My son Wynn has autism. As a result, his social skills are stunted. Neverless, he still longs for friendship and human kinship even though he rarely knows how to properly initiate conversations. When he was 7 or 8, he went through a phase where he would approach strangers with survey-type questions such as: "Excuse me, Sir. Are you married or are you happy?" or "Excuse me, Lady. Have you always been so old?" or, my personal favorite, "Excuse me, Girl. How did you grow up to be a fat woman?" As you can imagine, he didn't make many friends for either one of us, and I spent a lot of time apologizing and feeling embarrassed (though I have to say, his questions were actually quite relevant). When Wynn was 10, he entered the phase of being totally enamored with men who had facial hair. In his attempt to interact with his subject of interest, he would approach each ... Read Full Story >>
A month ago, I stepped through the revolving door into my physician's office, feeling both afraid of being there because of what I could find out about my health, but also knowing that I would feel afraid if I didn't come there precisely to find out. So, I felt stuck. As I scurried over to a wooden chair with a plush cushion and a Home & Garden magazine lying on top of it, I noticed there were many other patients who were carefully seated on the chairs surrounding me with frightened faces buried in magazines. Amidst, these nervous readers, I spotted a little two-year old girl who was propped up on one of these seats with her short little legs sticking horizontally out into the air. Just a moment after I sat down, I heard this little doll-like child's voice as she suddenly and fearlessly, began to sing. She was making up her own song. It was something about Santa Claus. Everyone was listening but I don't think she even was aware of how all of ... Read Full Story >>
Just after his first birthday my son Cameron was struck down with a rare blood illness. In the following years he has needed four courses of chemotherapy, multiple blood and platelet transfusions, harsh immunosuppressive treatments, suffered a thrombosis in his leg and over 800 hospital visits, including stays of up to 3 weeks at a time. All this has led to him now also being an insulin dependent diabetic. Cameron is now 9 years old and raised over £71,000 to support other sick children. He has equipped his beloved children's hospital with books, televisions, game consoles, arts and crafts items, toys and games. To the hospital school that taught him how to tell the time, he also gave laptops so the most poorly children could work in their beds, along with a music station, a libary, paints and crayons. A couple of years ago he found out that his hospital was closing and a new one was being built. ... Read Full Story >>
Last Sunday I visited my parents as I do every Sunday. My 84 year old Dad seemed unusually worried, so I asked him if anything was the matter. He silently gave me a letter from his motor insurance company to read. In two sentences they informed him that they would no longer be able to insure his small truck and that he can call the undersigned for further clarification. I told him not to worry and that I would take care of the matter. The next day I called the undersigned to get clarification. To sum it up, it did not matter to the insurance company that my Dad spent 50 years paying the premium, but what mattered was that in his first accident (last August) the company had to fork out € 8,942. From then on for three days I visited or phoned almost every broker or insurance company to try and ... Read Full Story >>
I thought it was rather odd when my friend from the nursing home asked me to motor her wheelchair through the puddles that formed from the melting snow. I didn't really get it, but I went along with it. We were out on one of our walks or what I like to call one of our"weekly strolls" because I stand and she rolls. Adhering to my friend's peculiar request, we were off on our watery wheelchair adventure! We splashed through each puddle together and came out of each experience, slightly damp and smiling. In fact, after a few puddle excursions, even I started looking out for larger and more daunting puddles to sail through until one day we were out on our stroll, and to our dismay, no puddles were to be found. They had all dried up. Keen on keeping our strolling adventure alive, we discovered something new that awaited us. As we headed down the residential street, there was a small pile of leaves. My friend asked me to roll her through ... Read Full Story >>
My son’s kindergarten class did a performance yesterday for the parents and rest of the school. It was great but one particular thing made me think a little more about life in general. I was in the back videotaping it since my wife could not attend. About 10 minutes into the program, I could see the change at the exact moment my son saw that I was there. He was doing great and being a wonderful participant before that moment, but I could tell how seeing me there made such a difference and meant so much to him. His smile, wave, and frequent “thumbs up” directed to me, made me laugh as I was able to relive them over and over later. It made me think. Sometimes just letting someone know you are there for them can make all the difference. They may not call on you or ask anything of ... Read Full Story >>
I had a dream. A genie appeared and offered me one wish. I begged: “I want happiness.” The genie answered: "Happiness? You can't give someone happiness. What is happiness for one person is different for someone else. It is relative. I cannot give you happiness, but I can give you what will make you happy. What will make you happy?” the genie asks. I examined my life and found that the most ecstatic moments of joy, bliss and happiness were when I was helping people. My happiness came from serving others. So, I said, “Genie, let my life be one of serving people." And so it has come to pass. I became a physician to provide medical care to indigenous peoples worldwide in war and in peace. I held the hands of hopeless people in warring Rwanda, dared to care for the desperate in Angola and the traumatized in the trenches of ... Read Full Story >>
