“I like the way you work” he said, as if he’d thought about it long and hard. We sat around him in a circle, flattered and pleased.

Mr Carlton is 90 years old. Hs has been a donor for a few years and we have become fond of him. Initially he was reluctant to talk much to us “girl’s’ (as he referred to us, all women in the Memorial Foundation office). He would wait while someone fetched Mark from the basement office. Mark is our Development Director for Hospice and the lone male on Foundation staff.

It was Mark’s suggestion that we celebrate Mr. Carlton’s 90th in our small dining room. The Foundation is an old brick house (1930?), we’ve filled it up as the years went by, a little of this and that, and  it holds an eclectic charm.

Rich chocolate zucchini cake (courtesy of Mark’s wife), good strong coffee and a circle of chairs gathered around, and we all laughed and heard stories of old Yakima. A past when Mr. Carlton worked at Drapers, attended Vaudeville shows at the Capitol Theatre, helped out at his family store “Carltons” on Yakima Ave,  Memories that made him grimace: the death of his 4 day old son; the loss of Penny, his cocker spaniel,  the loss of his wife, after months in Hospice care.

Grateful for the day, the candles and the company, his eyes shined. He had teared up several times.

As if by explanation, he commented, “I’m a little overwhelmed.” “This kind of thing doesn’t happen to me anymore.”

We were rapt. Eager to know better this man who given so much to our efforts to build Cottage in the Meadow, as he had become a bit of a hero to us. As his monetary gifts had grown through the years, we fell into a pattern of not only receiving them with gratitude, but hoping he was feeling good about his investment in us.

“I like the way you work” — meant the world.

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