I need to share a powerful and strangely wonderful event in my life that involves death and cancer. I am certain you are struggling with the fact that I am using the words wonderful, cancer and death in the same sentence. I think that after you hear this story you will agree that in this case it is an appropriate combination of words. A dear friend of mine was dying of cancer. Shortly before she died she shared with me that she was very sad that she would never get to go to the beach again. She grew up near the ocean and it was a special place for her. The cancer had made her too weak to travel the 4-5 hours from her home to the ocean. I shared this with several of her friends and we decided we had to do something about it. On a Saturday afternoon in June, while her family kept her distracted ... Read Full Story >>
It was a hot weekday afternoon and I was on my way to volunteer at a reading session with visually impaired girls. I got in to a rickshaw and immediately struck up a conversation with the rickshaw driver. The rickshaw driver started telling me the story of his life. He related that he had grown up very poor and he and his siblings didn’t have much. He said he worked very hard so that he could make sure that his children had the opportunity to attend a decent school. He said that there were many nights when he would skip dinner to make sure that they would have enough money to send the daughter on a class trip or to pay for his son to attend the computer lab. I was profoundly moved by the simple and matter of fact way in which this man was relating this heart-melting story. When we ... Read Full Story >>
I live in a big Scandinavian city that unfortunately has a lot of homeless people. Luckily there are small ways of helping them even though you may not have a lot of money. One way to help is to buy their monthly magazine. By doing this one day, I got to know a young homeless man who was often standing at the train station, selling the magazine. He was a refugee from another country and I can only imagine what kind of psychological scars he must have had from living in a war-torn country, escaping it and then ending up being homeless. After a while, I discovered that his birthday was close to mine which meant that we were born under the same sign of the Zodiac, something we talked about once in a while. I met him last year shortly after his birthday, and without thinking, after congratulating him, I asked if he had had ... Read Full Story >>
Arriving in a new city last Thursday, I had the strangest first week of graduate school. I fell and broke my leg within 48 hours of arriving there! I was really amazed by the kindness shown by my new roommmate, someone who I had only just met. "We are family now", she said when she found me lying in my room with a swollen leg, unable to move, in a strange city with no family except across three oceans. She took me to the student health center by cab to get my leg examined. The cab driver was so nice and said to me how lucky I was to have a friend like that. After that, my roommate didn't stop helping me - she made me amazing meals and brought them to and made me comfortable despite my insistence that I could do things on my own. When I protested, "I really like helping people", she said , "I believe ... Read Full Story >>
A social worker played a huge role in my life when I was young. It's a field where the pay is low and many are at ground zero of humanity's dark sides. I wanted to share a letter I wrote thanking them. This was sent out to over 80 agencies across the midwest. If you know someone who could use this please do send it. It does matter. Dear Social Workers, The work you do matters. On the days when you are burnt out, and questioning if it does, take a few moments to read this letter. I was 12-years old when I first met Dale. I was lost in a world of institutions and dormitories for the last few years. The reasons why I didn’t understand. At the time I thought I was broken and no good. I later learned it was my home that was broken. My father was an abusive ... Read Full Story >>
My first full time job after high school was selling vacation packages via telephone for a well known company. One day, the dialer connected me to a man that answered the phone and sounded a bit out of breath. I started with my normal pitch, and expecting to hear the normal, "I don't want any," and be hung up on. Instead he spoke in a faint, weak voice and began to tell me how he wished he could take a vacation like the one I was offering, but couldn't because he was dying of emphysema. He explained how he was on oxygen, and it took almost all his energy just to get to the phone to answer the call. I apologized, and my heart fell into my stomach. He asked me if I smoked, which I did, and then begged me to stop. He told me smoking is what was ... Read Full Story >>
I recently had the chance to have a meal with some close friends who don't live in my city. The choice of restaurant was a pretty fancy one known for triple digit bills. We had a wonderful time together at the restaurant and approaching the end of the meal, I excused myself. I silently headed towards the waiter and asked him to charge the meal to my credit card, but to also not tell anyone that I did it. I signed for the meal and and quickly went back to my seat, no one the wiser for my trip. When it came time for the check, the waiter came by and told me and my fellow diners that the meal had already been paid for by an unknown person! They couldn't believe it and demanded to know who did it, but the waiter assured them he didn't know :) The response on ... Read Full Story >>
