Monday, May 19, 2014

Jill's Super Yummy Banana Bread

As I write this, I am biting into the most glorious, moist, flavorful just out of the oven banana bread. It's Jill's yummy banana bread as she calls it and she said that it is good because it's made with lots of love.  I can tell you that love may have something to do with it, but the ingredients make it sensational! Who is Jill and why is she bringing us banana bread?  Let me tell you the story.

Jill and Maury are our new neighbors, one of many that we are now surrounded and embraced by. I will say that this is a neighborhood unlike any other that I have known except perhaps my childhood one.   What is the definition of Neighbor?  One's fellow human being" "A person who shows kindliness or helpfulness toward fellow human beings." Here,  in the vicinity of Amherst and Fairfax, people live up to that definition!  Like Jill and Maury.  Maury knows everything about the neighborhood as they have lived here for 30 years.  They were invited to a dinner party to honor our arrival when we first moved here in January.  The hosts were John and Jennifer across the street... two other fine people that we have the pleasure to know.  It's interesting to sit down with people that you don't know... you can present yourself starting from now and leave out whatever parts of your history you are so inclined.  Jill and Maury have a daughter who is married to a Frenchman (there is always something French going on anywhere we are!) .  Jill and Maury watch their grandson several times a week and so one day when we saw their daughter picking him up, we brought out a bag of Camille's childhood French books.  They were so happy!  A few days later, Jill thanked us with a loaf of banana bread.  Alain and I took our separate bites of that bread and with our eyes rolling around in our heads,  declared it the best we had ever had!  We told Jill and she modestly replied that she just makes it with love.
On Saturday, we had a garage sale and Jill came over.  She is a quiet person and stays inside her home mostly.  But the garage sale gave us a chance to speak a bit more.  She began to tell me about an event she is dedicated to that holds garage sales for leukemia and lymphoma .  I told her that when our sale was over, whatever we didn't sell I would box up and donate to her cause.  Then she started to talk about the Dream Foundation and her daughter Noel.  I didn't know she had a 2nd daughter and she quickly nodded and explained how Noel was invited to speak at a Dream Foundation event to share her dream.  I quickly realized that Noel must be sick.  I gently asked where she was now and Jill quietly shared that she is in the heavens.  She said she passed at the same time her sister had her baby, Noah.  Noah was named for Noel to come in as she exited.  We stood on the driveway with tears in our eyes and all I could think of was that one never knows what goes on behind someone's smiling eyes.  Jill is always smiling but her eyes are sad.

Today, I was thinking of her as I gathered boxes to bring home to begin our organization of items to be donated to her group.  As I came inside the doorbell rang... it was Jill standing out front with a beautiful , warm from the oven, banana bread loaf and the recipe that I asked for.  I smiled and teared at the same time and expressed my joy at her wonderful good deed.  After we hugged she did a little jump and squeal of joy --an act of kindness completed!   I closed the door and began to cry.  Ever since we moved into this neighborhood, we have experienced nothing but kindness and I will continue to say and believe that kindness is one of the great healers.

A moment later, the church bells began to ring and as I always do, I stood in the garden with my face to the sun and gave thanks to the heavens for all the goodness granted us.