Saw rhubarb in the grocery store for the first time this year last weekend. And strawberries. For me, finally the beginning of Spring.
A lovely memory comes to mind every Spring when I see these items show up.
It was 1985…
I was living in North Dakota and had a part time job in a nursing facility where I was involved in the day to day care of the residents. One gentleman captured my heart from my very first day. Eddie. Eddie wasn’t an elderly man. As I recall, he was in his 40s at the time. Eddie was significantly disabled due to cerebral palsy and some other conditions. And Eddie was the happiest man I think I’ve ever met, to this day. Eddie couldn’t walk, sit up or move much without assistance, but always had a wonderful smile on his face. He couldn’t speak very well. That’s OK. I just listened more intently. And respected him by asking for a repeat when I needed it, rather than just nodding and smiling like a lot of others did. He never got frustrated with me for asking. I think he actually appreciated that I truly wanted to understand. I often spent my breaks sitting with Eddie, just chatting or being quiet together.
I was 18 years old.
Eddie’s sister, also named Barbara, came to visit and spend time, quiet, chatting, sometimes filled with laughter, always with joy, with him every Sunday. Sometimes during the week if she could, but it never failed that she was there every Sunday afternoon. One Sunday, Barbara arrived with a covered dish. Because, you see, this particular Sunday was Eddie’s birthday! After I made my rounds, attending to the rest of my “flock,” it was time to see Eddie. Since I was going on break, I stopped to visit a bit with Eddie and Barbara. Turns out that the covered dish held a strawberry rhubarb pie, Eddie’s all time favorite and always a special treat on his birthday. Eddie’s love of that pie was wonderfully evident! I shared with them that I had never had strawberry rhubarb pie before. Well, I’m sure you know what happened next. “Here!! Have a slice! I insist!” Eddie seconded this. 🙂
So, I did. And I have never had a better tasting slice of pie in my life. Not because it was absolutely delicious, which it was, but because of the love and simple joy of sharing it with such a sweet and beautiful man as Eddie, and with his wonderful sister, Barbara.
I left that job and moved away a few months later. Ever since, I can never see a stalk of rhubarb without thinking of that Sunday afternoon and a few minutes of time spent sharing a slice of pie and some true joy with Eddie. With my friend.
Happy Spring, my friends. Carry on.