So for her birthday I was going to take Kristi to pick out some sunglasses and then take her to lunch.
I got there right before noontime meds. While Kristi was in line to get her meds I sat outside and chatted with Paula, another client at the facility, as she sat at a picnic table smoking. Paula was missing her front two teeth and she would blow the smoke through that gap. We talked about her getting a check from an insurance company who contacted her saying they had a policy on her mother who had died twelve years previously. Paula said she didn't think it was a scam. But from what I was hearing I worried for her and told her to be careful.
Kristi came out with Paul, her boyfriend, and I invited him to come along. Excited, Paul went back in to let the staff know that he would be with me.
Kristi wanted to shop for sunglasses at WalMart. We arrived and I pushed her wheelchair into the store and toward the woman's accessories section. We found the sunglasses.
While Kristi couldn't see the sunglasses she did have preferences. She wanted them dark. She liked them big. And she wanted to feel rhinestones on them. The size and darkness were functional choices. Strong sunlight bothers her eyes. The rhinestones, I discovered, were a tactile thing. She couldn't see them but she could run her fingers along the glasses and feel them. That's what attracted her to them. The feel made the glasses different and distinctive and, thus, fashionable.
After trying on a few pairs we found ones she liked. Compliments all around on how good they looked.
Before leaving I asked, since we were at the store, if Kristi needed anything else. The home takes a van to WalMart every Friday so that the residents can shop. But Kristi rarely gets to go because her wheelchair takes up too much room. So being at WalMart was an opportunity for her.
Kristi said she had run out of soda. She likes Diet Pepsi and Vanilla Coke. She also asked if there was Vanilla Diet Dr. Pepper. I didn't think that even existed. But we checked and couldn't find any.
(Later I found out that there is a Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper. Only in America would such a drink exist.)
We settled on the Diet Pepsi and Vanilla Coke.
As I was getting the soda Kristi expressed the worry that if people saw us walking into her home with the soda some of the residents would come and steal it from her. Because she is blind Kristi is particularly vulnerable to theft. Her main defense is hiding stuff under her bed.
We went to lunch, the three of us, at Subway and talked about the situation. There is, apparently, a side door into the home. Perhaps, Kristi and Paul suggested, if we enter through the side door we can get the soda in without anyone seeing us and get it safely stored under Kristi's bed. Sounds like a plan, I say.
So that's what we do. The Great Soda Caper. We pull up to the home. We get Kristi's into her wheelchair. Paul and I carry the soda. We head for the side door.
No one sees us enter. We get to Kristi's room unnoticed. Success! I get on my knees and slide the soda under Kristi's bed.
And I'm thinking. It's a weird thing, this following Jesus. You find yourself in some pretty interesting places.
Like on your knees hiding soda under a bed in an assisted-living facility for your friend who is blind and in a wheelchair.
I get up and wish Kristi another "Happy Birthday." I shake Paul's hand goodbye.
I hug Kristi goodbye.
"I love you," she says.
"I love you too."