We all go through times that are challenging for us. That's the way life is. Often our challenges are hidden from the world at large. To most of our acquaintances, we continue to look the way that we always have. It's better that way really. Our society frowns on having emotional moments while up at a childrens' soccer game, or in the aisles of the grocery store. Still we all need to know that there are those who know what we are going through...and care.
As I shared on this blog recently, my father is dying from Alzheimer's. Every day, every moment that I am not distracted by something else, I wonder if this will be the day that we lose him. It's like an open wound in my heart that I'm walking around with, but no one can see it. Thankfully I am blessed with a loving family that is here to offer me hugs and tissues when the silent grieving gets to be too much.
It just so happens that a couple of people reached out to me and to my husband recently. One is a cousin of mine, the other an adult nephew by marriage. We don't get to see either person often at all, but they sent us notes and photos, and let us know that despite the distance and infrequent contact, they care.
Several weeks ago, the first unexpected package came. It was a bundle of photos that our nephew had sent to us. Apparently he had been going through his late mother's photos, and set aside those that he thought we would like. He couldn't have know this, but included in those photos was the youngest baby picture of my husband that I've ever seen.
As the youngest of ten children, my husband was photographed only infrequently. It was just not high on the priority list, with so many other things to attend to. I've always thought that the earliest picture of him in existence was from when he was nearly a year old, sitting amongst all of his other siblings. Yet, suddenly I found myself looking at a sweet photo of him as an infant, being held by my late mother-in-law. She was over 40 when she had him, and must surely have been exhausted with so many children to care for, but she looks as happy as a young, first time mother. To me, such a picture is priceless.
The second surprise came just a couple of weeks ago. My cousin (who knows what is going on with my father) sent me a handwritten note and a picture of my parents from nine years ago, before my dad became noticeably sick. They are standing arm in arm, with Fenway Park in the background. My dad was a lifelong Red Sox fan, and considered Fenway to be little less than a shrine. The reminder of happier times was just what I needed.
I'm grateful that there are people like that, who will think of others and reach out to them. Sometimes they do this knowing that the person needs consoling, and other times they do it just because they see an opportunity to offer a kindness to another, and they act upon it. I want to become more like that.
So to my cousin and nephew, and to all of the other giving people in my life, I say a heart felt thank you. Thank you for your unexpected kindnesses, and for helping me to get through this difficult time. The world needs more people like you.