Today my son and I drove to a town just over from our own. We had errands to run there. He wanted to buy a game for all the hard work he put in this year in school. He was diagnosed with ADHD and oppositional defiance disorder but still managed to be on the A/B Honor Roll for half the school year. We are so incredibly proud of him! This child of mine has the most loving heart. Off we went to the mall. We got lunch in the food court and just enjoyed talking to each other. He looked over and saw a young man in an Army uniform. He asked me if he could give him a smile card. We had made our own. All they say is "Smile... Pay it forward." So he marched right up to that young man and said, "Thank you!" and handed him the ... Read Full Story >>
Anonymous giving and acts of kindness can lead the giver to a very lonely place in the universe. Like the Lone Ranger or some other disguised hero, we do kind things all the time and so often the people on the receiving end don’t see it or don’t recognize it. Living a life of altruism, in its most ideal form, means setting the ego aside and not doing what we do for credit. Usually, I have no problem with this at all. But there are those days, perhaps when I’m feeling a little weak or drained, where I find myself feeling lonely with it all, feeling like I’m giving, giving, giving, to a world that is in super receiving mode and asleep to what’s being done for them. I get a little discouraged. Even idealized heroes had their inner circle of friends who knew who they really were and what their life ... Read Full Story >>
Since I have come to any kind of spiritual maturity I have believed we get out of this world what we put into it (... and then some!) Usually, the rewards are indirect and sometimes hard to recognise, but every once in a while what you give comes back to you there and then! A couple of days back my step-son, Josh, was preparing for a big event. Children from his primary school were going for their first trial day at the secondary school, so they would know what to expect when they started after the summer holidays. A big day for an eleven year old lad! I was in the middle of some stuff when I noticed him searching in a clay pot where we keep pens and pencils. In primary school they use pencils, but secondary kids get to write with pens. And Josh was looking for a pen. He came out with ... Read Full Story >>
For my birthday, Julie booked a coach trip to Liverpool. It's where I went to college thirty years ago and I hadn't been back since. We had a great time! Watching the passengers embark on the coach as we got ready to head to Liverpool, I was a little dismayed to see a couple get on with two boys, both under five. We were gonna be on the coach for four hours. Would they act up? Or be sick? Or would it just be too boring for them? It turned out they were great! No doubt about it. Travelling like that with two lively little boys would take both parents full attention. And they did seem to work well together. In the hotel (a hotel that was once the pride of the city, now a bit dowdy, but still spectacular!) the parents got through the meals by working as a tag-team and never leaving ... Read Full Story >>
My wife called,"How long will you be with that newspaper? Will you come here and make your darling daughter eat her food?" I tossed the paper away and rushed to the scene. My only daughter Sindu looked frightened. Tears were welling up in her eyes. In front of her was a bowl filled to its brim with curd rice. Sindu is a nice child, quite intelligent for her age.She has just turned eight. She particularly detested curd rice. My mother and my wife are orthodox, and believe firmly in the 'cooling effects' of curd rice! I cleared my throat, and picked up the bowl. "Sindu, darling,why don't you take a few mouthful of this curd rice?Just for Dad's sake, dear." Sindu softened a bit, and wiped her tears with the back of her hands. "OK, Dad. I will eat - not just a few mouthfuls, but the whole lot of this. ... Read Full Story >>
Every morning my friend would stop on the way to work to grab a quick breakfast for herself and her son, before dropping him off at school. They tended to frequent the same eatery every morning grabbing an egg sandwich, juice, coffee for her, milk for him. One day she ordered an additional breakfast. Once they had eaten and were headed out the door, she stopped, said good morning to a homeless man sitting outside of the restaurant and handed him the additional breakfast she had ordered. He thanked her profusely, grinning, telling her it was the first meal he had in a great many days. She couldn't help but feel good and was glad she finally took action. She told her son that she had seen him every day that week outside the restaurant and that no one, herself included, had stopped to offer him support, food, drink, comfort, etc. She further explained that homelessness ... Read Full Story >>
In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10-year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "Miss, how much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "Fifty cents," replied the waitress. The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it. "Okay then, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now, more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "Thirty-five cents," she brusquely replied. The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table, and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier, and left. When the waitress came back to that table, she began to ... Read Full Story >>
