Small Stories for a Big World: October

Most every morning, I leave for work with a lunch that Garnet made for me.

She skips a day here and there—when I’m meeting someone for lunch, for instance. Otherwise, I walk out of the house with my black leather briefcase, a travel mug of coffee and my red lunch bag filled with a morning snack, the official lunch and an afternoon snack.

For my morning snack, I know to expect apple slices and peanut butter. When it comes to the main event for lunch, that changes from day to day.

Most days, it’s a deluxe sandwich that Garnet has clearly put a lot of care into making. On the slice that gets mayonnaise, she carefully spreads it smoothly all the way to the edges, so that every bite includes mayonnaise. Without looking, I know that the same can be said of mustard on the other slice of bread. If there are pickle slices, they have been carefully laid out so that every bite has pickle.

Unless I have to eat at my desk to get everything done, I take my lunch into the break room, where I eat while reading a book. One of the women I often see eating her lunch in the break room once commented that my wife must really love me to make me such a nice sandwich every day.

“Yep,” I said and took another bite.

I make a point to thank Garnet before leaving each morning, and, from time to time, I will send her an email after lunch to let her know that she has made a particularly noteworthy creation. You know how it is, though, when something becomes part of the fabric of your life, it’s easy to forget just how big a gift it is.

Every so often, something will remind me. It might be, on a really busy day, watching others hustle by on their way to hopping in their cars and going to pick up something. “Sure glad that’s not me,” I think, as I reach into the red bag to see what awaits me. Another day, I might think about Garnet’s gift as I’m emptying the containers from the lunch bag after I come home from work.

I do my best to give others in the family day-to-day gifts. I won’t make a special trip to the store for mustard or a carton of eggs, but I most certainly will make a trip to make sure that Doobins doesn’t run out of milk or that Garnet and Sparkle Girl have enough half-and-half for their morning coffee.

We go through half-and-half at a crisp clip. Seeing us pour half-and-half into our coffee one day, my sister Lisa commented that she didn’t know you were allowed to use that much in a cup. Absolutely, we said. She has since joined the club.

Sparkle Girl and Doobins give gifts, too.

Whenever a family member leaves, Doobins will say good-bye before the person walks out the door. After the person leaves, he will count to five, open the door and call “good-bye” one more time as the person heads toward the car. It’s a good feeling to have him call after you as you head out into the world.

When I asked him about why he started, he said, “My instincts told me to say good-bye one more time.”

Sparkle Girl’s gifts include checking to see how your day went and baking surprise treats. One day it might be blueberry cobbler. Another day it might be coconut cake.

Perfectly spread mayonnaise, bonus good-byes, unexpected desserts—my life has a lot of extras to be grateful for.


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