As a kid, I remember riding my bike to St. Jude Church during the summer to have a free lunch; the days with tater tots and chocolate milk were the best.
I'd then head over to Grandma Agnes's house across the street and play in the backyard, or watch some soap operas with her while eating a few cookies. Some days she'd take me to Bethesda Thrift store to do her volunteer work with her, or we'd jump in the car to deliver some "meals on wheels" around town.
She lived across from St. Jude for my entire childhood and spent her final years here too. Nearly every day she walked over to St. Jude Church to participate in some event, or to go light vigils.
Grandma Agnes was a woman of incredible faith. During the 10 years I lived abroad in Asia / Australia, she would always tell me that she had lit a vigil for me. I think quietly, she was always saying a prayer that I would return back to Green Bay as soon as possible to be safe in her arms once again.
The incredible irony, or perhaps no irony at all, is that when I finally returned to the U.S. with a baby on the way, Grandma Agnes had passed and her little humble home was ready for someone to move in. So we did.
It was a place of familiarity, safety, and love - making it the perfect place for me to get grounded back in the U.S. and start my little family.
Little did I know that in the first 18 months of my child's life, she would spend many hours at the St. Jude Church Kitchen. She plays in that same cafeteria that I ate lunch in, and she returns home to the familiar place that I spent many of my childhood days.