My seven year old son Nicholas came home from school one day and in the context of our usual "How was school?" chat he told me about one of his classmates who had asked him to share his snack with him in a somewhat forceful way. After this chat, as a room mother, I had the chance to better observe the boy concerned. I saw he never had a snack and was often dirty, so I understood a bit more his situation. From that point on I sent extra crackers, etc., everyday and Nicholas made a point of sitting next to the boy at snack time so he could share - telling the boy I always gave him too much. After this we realized he was unable to pay for field trips and the teacher was doing this for him. We secretly got involved with that also, making sure he was in our group for ... Read Full Story >>
I've been so inspired by everyone's thoughts and reflections that I thought I'd take the plunge and continue a recent practice of stepping out of my comfort zone and sharing this story. Last Friday, I was coming home late after spending time with friends andthought I'd go down to the $.99 cent pizza place. On the way, I saw a man sitting on a random stoop. I'd seen him before, panhandling on the stairs I walk up every day as I leave the subway running late to work, but this time I had no place to rush off to. There was something about him, a quiet and serene demeanor, different from many of the other homeless people I had seen in NYC. I walked past him, went to the pizza place, and those 10 seconds waiting in line was enough to practice stepping outside of my usual, familiar flow. So with a few ... Read Full Story >>
You join Facebook and " friend" your old classmates. You might not ever talk about anything serious with them but they are there. You read their status, laugh at their jokes, groan at the corny quotes, or wish them a happy birthday. Until last week, that is.... A classmate from twenty years ago was one of my Facebook friends. A few random comments he made gave me the impression that something was wrong so I prodded him to call me. He did call and I found out that that he, his wife and eight children had just moved into a cheap motel room. He had used the very last of their money to pay for a week's stay there. He had no job and they had lost their home. What do you do in a situation like that? I am just me, with my own family, my own worries, not enough money ... Read Full Story >>
Opportunity knocked on my door last January when I was given a chance to work in an other country. It's really such a blessing! At first, it was really scary living life on my own. But, I soon met .lots of new people. Some were good and some were bad. It was a true challenge! I met a group of friends, six boys and one girl. They were really nice. I loved their company and they were so funny! We hung out most weekends. We cooked, watched movies, chatted and shared jokes! It was amazing - until something unexpected happened! One of our group was diagnosed with kidney stones which had to be removed surgically as soon as possible. But it was not as simple as that! Our friend could not afford the surgery. He tried to get help from our other friends but they refused to help. My heart cried for him! Our friends abandoned him just when he ... Read Full Story >>
I must share a heart warming experience I enjoyed this week, both as a parent and a human being. My daughter, Emma (in 7th grade), started back to school last week. There is a young boy in her class (call him Jake) who is quite overweight. As you might expect he is the butt of many jokes and is treated very badly by other kids (and even by the teachers). Jake gives the impression that he's not a nice guy, mostly because of the fact that he's constantly picked on. For several nights this week Emma came home from school upset about the fact that Jake gets picked on so much. She also mentioned that he had no school supplies as his family could not afford them. He was constantly asking to borrow paper, which just gives kids even more reason to pick on him. One night Emma was extremely upset about this situation, not only because ... Read Full Story >>
A little over a year ago, a good friend of my mom's passed away, and it was only when I tried to reach her to let her know of my mom's passing that I was told this sad news. My mom's friend was a big part of my childhood and I remember her fondly. I hadn't spoken with her in many years, but I knew I was still her "Sunshine." My mom's friend had a sister, whom I only met as a child, but to whom I felt an instant connection. I knew immediately that I wanted to reach out to the sister. We have corresponded a few times during this last year, and her kind words and caring thoughts have brought much comfort to me in my own time of need. On September 7, 2010, the day before the first year anniversary of my mom's death, I received a card from ... Read Full Story >>
Last year my family was moving from New Hampshire to Washington State. In the process of selling our house, giving away most of our belongings (we were moving to a much smaller house and didn't need most of it) and saying goodbye to all the friends we'd made over the past 22 years there; our 27-year-old daughter, who was living with us, became progressively more ill, eventually becoming unable to sit up or walk. Three weeks before we were supposed to close on our house, she was diagnosed with both Lyme disease and a brain tumor, which was pressing on her brainstem. Her excellent neurosurgeon was able to remove the entire tumor, which was non-cancerous, and within days she could walk again and use her arms. Intravenous antibiotics took care of the Lyme disease. When we returned home from the hospital (after 11 days away), there was a big sign welcoming us home ... Read Full Story >>
