I met some amazing people today while out in Shadow Oaks, and I wanted to share their story with you.
I knocked a door that was opened by a small, kindly man, who listened to my sales pitch, and then told me, "I have to give you a cake. I bake friendship cakes for all my friends." He invited me in, and while wrapping up a cake for me to take, he began to tell me a story of his youth, culminating in a flight on a B-25 over the Arizona desert when he was a twelve year old boy. He then told me about life as a foster parent to over 127 children who had spent time in his and his wife's care over their 64 years together. They showed me newspaper clippings of their story as once captured in a newspaper years ago. I had to know what would prompt such dedication to help so many young lives, so I asked why.
The wife told me who she was born in Paris, France, and when she was six, the world was thrown into war. As the Germans began to bomb Paris, children were evacuated by trains in the dark, scattering them out of the countryside. They were loaded into trucks and distributed into villages in groups of 15. She spent the next two years living in a house located next to a Gestapo headquarters. In the basement the family hid downed Allied pilots to smuggle back to Allied positions, and she was taught never to speak, for fear of attracting the attention of their frightful neighbors. When the war ended, the children were returned to Paris. Only 3 of those fifteen children in her village had parents to return to, and she returned to find only her mother. Her mother soon after married an American serviceman and they moved to California where she grew up dreaming of becoming a nun. She fell in love with a boy instead as sometimes happens to aspiring clergy, but she always knew that her destiny was to help children who had no one else.
Now in their 80's, their child rearing days are long behind them, but she still knits gifts for orphans and great-grandchildren that are part of their legacy.
When it was time for me to leave, she gave me two teddy bears for my daughters. They were wrapped in hand knit blankets, and tucked into hand knit drawstring bags. She mentioned how a great-grandchild who visited recently used the bag as a hat.
When I got home, I gave the bags to my daughters, and found that wearing them as a hat is quite the latest in toddler fashion. As my accompanying picture illustrates. Running into two people who lived through some of the worst the world can dish out, and living with such incredible generosity and kindness was truly a gift from the universe for me today. And so I wanted to share it with you.