A Lucky Day (Part 1)
by Manuel M.
One day on a typical warm August afternoon, I was working in the garden in front of my neighbor’s house. It was a Thursday afternoon when there was a farmers’ market in Concord. It can get very busy and many people park in front of my neighbor’s house.
I almost finished my job when suddenly I looked up because somebody said hello to me. “Hello!” I answered. And that is when the person said, “What a beautiful garden and house you have!” I smiled. “This is not my house, I’m just the cat here!” “Oh, I see,” she said and laughed.
That is when we started to get to know each other better. “What did you mean by cat?” she asked me. “I am doing gardening, cleaning, taking care of pets and house sitting.”
“By the way, my name is Manuel. And what is your name?” I asked her. “My name is Heidi,” she answered. After that, I felt more comfortable to ask her, “Maybe you have a job for me or you know somebody?” “I do my own cleaning, but I can ask my neighbor,” she answered. After that, we exchanged phone numbers.
About a month later, I called her. She told me the neighbor did not need any help. She said, “I need my balcony to be cleaned and my window, but I’m a retired person.” Then I said, “You don’t need to pay me. You can make me a sandwich.” “Are you sure?” she asked. “Yes,” I said.
A week later, I cleaned her balcony and windows. She liked the results. She surprised me with a whole meal. She served me salad, wild salmon with steamed vegetables and rice. It was so delicious. I don’t know how she prepared it but it was so tasty. I was so happy with the food that I asked her, “Can I come next week? I can clean your bathroom.”
That was the beginning for me to enjoy delicious and especially healthier meals. Before I met her, my diet was convenience store food like tacos, burritos and quesadillas. I drank lots of sodas and beers. Never before did I think to change any of it. I was surrounded by people who ate just like me.
We became good friends.
Unexpected Changes (Part 2)
by Manuel M.
After Heidi and I became good friends, one day she said, “Would you like to go to the farmers market with me if you are available? We can go this weekend to Shadelands in Walnut Creek.” I said, “Of course I can go with you. I can help you carry your bags.” I enjoyed the way she interacted with all the vendors calling them by their names.
We continued our friendship over healthy, tasty meals. She told me, “I really enjoy cooking, and eating alone is no fun. And I never had anybody washing dishes afterwards.” To hear that made me happy that I could do something for her.
One day she asked, “Do you want to go with me to the mountain?”
“Where?” I asked.
“Right here in Clayton. Don’t be a couch
“What do you mean by couch potato?” I asked feeling puzzled. She smiled. “Let me show you.” And then we left.
I found out that Heidi came from Germany and Germans walk a lot. It wasn’t my life
style before but I was surprised how much I enjoyed being in nature. We saw many animals like birds, deer, jack rabbits and even
Having met Heidi changed my life completely in a positive way. Slowly the pounds fell off and I feel better than ever before. My weight was 233 and now I am 185!
In addition, she helped me stop drinking alcohol. Before I met her, I had been drinking a lot for 25 years. Now I have been sober since November 2016. When I get up every day, I feel much better. It is amazing how I feel without alcohol!
One day I said to her, “I don’t know why you help me.” She replied, “Well maybe it is my mission in this life.” I like to think of her as my angel. It is amazing how two different people from two separate continents can get along so well. It reminds me of the movie Guten Tag, Ramon.
When I told her how thankful I am for all the encouragement to eat more vegetables and fruit and walk more, she just answered, “Give yourself some credit. You listened!”
I will always be grateful to her!