As Luck Would Have It
Today, I want to tell you all a little story. I suggest that you make a cuppa tea and get ready to read something special. Yes, go ahead and make a cup of tea and return to this blog post.
I'm not going anywhere, so go ahead, you'll be glad you did.
Twenty years ago, I was an emerging textile artist with two kids at home, I had more ambition than money and I was on my way to one of my first quilt teacher engagements in Colville, WA. I was 36 years old and living in Grand Forks, B.C. at the time and we struggled financially because teaching our children at home meant no second income. I knew that I had some sort of quilting talent, but I didn't really know then, what it was or how to make it into a business. I had left my Hubby at home being 'Home School Teacher' for day with our sons and I had his blessing. So I set off to cross the border into the U.S. I was right on time, but slightly excited as I pulled into the U.S./Canada Border crossing.
I took a deep breath and rolled down my window. I looked up to the baby face of a new Border Patrol officer. He smiled and asked me my destination. I explained I was heading to Colville to teach a quilting class. He came out and walked around my car with one of those under car mirror things and asked me to step out please. I got out of my car.
He asked me what was in my bins stacked high inside my car. I told him that as a quilting teacher, I carry lots of samples and supplies for teaching. He asked me to pull out one box. He opened the door for me. I pulled out the nearest one that was the heaviest. It thunked to the concrete with quite a loud "Clunk sound" and caused everyone to look over at me. By then, I was really uncomfortable and asked the Border Officer is there was a problem.
He didn't reply, he was speaking on his phone. It was a lovely, but chilly late October morning and I turned to reach down onto the floor of my car. When he asked me not do that. I froze. I explained it was chilly and was only getting my sweater. He pulled me aside and explained that he needed me to pull my car into a bay across from the entry and that he had ordered a search of my car. I was instructed to not make a scene, simply do as he requested. I gasped, got in. The officer walked beside my car while I pulled it into the bay. My bin was left sitting on the pavement I was so distracted by the whole event.
I saw in the rear view mirror, two officers were searching my bin and looking suspiciously at the contents. They decided nothing was wierd and they brought it back to my car but sat it down on the pavement and began to remove everything from my car. One officer stood beside me as his team searched. He asked if I had any identification to prove where I was going. I thought about it and then replied that I had been called by the guild's workshop coordinator from Colville and I didn't have any written documentation to show, not even a phone number of the guild hall where the ladies would be already setting up for my class. I told him that this search was going to make me late. I asked if I could use his phone to call the coordinator's number, which I did have in my possession. He complied and we went into a building where I used the phone. No one was home. I guessed that the coordinator would also be at the hall by now. He smiled weakly nodding his head and we went back outside. They searched everything, in fact, the floor mat didn't behave well again in that car. They removed all sorts of components under the mat in the trunk and everything tiny thing from my car. Nothing suspicious was found and the officers went back inside the building and the Border Officer thanked me for my patience. I was now running REALLY late.
As I pulled away, 'welcomed' into the United States I was frustrated and just had no way to contact the coordinator to let them know I was delayed. I drove on. I was young enough to think that a 2 hour late arrival of a quilt teacher would be frustrating to the class participants but that my true story would make things better and we'd get through my class on Applique for Crazy Quilting.
I was driving as fast as the speed limit allows and it was a nice drive through farming areas of Washington's Northeast corner of the state. When suddenly, I felt a hard pull to the right and the car began flopping along like a rag doll badly abused! I pulled over on the shoulder and got out to inspect what had happened. I had a flat tire. This was normally not a problem but I'd have to take all the car contents out because the car was overloaded. I reasoned that hand cranking the car up so I could change the tire was likely not a good idea. I couldn't believe my luck!
I looked around the fields to see if I could get some help. Clouds were beginning to gather and it looked like rain was about to fall. The wind had begun to blow and it was actually getting cold outside. I locked my car, grabbed my purse and put on the only other light coat I had with me. I struck out to the nearest farmhouse that was set back from the road, but was almost out of view. I realized that my tire blew in one of the desolute parts of the county.