Last spring I was walking in a park. A short distance ahead of me was a Mom and her three-year-old daughter. The little girl was holding onto a string that was attached to a helium balloon. All of a sudden, a sharp gust of wind took the balloon from the little girl. I braced myself for some screaming and crying. But, no! As the little girl turned to watch her balloon go skyward, she gleefully shouted out, "Wow!" I didn’t realize it at that moment, but that little girl taught me something. Later that day, I received a phone call from a person with news of an unexpected problem. I felt like responding with, "Oh no, what should we do?" But, remembering that little girl, I found myself saying, "Wow, that’s interesting! How can I help you?" One thing’s for sure - life’s always going to keep us off balance with its unexpected problems. That’s a ... Read Full Story >>
I was shopping at the local department store and noticed this young man in his late 20's looking carefully for children's clothing and putting together really cute outfits to buy. This is a small store and when I went to the checkout counters, they were closed and the courtesy desk called me over there to check out. Wouldn't you know the young man was checking out there too. We were Side by Side and I could see and hear his conversation with the cashier. When the total appeared on the cash register he looked down and said I don't have enough money. He put back a shirt, and he was still short for money. Now, I myself, am not overflowing with money because my hubby is unemployed, but when I saw this guy putting back underwear and socks, I was heartbroken. Here he was trying to buy some nice clothing and needed items for ... Read Full Story >>
I was in the queue for the supermarket checkout earlier today. All of the checkouts were busy and the woman behind me in the queue was not happy! Every word that came out her mouth was negative, a complaint, a moan, a whinge! She wasn't happy with the number of checkouts opened, she wasn't happy with the amount of shopping some people had in their baskets, she wasn't happy because this supermarket didn't have a stand where you could scan your own shopping. She wasn't happy! I listened to her without looking around as I loaded my stuff onto the conveyor belt. I didn't want anything to do with that kind of attitude, and if ever I had felt like letting someone go ahead of me, it wouldn't be such a moaner! But then I glanced back. Standing beside the woman was a five year old girl, possibly her granddaughter. The girl's part of ... Read Full Story >>
Twelve years ago yesterday, my mother gave birth to the most beautiful little girl. We were a broken family with little money. We were given the news that this little girl, who was three and a half months premature, would only have 14 days on this earth. It's hard to understand what kind of feeling you have when you find out that you're losing something that you don't even know. As time went on, the number of days kept growing, which gave us hope. When they said that we could take her home, that's when realization hit. We had no money. I am from a small town with small hospitals, but when you don't have money, you just don't have it. My mother tried for days to get the money, but came up pennyless each time. The case worker was even doing her best. It's sad that it almost felt like we ... Read Full Story >>
One day I had my youngest daughter, Lauren, out shopping and running errands with me. We were rounding the corner of a fast-food place to pick up something quick to eat, a rare thing for us. There was what appeared to be a homeless man, maybe 65 or so, who had a couple of dogs on wire leashes. He wasn't begging, but he smiled and waved at us. Once we picked up our food, I drove back around and asked him how he was, and said his dogs looked as though they really loved him. He said indeed they all loved each other, then said something like, 'I lost about everything in a fire a few months ago (a building he was squatting in) except for these guys, and I have all I need. But I sure do miss my Bible.' I smiled and waved, and told my daughter that we ... Read Full Story >>
The Echo of Life A son and his father were walking on the mountains. Suddenly, the son falls, hurts himself and screams, "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" To his surprise, he hears the voice repeating, somewhere in the mountain: "AAAhhhhhhhhhhh!!!" Curious, he yells, "Who are you?" He receives the answer, "Who are you?" Angered at the response, he screams, "Coward!" He receives the answer, "Coward!" He looks to his father and asks, "What's going on?" The father smiles and says, "My son, pay attention." And then he screams to the mountain, "I admire you!" The voice answers, "I admire you!" Again the father screams, "You are a champion!" The voice answers, "You are a champion!" The boy is surprised, but does not understand. Then the father explains: "People call this ECHO, but really this is LIFE. It gives you back everything you say or do. Our life is simply a reflection of our actions. If you want more love in the world, create more love in your heart. If ... Read Full Story >>
Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a lovely little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare life threatening disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had somehow survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness.
The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her."
As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?".
Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.
