Monday, February 05, 2007

Something my mom has taught me...

My mom has taught me so many things in my almost 35 years. Most are just very simple things that I use everyday. Today, I used one of the lessons my mom taught me. I have a nice neighbor named Bev that lives across the street. She and her husband moved in about 3 1/2 or 4 years ago. When I saw that particular house go up for sale, I LITERALLY prayed a homeschool family would move it. Okay, more specifically - a homeschool family with a little girl Savannah's age. I told my sister-in-law, Debi, that I was praying for that and she laughed at me. I was so serious. As it turned out, it was Bev and her husband. Their children were all grown up. I didn't really meet Bev until we both happened to end up at our other neighbor's Home Interiors Party. I had been wanting to go over and introduce myself, but I felt nervous about that. Debi had told me how to make this really nice soap dispenser and add a handtowel - perfect housewarming gift. I didn't do it though. Too shy, I guess. So, anyway, we were finally introduced ourselves at this home party. The first thing she asked me was, "Are you the one that homeschools?" I was a little surprised she knew that about me. I told her yes, that was me. She went on to tell me that she homeschooled her kids at various stages and that her daughter homeschools now. Wow! How interesting! I later learned that her daughter lived in another part of Florida and had 2 girls around Savannah's age. Even more interesting. Over the next few years, we would talk on and off. Nothing very regular. You know - maybe if we both were at the mailbox or getting the paper. We would stop and chat for a little bit. When her daughter would come to visit, our girls would play together. All in all, a very nice friendship, but nothing really, really close. One day around this past Christmas, we met outside by our mailboxes. We went though the "How was your Christmas? Anything new?" routine. I told her about my job and our decision to move. She was genuinely sad to hear we would be leaving. Then she told me that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer and would be having a mastectomy in January. When she told me, I just felt myself go numb and I felt tears coming. You know I don't wish cancer on anyone, but it struck me at how much this hurt me. It was like a very dear friend was telling me, not the casual friendship of meeting at the mailbox. I told her that I had chosen Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future" to focus on to get us through this change in our lives. Then I told her that if she needed anything to just let me know. I gave her a hug and we went back to our houses. I had picked out a cross for my wall that had my verse on it and my mom bought it for me for Christmas. I decided I had to get her one. I took it over to her the next day and she almost cried. I was so glad I took the time to do something for her. She had her surgery and I saw all of her family coming and going. I didn't want to intrude. I asked my other neighbor if she had heard anything. Nothing. Then her daughter came to stay with her. She came over with her girls and asked if they could play. Of course they could stay over and play. Finally, there was something I could do to help. I got out beads and they made necklaces one day. The next day, they shaped and modeled clay. I was glad to help. I asked her how she was doing and she said it had been a rough surgery and she was pretty tired. Her daughter went back home yesterday. I decided to make some chili and take it over to her. My mom had made some homemade chicken soup for me to take too. Again, I was nervous to go over and knock on the door. Maybe she was sleeping or didn't want company. Maybe she hates chili! I didn't know. When she opened the door, she was so happy. I instantly knew that I had done the right thing. I am NOT, NOT, NOT trying to pat myself on the back. Please know that is not my intent. My intent is to share my story in case somebody else is out there that is nervous about reaching out to somebody else and helping in whatever way they can. This is where the lessons from my mom come in. My mom taught me to find whatever your gift is and use it to be kind to other people. My mom has always been a caregiver. She cared for her family, worked on hospital floors, in the Emergency Room, nursing homes, caring for an Alzheimer's patient and taking care of my dad when he was so sick. She had that gift. I don't really have the caregiver gift in the way that she has it. She can deal with a lot more illness and medical stuff than I ever could. I can cook. I am not a gourmet chef by any means, but I do make a pretty good pot of chili. I can make awesome brownies too. I can put them in a dish and take them across the street. I can keep giggly girls busy with beads and clay for hours while their mom helps their grandma to feel better. My mom taught me that. I ended up going in and visiting with Bev for a good hour. I felt a little nervous being in her home, but you know what she told me? She told me that she "so appreciated me" and would miss me when I moved. I knew I had done the right thing even if it was a little out of my comfort zone. If you know somebody that is having some sort of trouble and there is anything you can do - no matter how small - just do it. It is so worth it. And pray! I have been praying for Bev since I heard. It looks very good for her, but she still has to do a round of chemo just to be sure.

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