Monthly Archives: January 2013

If you are sure of tomorrow, there is no fool greater than you.

It’s been quite a week for football in my home.  I read in an article that the only football team in Miami this past Monday night that could compete with Alabama was the Miami Dolphins. Even they may have had a hard time with Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, the NFL’s unofficial 33d team and the official best college football team in the land.  Last night my 49ers dominated the Packers.  While I knew they would win, I watched in awe as they scored touchdown after touchdown – Crabtree was amazing, Kapernick, almost flawless.

But there is much more to life than football and we’ve had a heavy dose of reality over here.  Tragedy struck our  little community when we learned that a student at my daughter’s high school hung himself a few days ago.  His name 736468_10200538249243061_109056266_owas Lee and he was more than just a student.  Lee was one of my daughter’s best friends.  They went to prom together last year. Every day he would walk her to English class and every day they ate lunch together.  This is one of those things you read about in the newspaper, but it never happens to anyone you know.  Gionna visited with Lee at his home just hours before he tried to kill himself.  I say tried because he lived for two more days.  Gionna went to visit him Thursday evening in the ICU and when she came home, she seemed hopeful that Lee would be waking up soon.  That wasn’t in God’s plan. Lee passed away Friday morning.

As parents, we often read books and talk to other parents regarding advice on raising our children.  We do our best to answer their questions and guide them, often drawing from our own experiences.  However, nothing can ever prepare you for when your child ask you why their friend killed himself.  I have no answers, no one does.  I hate to think that his life had become so dark for him that he felt ending his life was his only option.  Lee always made Gionna laugh.  That is the very thing she talked about most when she first met him.  My daughter doesn’t care what race, color or religion you are – if you are a good person and can make her laugh, you’re in.  It’s that simple with her and it’s one of the many things I love about her.  Gionna has countless stories of Lee making her laugh, often at her own embarrassment, and I hope it’s those memories she will draw on during this time, and always.  His death hasn’t hit63697_511446365552878_156739003_n her yet, not completely anyway, and it may take weeks.  She told me last night how going to school on Monday was going to be one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do.  Gionna asked me how would she be able to sit in the lunch room without Lee.  They always sat together and now he’s gone.  Again, I had no answer.

I’ve noticed on various media outlets that many of the students are posting sweet stories and saying very kind things about Lee.  What if we didn’t wait until someone has passed away to let him or her know how much they meant to us.  What if we told each other every chance we got what a difference we made in their lives or how happy we were to see them.  What if we took just ten minutes out of our day to call each other – not text, not snap chat, not tweet, not a FaceBook status … but make an actual phone call or stop by for a visit.  Our society and specifically. this generation, no longer knows much about the fine art of conversation.  We are becoming very self-absorbed and selfish.  We think what we don’t say or do today we can just do tomorrow, but sometimes, we can’t.  Tomorrow is not promised to you or me.  Leo Buscaglia said it best when he wrote,

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” 

Stop what you are doing now and call your mom, your sister, your best friend, make a human connection with someone.  Tell them you love them.  If they are with you now, hug them.  If they enjoy getting mail, sit down and write a letter, yes – with a pen and paper.  It really is the little things people – trust me on this one.  I’m in my home day after day with my adorable little boy who has a terminal illness.  Due to progression of his disease, we are housebound except for when his nurse comes for a few hours to watch him.  I promise your sweet ass, when someone comes by to visit or brings dinner over and stays to eat with us – I feel like the luckiest woman in the world.  A phone call from a friend, priceless.  Opening my mailbox and seeing a card, instant smile.  I may look high maintenance and complicated, but at my core, I’m just a person who every now and again, likes to know that I’m not going through this journey called life alone.  I think that’s all any of us want.

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Laughter is the shortest distance between two people. ~Victor Borge

I loved opening up my front door yesterday and finding donations for the homeless sitting on my front porch.  For a moment it felt a little like Christmas morning as a child, it really did.  You don’t often find the Christmas spirit still lingering around Donationsafter December 25.  This time of year I’m often reminded of a quote that perfectly describes what happens on December 26 at 12:01 a.m.,

Next to a circus there ain’t nothing that packs up and tears out faster than the Christmas spirit.” ~K. Hubbard

Perhaps people really do have the Christmas spirit in them all year-long, we just need to help bring it out in each other during the ‘off season’.  I’ve been relentless in my quest to gather warm clothes for the homeless at Boutwell Auditorium, even setting up a FaceBook page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/402550073160348/

I’ve made four trips downtown to the Boutwell since December 28, and each time my Tahoe was filled with blankets, sweaters, mittens and other winter necessities that you and I take for granted.  That wouldn’t have happened if I had just watched the news report about the homeless last Tuesday evening, thought to myself ‘those poor people, what will they do, it’s so cold outside’ and then changed the channel because it’s too depressing to watch.  I can’t quite explain it, but it was almost like a calling.  That’s the thing about me, I’m either in something 110% or not at all.  And watch out, because if the 110% side wins, I’m going to make it happen and if I can’t do it alone, I’m going to find ways to get the help I need.

