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Chocolate chips

In August of 1999, we moved from Grand Junction to Golden, Colorado. We rented a three bedroom house which was much larger than the tiny apartment we left behind.

The new house had everything we wanted—a large yard, a garage, two bathrooms, a dishwasher, and friendly neighbors next door. The only thing missing was a washer and dryer. The house had a laundry room in the basement, with hookups. We couldn’t afford a washer and dryer at the time, so we did our laundry at my in-laws home, about 15 minutes away.

Aidan was newly two and Ryley was just beginning to crawl. They generated mounds of laundry, so it seemed I was always making the trip to do laundry. It was nice to visit and see family, but it got very tiresome hauling baskets around in the car.

One early fall afternoon, shortly after lunch, I was sitting in the rocker with Ryley, trying to lull him to sleep. Aidan was playing on the floor. It was quiet. The nice next door neighbors were moving out. They bought a house in Bailey, a small town in the foothills. He was an EMT, she was in medical school at CU-Denver. We were happy for them and wished them well.

As I rocked, a thought popped into my head: “Buy cookies for them.”

Huh? Where did that come from?

I continued rocking Ryley. The last thing I wanted to do was interrupt naptime to go get cookies for the neighbors.

“Buy cookies now,” the thought persisted. And persisted. I rocked and rocked, talked to Aidan, turned on the TV—did anything to stop the nagging feeling I should just go buy cookies and give them to our dear soon-to-be-ex neighbors.

After about an hour, with Ryley snoozing away and Aidan rubbing her eyes in fatigue, I gave up. I loaded them in the car and drove to a Cookies By Design shop near downtown Golden, right across the street from the Coors Brewery. Ryley was still asleep, so I had to sling him high on my shoulder as I went inside. The cookies were more expensive than I anticipated, so I only bought four. They were fairly large and chocolate chipped. I paid and left. Now what?

I drove home. As I pulled into the driveway, I noticed the neighbors had a lot of friends and family over, helping them with their own trucks. They were carrying things out of the house like an army. I took the kids and the cookies inside our house, wrote a note thanking them for being such good neighbors for the short time we knew them, and wished them well. Then I took the cookies over.

They were surprised but happy to have a treat. They thanked me and as I turned to go, he said, “Hey, do you want our washer and dryer? They work. We don’t need them and we’ve been trying to figure out what to do with them.”

Of course I did. Of course. I was near tears.

The dryer was already on the truck. Three guys carried it down to our basement and hooked it up. Then they got the washing machine, which hadn’t been loaded yet, and installed it next to the dryer.

I offered to pay them something, anything.

They declined, saying the cookies were their favorite and one of the things they were going to miss about Golden was the cookie shop. How did I know?

The washer and dryer moved with us when we bought our current home. They continued working well even up until we were given my late Grandma Alice’s washer and dryer after she passed away two years ago. We listed the old washer and dryer duo on Craigslist, for free. They went to a young family who were excited to leave the laundromat behind.

The Cookies By Design shop is no longer there. We lost touch with the old neighbors. It’s been more than eight years since that afternoon of cookies and grateful tears, but I still get goosebumps when I think about the many provisions in my life, gifts given freely and generously, and often when I least expect it.

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