The Last Cake…

Our oldest daughter, Kristin, has a birthday today. And if you know Kristin, you know that she is usually over the top and full of life. Birthdays are a big deal to her; and have been since she was a very little girl. Now, she has a family of her own, with teenagers, no less, and last night we had a little celebration for her.

Now it’s important to note that Kristin is very specific on what she wants in the way of a cake. It should be white cake with buttercream icing and have some sort of decoration on it. One other thing – it must be from O’Malia’s grocery store. Well, what used to be O’Malia’s and is now owned by Marsh. The kids grew up in this grocery store. There was a place for the kids to play while Mom and Dad shopped for groceries, and in the early days, the men would meet around the fireplace in each store to drink coffee and shoot the breeze before they went shopping on Saturday mornings. The aisles were carpeted instead of tile or linoleum and not only did this give the appearance of being a really upbeat experience, it was quieter and there was far less breakage when things hit the floor.

Throughout the years, there have been minor changes – the carpeting eventually gave way to tile and there were technology changes as advances were made in scanning and checking people out as they finished shopping. There was even an addition made to the store  number of years ago. And the baggers have been there forever – one of them has been helping us for more than 28 years.

I guess you could say that those of us who have shopped there for years – 35 years in our case – find it a wonderful place to shop. Everybody knows your name and they know what brands you like and are very helpful in letting you know what things maybe on sale. And each year, except one, Kristin’s cake has been from O’Malia’s.

One year we had a brain lapse of some sort. We ended up at another store and out of convenience bought a birthday cake there. It didn’t go over very well. Kristin said the pink icing was “sweating” and she actually started crying – she missed her traditional cake. Dear old Dad came to the rescue, racing to O’Malia’s before they closed to get one of their special cakes. As I recall, the pink icing cake from the other store went in the trash…

So there was a little wrinkle this year. Marsh has sold their stores to a competitor. Several of the smaller stores, including the O’Malia’s we shop at, weren’t purchased and will close down in early July. I mean close down for good – not just a hiatus for remodeling… It’s over – our beloved store is about to be history. So when I called yesterday to get Kristin’s cake, I half expected that they were no longer doing cakes. I was right.

But this was important. And the store manager saw me as I entered the store and let me know that they had several cakes in the back – one with white cake and buttercream icing. I didn’t care what the cost was – I wanted it for Kristin. They didn’t have any way to decorate it, either, but they told me they would call when they figured it out and several hours later I picked up a beautiful cake with piping and the birthday message to Kristin, complete with all the traditional “extras” she is used to having. And it was decorated by the same lady who has been doing it for decades.

I went to pay for this wonderful cake and was told that the store appreciated all the loyalty we had given them over the years – and the employees wanted Kristin to know that they loved her – and the rest of our family – and they felt horrible that this year would be the last one that they could supply her cake. It was sad to really know that the end is coming is several weeks – and that Kristin got the last cake that they are offering… There was no charge for the cake, decorating or anything else – the employees and managers went out of their way to make sure Kristin wasn’t disappointed and would remember her last cake from them. I couldn’t believe their kindness.

So, another door closes and a chapter of our lives comes to an end. Frankly, it is one of the things that I thought would never happen – but I was wrong. The season is winding down and soon we will be forced to find another solution for our grocery needs; and our birthday cakes. The verse for tonight is a well known one from Ecclesiastes. We are told, by Solomon, the author of this book, in Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”

True words. My encouragement this evening is that God already has the next steps of our lives mapped out for us. A door may close but a window will open. My prayer is that we won’t get stuck in the past, but will be open to the new and exciting things that God has in store for us as we continue our lives. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace… and Happy Birthday, Kristin, we love you, and so do all the folks at O’Malia’s!

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