After a really good walk, I entered the yard of a farm that was not working anymore. Old machinery sat waiting with several years worth of grass growing up between their tires. An old dog, came out of a dog house by the door, wagging his tail. My feelings of the unknown warmed as I reached down to say "hello" to the farm dog. I walked to the door of an attached porch and saw a message stuck to the door window. "Gone to get that bull, be back for supper" This house might be some old folks who couldn't help I thought, but I still knocked on the door. My light coat was not helping me much in the cold winds of that October day.
I knocked again, the farm dog still happy to see me, looked up expectantly. I heard a clasp move like it was being unlocked and an old man, bent over and wearing overalls, opened the door. He blinked a bit and smiled "Hello young lady. What can I do for you?" he asked. I explained that my car is loaded down and has a flat tire, its too heavy for me to crank up so to change the tire.
The old man opened the door wider and invited me inside to talk about this 'dilemma we have' he said. I stepped inside the porch of the type of old fashioned farmhouse that would have come right out of "Old House" magazine. It smelled of cinnamon and old clothing. But this porch was sparkly clean and tidy with boots in a row on the floor. Mr. Parker, muttering to his wife, said 'he didn't know what to do about that' as he opened the next door and stepped inside. He reached down to hold back another old dog who was barking and wagging his tail, grey whisker's smiled up at me.
I was welcomed by Mrs. Parker who gave me hug "Where you from sweetie?" As I explained my problem, she poured a cup of tea and slid it across the table towards me. I warmed my hands around its hot sides and relaxed. Once they knew what my problem was, they chuckled and explained I was not the first to come to their door looking for aid.
Mrs. Parker was bent over as well but you could tell these two old folks were stilling holding their own on the inside of the farm house. It was a warm, floor creaking kind of house I had dreamed of owning one day. Complete with plastic over top of the table cloth of lovely embroidery. The curtains were light weight cotton which resembled tea towels and the windows were spotless. The kitchen in this farm house was big and the table quite large with a pile of newspapers on one end of the table. The kitchen had a lovely old wood cook stove with polished chrome parts and a pot of soup was cooking on the stove. I was helped by a couple of true farming stock, you know the kind that just keep giving.
I handed them the note I saw stuck to the window of their front door. They smiled and said "OK, now we know we have to do" they both smiled at me. They explained that their son had gone to the next county to buy a bull. Their son had been a doctor and when he couldn't arranged proper home care for them, so he'd left his practice to come home and farm again. As the morning progressed to lunch time, I had nothing else to do but wait. We had moved into the living room where two lazy boy chairs sat across from a big couch. I sat on the couch and looked around. We talked for hours. I heard their stories of farming in the dirty thirties with their parents and how Mrs. Parker almost died giving birth to their only son, the one who was out buying a bull today.
Before lunch time, Mr. Parker came back inside to ask if I would ride on his tractor to my car. I looked a little startled "What are you talking about?" I had thought him incapable of assisting and had resigned myself to waiting for their son to help me. He looked up and frowned. "Mrs. Parker do you have another winter jacket for this gal?" I was given a nice warm wool jacket complete with mits and a hat. When I explained I'd be OK, Mrs. Parker pulled back the curtain and said " Well, sweetie, while we've been talking, its begun to snow" her face warmed me and I realized my workshop had been cancelled by fate. I had no idea what awful things the ladies in Colville must think of me, being a "No Show."
Mr. Parker laughed as we bumped along in a rythum I remembered from childhook sitting on the big wheel fender and holding on for dear life. It was indeed snowing and enough was on the ground to make me want to just get home as soon as possible. Mr. Parker crawled under my car to attach cables. I thought of how much of an interference this was in their life and I felt bad to have all this happen in one morning!
Horns honked as the cars and trucks passed by spraying us with slush. Mr. Parker cursed as he had to get down on the ground again to do more 'attaching" and I looked around at where I was and that I should call my husband when we got back to the farm house. We bumped along even slower as the wind whipped up snow flurries along their gravel road. I kept an eye our for my car, dangling on two cables attached underneath and then lifted.
My car safely sat while the snow continued. I had lunch with the Parker's expecting that soon their son would be home soon and I'd be on my way. I'd been so glad that these people were the nice and friendly types and not something else. We discussed lifestyle's over lunch and that's when we got to what was taking me into the United States. I explained with some trepidition that I had been booked for a workshop today in Colville. Mrs. Parker eyes brightened and she said that she had been a member of the guild a long time ago now.