The shuttle bus service I take to the airport is famously bad at customer service, but they are the only option for lots of travelers. I was sitting on the bus one day feeling disappointed by their shoddy service when a young soldier got on. He was in full uniform with his duffle bag across his shoulder and a ticket in his hand. But, guess what? The driver wouldn't accept his ticket! Apparently it was "the wrong format." It was probably a military issue travel pass but because the driver didn't recognise it or it hadn't been made out properly he was not going to let the soldier travel. The soldier did not have any cash and, unbelievably, the shuttle company (via radio) would not authorize a voucher. I was sitting pretty near the back but I could hear what was going on and I had heard enough. I stomped down to the ... Read Full Story >>
I have always tried to base my life on helping others. Sometimes I have had to do without but that’s okay. Our family, like everyone else, are having a rough go of it and I feel blessed just to be able to provide for my own kids. I know that my kids have always been kind-hearted and would do whatever they could for anyone else, but when I learned about a recent act of kindness my teenage son did for a friend, it has really touched my heart. My son was going to school every day with lunch money in his pocket but yet coming home hungry. When we asked about this, we came to find out he was sharing his money daily with a friend that was going without any lunch every day. As rough as we have it some days we now make sure there is lunch money for two ... Read Full Story >>
It was our turn to host the Christmas family dinner. It had been a few years since it had taken place at our house. Three deaths had occurred in the intervening years, family elders. And there was the considerable loss that went with that. One of them, the mother of my son-in-law, had died almost exactly a year earlier. She and her husband had hosted many family gatherings at their large home. The gatherings there would never be the same again without her. And so my wife and I both felt both the need and the strong wish to provide a warm setting for a healing gathering. Some years earlier a secret Santa strategy had been settled upon to help reduce the financial burden of gift exchange. The names of all would be written on separate slips and then drawn by family members. You would give a gift to the person ... Read Full Story >>
When I first got married, I told my wife that every year at Christmas, I love to give a gift to someone anonymously. I feel that's the true meaning of Christmas - it is about giving and not receiving.
My wife had a friend that she had grown close to over time. Well just before Christmas one year, she lost her job, She had very little by way of savings and no where to turn for help, and she has two young children. So I told my wife we need to help but we should do it anonymously.
We purchased a money order from a store and mailed it to her with no return address. We had a friend address so she wouldn't know the handwritting and it was mailed from a city outside of our area so the postmark was unknown.
Well 4 years later, also at Christmas time, my wife decided to tell her who the money was from when she did her friend just smiled and said from that Christmas on she has been helping others who are in need every Christmas.
It just goes to show you a little help can have a lot of ripples.
The car went through the stop sign and into the intersection. With no where to go or time to get there, my taxi hit the car dead on. For the next three months I was out of work. I had no savings to speak of. No family to help me. I was in dire straights to be sure. The lady who ran the stop sign had little insurance, barely enough to cover the medical expenses with little left over to pay my living expenses. Just after the accident Justin came to see me in the hospital. We had been co-drivers with the taxi company. We knew each other and worked well together. We were not what one might consider to be friends but we liked each other. He asked me what was going to happen and I told him I didn't know. I was in deep trouble financially until a settlement ... Read Full Story >>
Jeff Rupp, beloved teacher at Fullerton High School, and his daughter Sarah Dear Mr. Rupp, The day I met you was the first day of high school. I walked into your class with a t-shirt that said, “supermodels suck,” and you were rocking a ponytail and had your Harley parked next to your desk. We liked each other immediately. You gave me a lot of advice over the next four years, like how I should get my ass to Berkeley where I belonged. I’m still there, by the way. I wish you were still around too. I remember your full-sleeve tattoos, which the school made you hide even in the blazing heat of summer. They were always there under your blue denim shirt and leather vest combo, and you were more than happy to tell us the story of each one, like constellations etched in ink instead of stars. I remember your laugh, which ... Read Full Story >>
I wrote an earlier story about a friend who was put on hospice care. I would visit her on Tuesday nights and we would talk and have some "girl time". I would do her hair on those visits. I couldn't heal her but for a night she felt beautiful! We would talk and laugh. And after her hair was done on one of my last visits I put lipstick on her lips and some color on her cheeks. When I held up the mirror for her to see how she looked she smiled at me and told me she was going to go dancing. I told her to be home before her family got up in the morning! How nice to be at the end of your life and have a sweet dream of getting out of your wheel chair to dance! When I went for my visit this week the ... Read Full Story >>
