I had the pleasure of visiting with Raisa on Tuesday. She is such a delightful little lady. Rita called and asked her when a good time to visit would be, and that I wanted to take her to lunch as a treat. She insisted that we visit at her place first. She wanted to show me some remodeling/repairing that she had done to her place, and I was very happy to oblige.
Her home is really a duplex, with her side being the larger of the two. It is brick exterior with a corrugated tin roof. She has put up a pre-fab concrete fence between her yard and the neighbors because that lady has gone to live with her daughter and only drunks, addicts, and homeless people bother to go there now. She was fearful of them trampling her flowers and garden, and just hanging around her door...so...the fence made for "good neighbors".
She has a beautiful garden filled with roses, mint, vegetables, and other plants too numerous to name. There is a quaint brick pathway from her door to the back of the garden where there is a wild patch of Siberian strawberries. It was my first experience with "Siberian" strawberries and I was very interested in how they looked and tasted. They are much smaller than any other strawberry I have ever seen, but they are very sweet, and quite tasty. She bent down and picked me two handfuls of them and I devoured them right there. She said a woman visited one time and just threw out a handful of seeds and because of the remarkable soil in Ukraine, they grew there and have been coming up every year since.
She proudly showed off the new wall paper in her bedroom and in the living area. The paper in the bedroom features a large panel with a forest scene which is hung behind where her bed sits. In the living space, there is a very pale green paper on the ceiling and on all of the walls. The ceiling has a leaf-like pattern where on the walls there is more of a striped, almost bamboo look. (if I am remembering correctly) A border very near the top of the VERY tall ceilings brings the two patterns together. A very soothing color and quite compatible look. It reminds me of my Grandma Martin's rooms in her old farm house near Temple, TX. A very airy and comfortalbe feel. It brought back such sweet memories of my families visits when she lived on that farm...hmmmnnnnh!
She is 66, but has been living with a disability for awhile. She doesn't walk very fast, but she does walk long distances considering her condition. We took off to find a suitable site for lunch, and she kept suggesting small coffee/cafe type places that don't really serve a meal, just maybe a sandwhich or something very light. I wanted to take her to a real "sit down and look at the menu" kind of place. I know on her limited income she does not/would not go to a place like that. SOOOO....
We ended up at a German/Italian/Russian restaurant in a shopping mall, on the third floor. It was very pretty, and not too expensive. During the course of the meal, she told about the first time she went to a restaurant. I was trying to understand, "you mean the first time last week" or the "first time last month"...NO...the first time EVER to go to a restaurant! She explained the very first time she had ever been to a restaurant was when she was 50 years old. I did not stutter...50 years old. My children and grandchildren had probably been fifty times by the time they were 3 years old...or maybe even TWO years old! Wow! Her first time was on a holiday for disabled people, a restaurant gave them (7 people) a free meal.
Raisa remembered that day as a very important day in her life. She even remembered what she had to eat! Now, sitting right next to me, she was so excited to look at the menu and realize she could order what she wanted to eat, not what someone ordered for her. The choices were hard, but she finally ordered a salad (which we all shared), a soup (hot, and thin...not creamy "which isn't really soup"), and a pasta type dish with meat. She ate her dish, the rest of the salad, some of my meat dish, and some dessert. Smiling all the while.
When the dessert that we all three shared turned out to be too much for us to finish, she asked what would happen to it. Rita told her she could take it home, she was so surprised! I told her "Either we are taking this home or we are going to sit here until we are hungry again, because this is too good to throw away!". It was some kind of "Kaiser-strudel", made like sopapilla's only with egg as a main ingredient! De-lish!!
As we said our goodbyes and watched her walk away thru the buildings near the the mall, Rita told me a little about her. This was only her third time in her life to eat at a restaurant. The first, on her 50th birthday, the second, when the ladies held a Ladies Day and went out (as a treat from OUR Ladies Bible Class) two or three years ago, and the third, again, as a treat from our Ladies Bible Class.
Thank you, ladies, you will never know the joy you gave this one sweet little lady! I appreciate the honor of "making her day" that you have allowed me to do.