The Boutwell opened it’s doors again last night at 6:00 pm for the homeless and I was looking forward to seeing my new friends, both the volunteers and the many homeless that I had grown so close to in such a short amount of time.  My mom came with me on this trip and everyone fell in love with her immediately. My mom has a very warm and gentle way about her and I wasn’t surprised at all when I saw her wrap her arm around a young woman who had fallen on hard times and needed someone to talk to. My mom loves to give hugs and these people need them.  So it’s a win-win.  WLaughterhen she wasn’t lending an ear and a shoulder, she & I had everyone laughing in the dinner line.   Mom was in charge of the chicken and I was in charge of the green beans.  Nothing to exciting about that.  But watching my mom trying to get chicken fingers on the dinner plates was quite entertaining.  My mom is a perfectionist and watching her morph into Martha Stewart in an effort to achieve the perfect placement of chicken on each plate, left her wide open for my smart ass comments.  Now, I had an audience, as many of the men in line were adding their own playful comments to mine, and in a matter of minutes,  the sound of laughter was heard throughout the dinner line.  It was a beautiful sound.  I read somewhere once that what soap is to the body, laughter is to the soul.  That is so true.

When dinner was over and things settled down some, we opened up the donation room to let everyone find what they needed.  I expected some sort of chaotic ‘free for all”, with clothes flying everywhere, all the neat, folded piles of clothes left in shambles – but it wasn’t like that at all.  The women sorted through the clothes and picked out just what they needed, nothing more, nothing less.  When I offered a woman a blanket that was heavier than the one she had, she said she couldn’t accept it because she already had one.  I was somewhat surprised  that they didn’t grab all their arms could hold.  I heard comments between the women like, “I really like that sweater but its kinda big for me, here, you try it on” or “oooh, that hat is nice but I already have one.”  I had the best job during all of this, I got to hold baby Maleek.  He is just one year old and a ball of fire.  This is the baby boy my daughter and I shopped for last week.  His mama is in her early twenties and a very sweet young lady.  She and Maleek quickly found a special place in my heart and I found myself checking in on her many times last night.  My mom talked to her about going to one of the shelters that is for women and babies and this morning they had an appointment at one downtown.  As much as I hate to see them go, Maleek will now get the medical care he needs.

I spent most of yesterday baking cookies and muffins to bring to the Boutwell. When my daughter finally woke up yesterday, (she’s a teenager, the only people who sleep more than her are the dead)  the following discussion took place:

Gionna: Mom, what are you doing?

Me: Baking cookies and Banana muffins;

G: Let me guess, for the homeless?

Me: (laughing) Yes Gionna

G: That’s it! I’m going to go live on the streets so I can eat better.

*Guilt set in and I gave Gionna one banana muffin, but just ONE!

Sometimes it’s a little funny the things that bring people together.  After we served dinner to the homeless, I placed the baked goods on the tables and in just minutes they were gone.  One gentleman came up to me and asked if I had anymore banana muffins and I sadly told him that none were left.  He didn’t say anything, but I could tell he was deep in thought.  He stepped a little closer to me and began tobanana-muffins tell me how his wife, when she was alive, used to bake for the homeless and how the muffins I made reminded him of the wonderful smells that used to come from their kitchen.  He thanked me repeatedly for giving my time to the homeless and I replied by promising him that I would make more banana muffins and bring them on Friday when I returned.  Oh the smile on his face when I said those words.  I just want to take care of each and every one of them.  Since I can’t do that now, the very least I can do is bake for them.

I had two hours to myself today, which is very rare.  When my daughter came home from school, she watched my son so I could run a few errands and just get out of the house.  Since she had to be at work at 5:00, that meant I had to put a bounce in my step.  My first stop was the post office.  This is never a fun errand because I don’t enjoy opening my post office box to find bills that quite often can’t be paid.  But today was different.  In my post office box was a belated Christmas card – which I love to receive, I don’t care if it’s January or June, they make me smile.  There was also two keys in my box.  Now, keys mean that there is a package so large that it couldn’t fit in my box and I’d have to go get it out of a larger box.  Two keys meant there were probably quite a few IMAG1471-1boxes.  I actually jumped up and down a couple of times I was so excited – I know, goofy as hell doesn’t even begin to describe me.

I quickly walked to the front of the post office and behind door number 20 and door number 25 were a total of four boxes – and they were donations for the homeless from my friend in Georgia.  Delivered to my home earlier that day was another package from a friend in Ft. Payne filled with Winter essentials. I am now of the firm belief that people really do want to help, you just have to let them know what it is that they can do.  Even my daughter’s friends have gone through their closets and donated sweaters and coats.  This has all renewed my faith in humanity somewhat.  I love seeing people come together to help others.  There are also those that have told me how selfish and lazy the homeless are and while that is true of some, it’s not the case with any of the men and women I have met during the past week.  I’m proud to call each of them my friend and I’ll do whatever I can to help them.  It may just be a warm coat, a cup of coffee and a muffin, but I’ll be there.

So tomorrow evening I will return for another shift of volunteering, but I don’t think of it as work, not at all.  No, this is simply people helping each other out and there is amazing gratification and energy that comes from it.  So many in my community have helped my family, especially now that I’m a single mom , and it feels good to be the one giving instead of receiving.  “Pay it forward”.  That’s what many people have told me when they have helped me buy groceries or pay a bill that was overdue – so I guess that’s what I’m doing now.  International Pay It Forward Day isn’t until April 25, 2013, but I think every day we need to find a way to “Pay It Forward”.  This website has some great ideas on how you can do that:  http://payitforwardday.com/.

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“How would your life be different if…You didn’t wait for someone else to fix a problem or social issue? Let today be the day…You take up a cause that you feel in your heart and give your time and efforts towards that cause.”  ~S. Maraboli, The Power of One

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