Grandma’s Cake Cures All

, , | Germany | Hopeless | April 18, 2017

(This is actually a happy story, not an angry one! The fairly new cafe/bakery kitchen I work at is mostly run by young, enthusiastic but non-professional workers. Our boss has encouraged us to try out new recipes we find interesting, and if they sell well they’re added to the menu. On this day I’ve baked an apple and fruit cake that I’ve learnt from my grandma. A customer comes in early, while I’m transferring it onto a plate for the display case, and gasps.)

Customer: “This smell! What is that smell?”

Me: “Probably this fresh-baked cake!” *holding up the plate*

Customer: “I smells like my grandma’s kitchen!”

Me: “Funny enough, it is a recipe from MY grandma.”

(The customer buys a slice of the cake and coffee and returns his dishes when he’s done.)

Customer: “It even tastes like my grandma’s cake. Incredible. Did you steal my grandmother?” *laughs*

Me: *also laughing* “Yep, we have her in the kitchen right now, making more cakes.”

Customer: “Oh, she would’ve probably loved doing that. Sadly, she passed away a few years ago.”

Me: “Oh, gosh, I’m sorry—”

Customer: “No, you couldn’t have known. You made me very happy with this cake today! Thank you!”

(The customer has become a regular, returning once a week to buy a piece of the cake — which has also become a staple in our menu. I have by now given him the recipe, with my boss’ permission, but he still comes in ‘for the feeling of having grandma bake it.’ I love this guy.)

Voicing Her Thoughts At The Right Time

, , | Greensburg, PA, USA | Hopeless | April 15, 2017

(I have not been having the greatest week. First my car starts throwing out warning lights, and then I get word from my mother that a close family friend, my brother’s godfather, has died unexpectedly.)

Me: “I should really go to the funeral, but I’m not sure I want to take my car out on the highway since it’s been acting up…”

Roommate: “Why don’t you take mine? I got it checked out before I drove home for my grandmother’s funeral a couple months ago, and I’m not going anywhere this weekend except for choir practice.”

Me: “Awesome. Thanks!”

(I get to the church where the funeral is being held and hug my brother’s godmother, who has always been “Aunt” to me and my siblings, although we’re not related. I’m sitting beside her while she looks at the program for the funeral, when all of a sudden she bursts out:)

Aunt: “I told them I didn’t want that hymn, but there it is! [Uncle] hated that hymn! I don’t want it sung at his funeral! What are we going to do now?”

(Suddenly I realize. I have my roommate’s car, which means I have her music books, jncluding the piece she sang for her grandmother’s funeral, which I helped her learn.)

Me: “I think I have something I could put in, [Aunt], If that would be okay with you?”

(It is okay with her, and with the organist, and with everyone at the funeral if I could judge by the number of people wiping their eyes. But the best compliment I got is what my aunt told me afterwards.)

Aunt: “You always loved to sing when you were a little girl, and your voice was okay, but it wasn’t anything terribly special. At least, that’s what I thought. Your uncle always used to tell me, ‘Wait and see. Wait until she grows up. It will be something really amazing then.’ And he was right.”

(That’s when I cried.)

A Thoughtful Gesture By Principal

, , | USA | Hopeless | April 14, 2017

(During my senior year of high school, my mother passed away from stage-four lung cancer on the day before Thanksgiving. Since her passing, it has been a really difficult time for my family and with the holidays being right around the corner makes it a lot harder for us money wise. My mother was well known around my school district for being on the school board and volunteering within the community so during her battle and after her passing, my school has been nothing but great to my family. During the final class on the day before school lets out for Christmas break, I am called down to the principal’s office and when I see my dad sitting in the office waiting for me, I am not really sure what to expect, until the principal hands me a gift bag.)

Principal: “I know this has been a really tough time for your family and I wanted to give you my deepest condolences once again for your loss. [My Name] is a wonderful student and your family is well-respected within our district. We wanted to do something a little bit special for your family for the holidays.

(I open the bag and see a bunch of Christmas cards, gift cards for different restaurants and stores, and a bunch of Christmas cookies and candy inside, and look back at my principal speechless.)

Principal: “Your family has been a wonderful addition to our district and we couldn’t appreciate everything your mother did for us. Some of your teachers and other staff members in this school have each bought a gift card to a restaurant or store to help make this difficult time a little easier for you. I have a list of the staff members who helped contribute and I will read the names to you.”

(As the principal reads the list names of everyone, my father and I looked at the gift cards and each of them are worth more than 100 dollars. When he finishes, my dad and I are both close to tears and I am too speechless to even speak.)

Dad: “I don’t even know how to thank you for what you’re doing for my family.”

Principal: “You don’t have to thank me. [My Name] is a wonderful student and all of her teachers love having her in their classes. And [Mother] will be missed by everyone in this district. This is our way for giving back to you for all that you have done for our school. If there is anything else we can do for your family, please don’t hesitate to ask. We are here for you.”

(My dad and I left the principal’s office a couple minutes later in tears. It was one of the nicest things anyone has ever done to us during an extremely difficult time. My father wasn’t sure how he was going to get through Christmas after the funeral expenses and the gift cards have helped us a lot!)

Living In The Stories We Tell

| Chicago, IL, USA | Hopeless | April 10, 2017

Hey, y’all. I posted the story ‘Making Sure the Survivors are Surviving,’ about my amazing Grandma.

She passed away a few days ago, and I was reading through ‘Not Always Hopeless’ to try and cheer myself up when I found the story I’d posted about her. It felt like getting a little bit of her back, and it was the best I’ve felt since getting the news.

Thank you, thank you, for making things a little less hopeless.

Turn Up For That Red-Letter Day

, , | Wheaton, IL, USA | Hopeless | January 28, 2017

(I was adopted as a baby, but never had much curiosity about my birth family. At 27, I begin to have some medical issues, and it soon becomes apparent that I will need to make contact, and maybe my curiosity wins out a little. I find the address of my birth mother and decide to write her a letter. It sits on my kitchen table for three days before I feel like I have the courage to mail it. I finally decide to try, and grab it as I go out the door. I get to the vestibule of my apartment building, and our mail lady is there, filling boxes.)

Mail Lady: “Hey, A6, how’s it going?”

(Even though we’ve only lived there 6 months, she is the sweetest, friendliest woman and always jokingly calls people by their apartment numbers.)

Me: “Hi! It’s um… going good!”

Mail Lady: “Nothing good for you today, it looks like probably a bunch of junk… Oh, hey, have you got a letter there? I can take it!”

(She holds her hand out for it, but I don’t give it up. I promptly start crying. She smiles gently.)

Mail Lady: “Not quite ready?”

Me: “It’s… it’s a letter to my birth mother. I was going to go to the mailbox to see if I was strong enough to drop it in.”

(She gently puts her hand on mine.)

Mail Lady: “Now you don’t have to.”

(I look at her uncertainly.)

Mail Lady: “I’m a sign, A6. Me being here right at this exact moment is the sign that you’re supposed to mail that letter.”

(She gently takes it from me and I let her. I’m speechless, all I can do is wipe my tears.)

Mail Lady: *smiling at me as she leaves* “They’re gonna love you.”

(I went out to my car and cried for ten minutes. Reuniting with my birth family has been an emotional rollercoaster. In five weeks I am going to meet my birth father for the first time. Thank you, Mail Lady, for making all this possible for me… Without you I might never have mailed that letter.)

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