She was sorry that she hadn't kept up with their activities for many years and didn't believe she'd be of any help. "But I have some things upstairs that maybe you could use for quilting, would you like them?" her face gleamed with delight. I wondered what sort of stuff she'd be thinking I could use. Later on, her husband brought down two boxes. He sat them down near my side in the livingroom and then he joined his wife on his lazy boy chair. I looked across the livingroom at two of the dearest people you could ever hope to meet. Mr. Parker had picked up the newspaper and Mrs. Parker urged me to open the boxes. She couldn't remember what was in them, it had been so long since she parceled them up.
As we looked inside those boxes and Mrs. Parker explained how each scrap had come to be there, I began to realise that my loss had become a success. Even though I missed the workshop completely I had met these wonderful, kind people who fed and warmed me up like I was a lost child. I let go of the anxiousness I felt about not keeping my committment and it was OK.
Around 3:30 their son, George drove up the driveway and we waited for him to come inside. Mr. Parker was taking a nap on his chair and Mrs. Parker was happily telling me all about how she had parceled up her sewing things and had been giving them away to friends and quilters. She announced that it was too late in the day to travel now, I should stay overnight. I was little concerned about that, I called my hubby ealier in the day. Now, when I called he said that he'd heard that the CBC Radio had announced whiteout blizzard conditions for our area. They predicted snowfall to increase overnight he explained. "You should stay if their offering sweetie" I stayed indeed.
I met their son, who pushed my car all by himself into their workshop and fixed my tire. I watched him close up the workshop and walk across the yard in the snow. He was a mountain of a man, big broad shoulders and tall too. We ate dinner that night with laughter and conversation into the night. I slept in the room they kept for emergencies! It was a delightful old bed frame with one mattress that was quite comfortable. I remembered drifting off to sleep with nothing but silence in my ears. Mrs. Parker even had a spare nightie and housecoat for me. At breakfast, the Parker's were as nice as pie, making me a packed lunch and their son packed my boxes on the only available space, the passeger seat. He chuckled and said "I swear this God's way of keeping my parents in lots of company. You are the 21 stranded person they had helped over the last few years!" he smiled and slapped his thigh. I was so grateful that the Parker's had been there. I was able to get home and the quilting guild in Colville was not upset. Apparantly, it was their regular meeting date and no loss was expressed.
Some three years later, as I was packing for another move I opened up the two boxes, thinking that I'd now have to take this stuff to the thrift store. I opened the boxes to eventually find lace, ribbons, thread and yarn rolled into big balls. Being a crazy quilter, these supplies just went into my stash and were moved again to a new town. It was some 7 years later that I decided to start making a crocheted throw for the livingroom. I cracked open the first ball of Mrs. Parker's yarn and began crocheting with the wool donated to me memories flooding me of that snowy day in Washinton. Days later I arrived at the end of the first ball of yarn. I noticed it had been wrapped around some green paper. I picked up a piece of US currency. I unfolded a $100 bill! We were quite broke at the time and finding that $100 bill was another helpful deed done by the Parker's.
After our boys were in bed that night, my husband and I rewrapped the Parker yarn balls wanting to know if this $100 had been a fluke. We laughed with tears in our eyes as we unwrapped all 11 balls of yarn to find a $100 bill wrapped inside each one!
By this time, we were not living anywhere near the US border and had long lost any contact details of the Parker's. That money was very helpful my family but also to me as it start my Good Earth Quilting fund. Mrs. Parker had been a one child Mother, a woman who didn't have daughters to pass on their love of crafting to or grandchildren as her son was unmarried and was then in his fifties. I wondered that perhaps this was the special luck that I experienced that day that started out with a "clunk sound."
Luck is what happens when you see the best in people. Luck is that unseen, fleeting moment in time when all the best of good vibes collide together in a Karmic collision of good intentions.
I've been blessed with good luck and great intentions and would love to know what you think of this story.
I'm sure that you'd love a giveaway based on "LUCK" and so my blogger friend Christine Barnsley in the UK and blogs over at Patchwork Allsorts. has an awesome giveaway that I've entered too.
Happy Quilting everyone!