A young girl, Hattie, stood outside a small church from which she had been turned away because 'it was too crowded'. "I can't go to Sunday School," she said to the pastor as he walked by. The pastor carried the child inside and found a place for her to sit in the back. The next time the pastor met her he said "Hattie, we are going to have a larger Sunday school room soon. When we get the money with which to erect a school building we are going to construct one large enough to get all the little children in, and we are going to begin very soon to raise the money for it." The pastor did not see Hattie again, until he heard from her parents some two years later. Hattie had sadly died her parents called for the kind-hearted pastor, who had befriended their daughter, to handle the ... Read Full Story >>
We were traveling in Italy recently and what really made our trip memorable are the encounters with Italian Grandmas. I had just crossed a busy road in Roma. A grandma right next to me sprinted across and came back with my toddler's missing shoe. I hadn't even noticed and she thought it would be easier to run twice than try to communicate with me through our language barrier :) Another time, I was looking for Fontana de Trevis and had wandered off in the name of looking at this and that. Out came a Grandma from a small cafe and she instantly knew I was lost. She took me by my hand and asked where I was headed. Then she went into a rapturous discourse about the fountain (I guess) and in 3 minutes, I was standing in front of the masterpiece. Just as she was about to disappear, she searched for ... Read Full Story >>
We were the only family with children in the restaurant. I sat Erik in a high chair and noticed everyone was quietly sitting and talking. Suddenly, Erik squealed with glee and said, 'Hi.' He pounded his fat baby hands on the high chair tray. His eyes were crinkled in laughter and his mouth was bared in a toothless grin, as he wriggled and giggled with merriment. I looked around and saw the source of his merriment. It was a man whose pants were baggy with a zipper at half-mast and his toes poked out of would-be shoes. His shirt was dirty and his hair was uncombed and unwashed. His whiskers were too short to be called a beard and his nose was so varicose it looked like a road map. We were too far from him to smell, but I was sure he smelled. His hands waved and flapped on loose ... Read Full Story >>
One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much." were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class ... Read Full Story >>
This weekend, a group of us were in Union Square, New York, watching Tylon and Macho, two contortionists and street dancers, put on a jaw dropping performance that included jumping over 7 people. At the end, the hundreds of people watching began putting money into their bucket.
One tiny little girl walks up with her mom, she couldn't have been more than 2 years old. Tylon, who grew up in the Harlem projects, reaches into his bucket, folds up a couple of dollar bills, and hands them to the little girl. Everyone who witnessed it was stunned and humbled by this pure act of giving. Our jaws dropped for a second time.
Inspired, my bro, Shrey, later pulled out several more bills and we snuck them into Tylon's bucket without him seeing. His small, simple act of giving will not be forgotten.
If you happen to be in New York, be sure to catch these do-gooders Thurs-Sun evenings in Union Square, across from the Whole Foods!
I had asked my 22 year old son to bring home some milk from the grocery store where he works as a supervisor.
My 8-year-old daughter is experimenting with kindness and smiles. She has been making her own colourful smile cards in all the colours of the rainbow and often takes them to school or stuffs her pockets with them when we go out to run errands. She makes them very carefully and takes great pride in her work :) Last Sunday, I took the kids grocery shopping with me. My daughter packed her pockets with about 20 of her homemade smile cards. She was hoping to see John, who is an elderly man who gives out samples. We see him from time to time and he is so happy and friendly, that we can't help feeling good talking to him. John wasn't at the store on Sunday, so my daughter decided that it would be a good idea to distribute her smile cards to all the store's other employees. As much as I have ... Read Full Story >>
When my son was first diagnosed with Autism, it was a very hard time for us. In some ways it was a relief, because we finally had a name for what was going on in our lives, but it also meant years more of uncertainty, and we didn't know what the future held. When I shared the news with my coworkers, I was so surprised and happy to recieve so much immediate love and support from them. They were focused on what we needed, as opposed to how it would affect my ability to make it to work. One coworker in particular was amazing to my family and I. She called me into her office a few days later, and gave me a "worry stone". This is a small circular stone with an indention for your thumb. It gives you something to focus on when you're worried, rubbing your thumb around on this stone. It was ... Read Full Story >>
My husband and I have been hosting children in need of orthopedic surgery from Belize since 1993. Our local Rotary district and Shriner's Hospital in St. Louis provide the air fare and medical care. Some say that we are so wonderful to be host parents...maybe, but we are the ones who are blessed to have the privilege to care for these darling children.
Our children have had the opportunity to see the world in a different view than most of their peers and we are all grateful for being chosen to share our home with others less fortunate. Now that that they are adults, our three children host these children too.
If you live within a few hours from a hospital, you too can help others with your immeasureable time and talent (and there are always other experienced volunteers to back you up if needed).