Monday, April 25, 2011

Simple Gestures MEAN A LOT!!!

(After my not so nice things to say about HP Support, I thought I'd quickly give a much more positive thought, so my complaining doesn't show up at the top of my blog for long.)

Easter was fun!  We took the kids to the city rec. complex where they had 4 baseball diamonds full of "hidden" Easter eggs for the kids to go and "find".  (I used quotes since the eggs seemed to be tossed loosely out in the grass of the outfield--even so, it was a fun event for the kids.)  The goal was for each kid to find an egg with a number on it.  If you get a numbered egg, you were entitled to redeem it for an Easter basket full of goodies.  Preparation (despite the "hiding" job) had to have taken hours of several people's time.  All the eggs that didn't have numbers were neatly stuffed with candy.  The gathering of the eggs took SECONDS!

The amazing part of the event was that from community business donations and the serviceable effort of the local chapter of the Lions Club, there were over 600 Easter baskets available for the children.  The Lions Club passed them out individually to each kid that brought up a numbered egg.  They also limited baskets to one per kid--so those who collected multiple numbered eggs passed them along to those who were not so fortunate.

My son and daughter--although they each collected multiple eggs--didn't receive a numbered egg.

But after waiting in the "losers line" for what seemed like an eternity (probably 7 minutes or so;) they finally received one of the numbered eggs that had been passed along, and got a basket.

All's well that ends well.

The neat part to me (in addition to the heart warming appreciation I had for this little community [total population maybe 3,000] who so generously donated SIX HUNDRED Easter Baskets full of REALLY good candy--like 4.5oz solid Dove chocolate bunnies and boutique quality chocolate covered mint candies, etc--as well as the time necessary to execute the event, a professional D.J. who acted as M.C.--also time/equipment donated, etc. etc. etc.) . . . In addition to all that, the really cool thing to me was that, on our way to our car, FIVE different people checked with our family to make sure EACH of our children had received a basket--and offered to give them the one THEY had received if we hadn't.  These people weren't part of the volunteers working at the event; they weren't friends or even people we knew.  They were just concerned neighbors at a community event who wanted to make sure my children had a positive experience.

It's funny how meaningful that whole experience was for me.  I don't think I appreciate often enough the things people do on my behalf.

It's also fun to give.  We've been dealing with flooding in our neighborhood.

I got a call the other night asking if I would be willing to go help fill and place sandbags in order to try and save some homes.  I started out in the fairgrounds filling bags.  After filling only 20 or 30 bags, the operation director indicated that there were new breaches in the river banks by the homes behind the Field Street church and he needed a few volunteers to go there to help save the homes.  I went with 4 of my close neighbors (and several more that I didn't know) to see what we could do.  Upon arriving, I met up with Dan Dixon--a man who has been a bit of a mentor and role model of mine for some years--working in the sloppy mess of the flooding river.  Despite the urgency of the moment, he smiled warmly to greet me.  Since he had moved out of my immediate neighborhood some time ago, it had been a while since I had seen him and he asked about my family, work, and life in general as we worked to build sand bag walls to plug the breach.

After several hours of working, I went home very wet, very dirty, and very cold.  But I went home happy and grateful for  1.  the opportunity to help,  2.  the success we had (the home didn't flood that night),  3.  a community where people care about their neighbors--even when they don't know them personally.  I was truly moved by the literally hundreds of "Dan Dixons" I got to work with that night who were willing to work hard to preserve the interests of community members.  (OK, so the "hundreds" is literal; the "Dan Dixons" is metaphorical--they weren't literally all Dan Dixon.  As cool as he is, that would be a little Twilight-Zone-esque.)

Certainly saving homes is more important than helping my kids pass the "boring parts" of church a little more easily.  Yet, I was touched almost as deeply as my observation of the flood volunteers when a kind older gentleman sitting on the pew behind us overheard a conversation I had with my 4-year-old son.  "Dad, can I have a pen?" he asked, while holding the little scratch pad he had worked hard to find in his mother's bag.  "I'm sorry, I gave my pen to Britt, (his 7-year-old sister)" I told him--sorry that I couldn't oblige.  As the boy looked down disappointed, I felt a tap on my shoulder as the older man behind us pushed a pen into my hand saying, "I've been there before" with a smile on his face.  My son was saved from the remaining 35 minutes he would have had to bear of brother Mulman's sermon.  ;)  What a simple thing.  What a simple, small little thing this man offered.  Yet, he offered it.  He saw a need and he helped!

One final "simple gesture" I observed this week was a letter my wife received from a woman we know from church.  She's one generation ahead of us, and while we see her at church and appreciate her sweet nature, we don't really have any particular ties to her--except that she has a son who, 20 years ago, needed the same surgery our 11-month-old daughter will be having on May 5th to repair the hole in her heart that is creating her congestive heart failure.  This kind woman took the time to write a 4-page hand-written letter with some thoughts of comfort for our family.  She's not family.  She doesn't have any specific 'church assignment' to look after us.  We don't really even talk much.  Yet, she took the time to reach out to us. . . to put her proverbial arms around our family to say, "I know what you're going through, and I care!"  What a simple, simple little gesture it was--yet, how meaningful to my wife and me!  Even now, I can't think of this kindness without tears of gratitude streaming down my face.

Here's my wife's account:

It's simple thoughtfulness like this--the donation of time and resources to entertain children, neighbors working urgently to save the property of other members of the community as if it were their own, sharing knowledge, wisdom, and experience that will lighten the burden of someone in need. . .  It is really the simple gestures that build men and women. . .   that make others sincerely want to give more, be more, and DO more good with their lives!  At least that's what it has done for me.


Andrea said...

I have to admit, I fought tears at the end of the egg hunt for the EXACT reason you describe. Sometimes I wish I lived there too!

Lhone said...

I have loved the people we live by. They are so amazing that it is overwhelming to think that they still pour out the love and concern for our family. I only hope to do the same for others one day. I'm glad you went sand bagging. I'm sure the family appreciated it. Thanks for your thoughts. I love hearing your thoughts.

Dean and Cindy Hatch said...

The lady who's home you saved came to church Sunday. She has lived here longer than us, but this is the first time I have seen her at church. She was overcome with gratitude for so many coming to her aid. The really amazing thing was I had a nice talk with her and didn't even feel any animosity against her for selling some of her land to the church and ruining our view.

Wade Hone said...

I love reading your Blog posts Blaine, I don't post ever y time I drop by, but I DO enjoy it every time that I do.