This is the last picture James ever took of me. It was taken 1/31/08, 6 days before he died:
I was so excited that night. My favorite non-profit organization operates a free school supply store for area teachers. Every year on the last Thursday in January, they hold their annual fundraiser, which is a spelling bee in which local "celebrities" are the contestants. There is also a silent auction prior to the main event. For the past few years, I have volunteered for the registration portion of this event.
As a registration volunteer, I have to be there early so I am in place when the guests start arriving. However, there is always plenty of time to scope out the auction items, which we are allowed to bid on once the auction starts. This is a fundraiser after all. The more bids the better.
I collect cows. I have for years, so when I saw this basket, I wanted the 5 little cows that were in it. Plus Tillamook cheese is the best. When we moved to Arizona and I saw Tillamook cheese at the store, I literally started to cry, mostly because it was the only brand in the store I recognized, and partly because I was homesick. So, when the auction started, I briefly stepped away from the registration table and put down a bid. And then the bidding war began. I was outbid, but as I have previously mentioned, I am stubborn. So, when it came down to the final two minutes of the auction, I raced down and saw that I was not the high bidder. The next amount was more than what I had set my limit at, but I really wanted the cows and it was for a good cause. So, I went for it and then hovered to make sure I was not outbid in the final seconds.
I ended up staying to help enter the winning bids. When we got to the cheese basket, I jumped up and down with delight as I read off my bid number and winning amount. The (then) Executive Director looked at me like I was nuts, so I just shrugged and said I really wanted the cows.
I could not wait to get home and show James my prize. I called him on the way and told him I had won something that I was really excited about and couldn't wait to show him, but didn't tell him what it was. He was watching a movie when I got home, but being the good guy that he was, he paused it so he could come see what I was so excited about. Of course, it was just one more thing that solidified to him what I dork I am. He really wasn't that impressed. And then we opened it and just kept pulling out cheese block after cheese block after cheese block, ice cream coupons (after a year of the best, the Safeway brand just isn't cutting it), fudge, a cutting board, etc.-there was a lot more in there than met the eye. He was much more impressed after that. The value of the ice cream coupons alone was only $21 less than what I paid for the entire basket.
I don't normally like to have my picture taken, but I was so happy that night. (It really doesn't take much which made life pretty easy for James!) And because this is the last picture James took of me, it will always have an extra special meaning in my life.