings she had not sold.  I knew that this woman needed a lot more help than just paying off the hospital.  I asked Margaret to come with me that I was going to make sure she got the help she needed. 

We headed back to the RV park.  I found the manager and explained to him what was going on with the woman.  He graciously offered her a room to stay in and asked if she was capable of doing maid work in exchange for the room.  He also contacted the local Catholic Charities there.  The staff at Catholic Charities was able to get Margaret into their Catholic Housing Community and also got the hospital to reduce the amount she owed plus found her a job that wasn’t as taxing as the maid job was.  Margaret was able to keep her heirloom quilt and the few belongings that meant so much to her. 

It would be a few years later that I’d receive a package in the mail containing that beautiful quilt.  There was a note with the quilt that said “Margaret passed away peacefully in the night and that she considered me a daughter to her.”  I was grateful that I had caught bits and pieces of Margaret’s story and had decided to try to help her. 

And in my real life my story isn’t as dramatic, but I must say that God has a way of making our lives bits and pieces of other people’s lives.  I was doing some shopping for my elderly mother at the local Wal-Mart store one Sunday.  The checkout lanes were packed with people standing behind huge carts of groceries.  I kept walking down the aisle looking for the shortest checkout lane.  I finally chose one, but soon realized that I had made a mistake.  My line didn’t seem to be moving. 

I was starting to get frustrated thinking the customers were simply being slow.  I contemplated switching lanes, but remembered every time I had done that in the past the new lane would become the slow lane.  So I stuck it out and stood there impatiently while my legs cramped up on me causing me even more angst.  After an excruciating 15 minute wait I was the next in line.  It was then I realized it was the cashier who was sort of holding up the line with the way she was scanning items.  I wanted to give her a dirty look, but refrained figuring she had enough problems simply being a cashier at Wal-Mart.  I put all my items on the belt when suddenly I heard behind me “is that any good?”  I turned to find the man asking me if something in my basket was any good.  I looked into the basket and soon figured out that he was asking me about the mayonnaise made with olive oil.  I told him that I thought it tasted good, that you really couldn’t taste the olive oil, and that I figured it had to be a little healthier for me. 

We continued to talk about our love of olive oil as the cashier started checking me out.  The cashier quickly got into our conversation.  She said she just loved sautéing vegetables in olive oil and that now that she and her husband finally had a place she’ll be able to do that soon.  I asked her if she just moved to town and was bowled over when she said they had been living out of their car ever since they moved here.  She went on to say they had to move here because she had cancer and was getting treatments here.  I immediately asked if she needed any household items.  She said all they had were the clothes in their suitcases, but that she was so grateful to have a roof over her head.  I told her she needed to call Catholic Charities as we should be able to help her with some household items and possibly some food.  She thanked me over and over again for the information and said she’d call first thing Monday morning. 

As I walked to my car I felt the urge to cry thinking about what she and her husband must be going through.  Then I realized that without my knowing God had directed me to that line, had gotten the guy behind me to ask about bits and pieces of my life, and got the cashier to share bits and pieces of her life.  I prayed that she would follow through with a phone call to Catholic Charities and that we’d be able to help her and her husband get a foot up on life. 

We don’t always know when God is going to tap us on the shoulder and get us involved in other’s lives, but we need to not be afraid to share bits and pieces of our lives with our fellow human beings.  You just never know when what you have to share may change your life and the lives of others forever.  May God bless you all and let’s keep going the distance.

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