This was a pickup mission. With the Norwegian Ladies Chorus of Seattle having their annual Fishcake & Meatball Dinner on March 6th, one of the chorus members had a friend who had offered items for the live and silent auction parts of the event. All I knew going in was that we were heading to a house, somewhere in North Ballard, I would lug some boxes out to the car and off we’d go.
If it weren’t for this rendezvous, I probably would have never set foot inside that cute little brick home or met its resident. My wife Victoria & I approached the door and a friendly voice welcomed us into her home. Her name was Heidi and after three hours of wrapping donation items, she was finishing up the last box of things she had so carefully packed. In all, there were four boxes full of collectibles I was surprised she was donating–clocks, collectible Hummels, gold-plated plates and such. She explained the disorderly appearance of her home by saying that she was moving to a local retirement center. Heidi estimated that she had given away around 95% of her stuff in preparation for the move.
As she carefully wrapped another item for placement in the box, she began to tell the story of why she was moving.
It began several months ago, when she and her husband went down to the beach to celebrate his 75th birthday. Shortly after they came, he drove to the store and was making a turn on to 15th Avenue NW when he had a massive heart attack. As in, by the time he was part way around the corner, he was gone! His car crashed into a Metro bus, medics were called but, when they arrived, they found no pulse or heartbeat. After working to revive him for over an hour, they realized he was gone for good.
As she told this story, Heidi realized that this accident had happened six weeks ago today.
In that short amount of time, her entire world had been turned upside down. Life had already become quite challenging. She was slightly hunched over and needed a cane to maneuver around safely. Because of a liver condition, Heidi explained that even though she was in pain all the time, she couldn’t take any pain medication.
Yet, she was smiling, pleasant, excited to see us and discuss what was happening in her life. She realized that, had she been with her husband that fateful day, she probably wouldn’t have survived. Now, she found herself with a house full of stuff and no family to share it with–no kids, no relatives nearby and their only niece died a few years ago. She literally was completely alone in this world.
As she pushed herself through to the next phase, giving things away and packing what was left, Heidi was dealing with the recent tragedy as best she could. She wrapped up the final item, we taped the boxes shut and I began carrying them out to the car. In between my trips, I could hear Heidi talk about her church and her faith that has kept her going. I can’t help but think that it would be extremely easy to become cynical and bitter after hearing what took place in Heidi’s life, but she would have nothing to do with that kind of lifestyle.
She was happy to be alive, to live a life that would be pleasing to God and to carry on with whatever he had planned for her.
I was lucky enough to meet this remarkable woman, to spend an hour or so with her, chatting and getting to know her.
Thanks for the life reminder, Heidi. We tend to forget that everything can change in an instant and that really need to cherish every single day for the gift it is. Good luck in your new adventure.