I wanted to share something that put a smile on my face this morning. My work place is very diverse, as matter of fact, my company ranks in the top 10 among the most diverse companies in America. With this being the case, a lot of times we run into situations where there is a language barrier. Last week while I was at work, one of my coworkers twisted her wrist while lifting something that might have been too heavy for her.This particular coworker of mine speaks little English and my Spanish needs “mucho” work. But we have never had a problem communicating. When I ran into her shortly after her injury, I took a look and I knew that a simple first aid routine was in order. With me being an athlete, I knew that a simple procedure called 'RICE' (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation), was what she needed until she ... Read Full Story >>
On my first visit to India with my partner, Barry, we met a really nice woman on the plane who was flying from Canada to India to move back with her family in Chennai. Talking with Uma, a dentist, who had been trained in England, made the long flight from the US go by much faster. When we arrived in Chennai, we learned that our bags had somehow not made the trip with our plane. As we filled out the missing luggage forms, we couldn't help noticing the mountain of unclaimed baggage in a corner of the terminal. Would we ever see our belongings again? This was not an auspicious beginning to our 6-week trip. It was now 4 a.m. Saturday morning. The officials had told us there was no point in checking to see if our bags had arrived until Monday. What should we do next? As we stood there wondering, ... Read Full Story >>
18 years ago I discovered I was unexpectedly pregnant, I was on my own and in an extremely limited financial situation. I worked at a pet shop, a job I loved, but cleaning cages with unrelenting nausea was pretty awful to deal with. Having little money, and unable to keep anything down, I started losing weight instead of gaining it. There was a neighbor woman I had visited with a couple of times, and to my surprise, she started working at the pet shop too. Everyday, for lunch, she would produce large, organic salads and other very healthy meals. To my surprise she insisted that I have some of her lunch. I tried to refuse, but she was determined. Puzzled, I managed to eat, and when I admitted to everyone at work that I was pregnant, she was very excited, and kept on feeding me, despite the fact that I couldn't hold it ... Read Full Story >>
I used to work in a hospital as a Pharmacy Technician. As part of our duties we would make rounds of all the nursing stations to pick up orders deliver medication, etc. On one of my rounds I met an elderly lady. She was sitting outside a room crying. People walked past and saw her crying but nobody offered to help. I stopped and asked if she was okay. She said her husband was in the room - dying. I asked if I could call anyone or do anything for her but she said she didn't have any family near-by and they never had any kids. So, I just sat there a while, holding her hand and listening to her. This went on for weeks, me listening and hugging, and her waiting and crying. Well one day on my rounds I saw her sitting there, not crying. So, I went to sit with ... Read Full Story >>
As a part of my Pay it Foward project revolution, I'm starting the 29 day giving challenge...again! I've done this in the summer, but this time is different because I'm also doing it with some friends from school and some friends here at KindSpring ;) Today, as my first gift, I believe I have given the gift of encouragement and cheer. Looking back , when I had first done this challenge, normally I would think, " What kind of gift is that?" Looking back at that experience now, I realize that these simple gestures mean a lot more then one thinks they do :) Today, some of my friends were a bit gloomy, perhaps because of the weather, some because their schedules got changed (it's a new term for us now at school). There was this one frind from school that had recently gone through a break-up that I didnt know of, ... Read Full Story >>
Last December, following the Friday night performance of our Winter Solstice Celebration, my wife Chez had gone to the Cathedral parking lot to get some gear before taking a taxi to our hotel. When I finally got to the hotel a couple of hours later, Chez realized she was missing a small bag and was sure she’d left it on the ground outside the car. So I said I’d go back and look for it. It was quite a dark and wintry night, and when I arrived back at the Cathedral around 1:30am, the whole area was deserted. I found the all-night security guard and asked him to unlock the gate to the parking lot for me. We walked back to Amsterdam Ave. and up past the front of the Cathedral to the north lot entrance. We were about 50 yards into the lot when we heard a woman’s voice calling ... Read Full Story >>
My friend's husband left her suddenly, taking the car and leaving her with the mortgage. She was left with 3 children to take care of.
My friend had no way to get the kids to school and get to her job on time without a car. I told her I would see to it everything will be okay. I wanted to do something to help her.
Later that day, I drove to her job and handed over the keys to a brand new Cadillac Escalade and the title. This would mean she could get her kids to school and get to her job on time.
The only thing I asked for in return was 1 dollar.
It was a usual day at the hospital. I was running around doing what I needed to get done for my patients. Then I stopped in my tracks because I could feel my cell phone vibrating in my pocket. I almost always keep my phone on. In the event of an emergency my family and friends can that way get in touch with me. It was an emergency. There was a death in my family. I couldn't move. I couldn't think. I was excused early from work that day, but came home to an empty apartment and didn't know what to do next. I cried. I didn't know if I wanted to be alone or phone my close friend. I didn't know if I should have bothered my friend. Death is a sensitive subject for some people. Different people handle it in different ways. What does one say? What does one do? After deliberating for a ... Read Full Story >>