Monday, October 18, 2010

Life Ring

Today is Monday which means I'm posting an article written for the newspaper, one year ago this week. I began writing those articles...I believe it was supposed to be four in all, when I moved here to France. When I wrote this article a year ago, I was on article 29. Today, deadline day, I'm writing number 70. I don't know what the subject will be today. Any ideas?

Last week I arrived home to find cardboard package, exuberantly bound in duct tape, sitting in my living room. It had obviously come a long way and this wasn’t just some itty-bitty package. This box had some heft! My name was right there on the shipping label, so I dug in. I’ve only received one other package here and once again it felt like a grand occasion.

I slashed the tape with my best kitchen knife (my mother would kill me if she saw me do that) and the first thing I found inside was a typewritten note. In it, a couple from the Wittenburg area introduced themselves and explained that they read my articles each week in the newspaper  and wanted to send me a package of things I had mentioned in a previous article. Things that I missed that I couldn’t find in France. They said it was an early Thanksgiving present.

Please pause here…..because I sure did. I was absolutely floored! Literally. I sat on my old terra cotta tiles, paring knife in one hand and this note in the other, staring at the page and shaking my head. I eventually gathered my wits about me and realized that I had a package to open!

I tore threw the crumpled newspaper that protected my treasures and eventually uncovered 2 bottles of molasses, 2 tins of baking soda, 6 boxes of Mac and Cheese, 2 bags of brown sugar, 1 bottle of ranch dressing, 2 boxes of Bisquick, 3 jars of Skippy and several containers of spices! I was squealing…yes, I think I can definitely call it squealing…with delight and arranged all the items in a little tableau on the floor so I could admire them.

On the outside of the box was plastered the international shipping label…a mass of paper, in triplicate, which discloses the value of the items and the dollar amount that was required to send the package. Now, I know it’s extraordinarily expensive to send a package here, which is precisely why it never happens. But I had to look. The shipping total was $110!

Time for another pause…...a really long one. I just received a package of some of my most needed or wanted things, all involving food mind you, from a couple of Wisconsinites whom I do not know and who do not know me. They spent a lot of time and a lot of money to do this thing and the only reason I can come up with is plain and simple kindess.

In last week's article I finished with a mention of the little lifeboat that always travels beside me. This wonderful thing that happened to me is a prime example of the life rings that are continually thrown to me. Always.

Several weeks ago, during an on-line conversation with my editor at the newspaper, I said that I often feel that I’m in some sort of weird, one-sided relationship. I write every week about the details of my life, some of them trivial and some more significant. I write about the good days and the days when I feel absolutely finished. And at least a few people in Wisconsin read my articles, and have for 29 weeks now. At least, I hope they do. Anyway, those people know me and I know absolutely nothing about them. I don’t know their names and I don’t know their stories, which are most assuredly as interesting or much more interesting than mine.  They are strangers to me and it just seems a little off-balance.

But then this package came. It could have been a book of matches or a coloring book; it wouldn’t have mattered. But it tipped the scales a little bit. I don’t know this couple…. yet…. but I know of them now, I know their names, and a little something about them. This package delivered to me here in France was more than flavors, carbohydrates and proteins. It was a box of good-will and thoughtfulness. And appreciated more than I can ever explain in writing.  I sent a thank you note immediately. But I wanted to also say thank you here. Because this gesture was a significant detail of my day…a good day…. and it was anything but trivial.

Je vous remercie, Monsieur et Madame Block. C’etait tellement sympa. Vous êtes très gentils et vous m’avez donné beaucoup de plaisir.



  1. That was a lovely thing for them to have done.

  2. Delana, I can completely envision you sitting cross legged on the floor, enjoying every second of the "Grand Opening"!
    I think that, through your writing, people can get a little glimpse of who you are and what you must be like in person. And then knowing how much delight there would be in a gift from home!
    For all the "non-knowers" out there, I can tell them that any person who gets to be your friend, is, indeed, the better and luckier for it!

    Love you lots, my friend!


  3. Fly...yes it was. I need to remember to do something like that for somebody else someday!

    Jody-if you go over the top like that, everybody's going to KNOW that I'm paying you to write nice comments about me! But bless your heart. Truly. And good friends are always, always a two-way street. Gros Bisous, Jody.

  4. What a generous gift! A package from home is the best thing to receive for anyone living far away.
    (my heart would have melted when I saw the mac & cheese!)


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