Last week was especially challenging for me as I was without internet for almost three days (I heard a lot of you collectively gasp! Ha, ha!). Being disconnected wasn’t terribly difficult for me but missing deadlines for work and school presented challenges I hadn’t anticipated, including mentally and emotionally. Returning to email and reconnecting meant sifting through almost four hundred email, three of which were relevant and I moved them to my inbox. The rest were trash and were deleted from that folder as well. I miss the days when we received real mail from the mailbox. Growing up, mail delivery day was a special event every week. And sometimes, if Mom was really, really busy she would send one of us children to get the mail. It didn’t happen very often but when it did, I always felt a ripple of excitement run up my back. Even today, when I see someone has actually sent something in the mail, and there is ink on the envelope, I save that letter to the very last as I sort through everything else. That ‘real’ letter has the honour of being savoured and enjoyed along side a cup of tea. I read through it quickly, take a few sips of tea and re-read the message, taking my time and really letting the words sink into my mind and roll around in my head. I enjoy the feel of the stationary against my finger tips and I listen for the crinkle of the paper as I turn the page, it just makes me feel happy. Some things in life are like that … simple little gifts that bring joy to our everyday life. And it doesn’t have to be a letter, it could be a phone call just to say, “hello” or a flower tucked in a mailbox with a note saying “I’m thinking of you.”
Recently I needed to be out and about for a medical visit and I noticed one of our elders struggling to stop her wheelchair from rolling as she tried to grasp a corner of her lapghan (a quilt that covers the lap, that can be crocheted or sewn , used to keep warm) as it had fallen to the sidewalk. She wasn’t having much success and I moved toward her to assist her. A young man, perhaps twenty years of age, left his vehicle and ran over to help her. He retrieved her blanket, put it around her legs and tucked it in so it wouldn’t fall again. He asked her if there was someone who was with her and, when he learned she was alone, he asked her if he could help her inside the medical facility we were visiting. The way he spoke with her and made her feel like she was the most important part of his day really deeply touched me. I’m used to people barely glancing up when entering a public space, they keep their eyes peeled on the electronic gadgets in front of their face and have little regard for the person standing in front of them. And when I do have their attention, they either rush me or have no idea how to kindly assist me without leaving the impression I am wasting their precious time and they’d prefer I’d just move along so they can return to their previous activities. Usually, I’m not a person who will say anything when someone treats me this way however, a couple of weeks ago I phoned my doctor regarding an ongoing issue he is familiar with. Unfortunately I phoned on a day his nurse was away and I was “helped” by a young woman who seems quite adept at quickly speaking over someone and ignoring what they are saying in favour of telling the client what she is willing to do rather than actually doing what has been asked. The third time she spoke over me I asked when the nurse would be back in the office. I said I would call back when she was in and speak with her as she actually allows me to complete a full sentence without interrupting and she has the courtesy of adding my name to a callback list if an appointment becomes available due to cancellation. I see signs posted in a lot of places advising the public bullying, abusive speech and aggressive behaviour will not be tolerated however, sometimes I think we should wear a lapel card with bold letters bearing the same message for the person serving us to read and keep in mind as well. And I did phone back, talked with my doctor’s nurse and received the documentation I requested without any difficulties at all. As for the young man who helped the elderly lady… he was back behind the wheel of his expensive sports car and on his way after spending about twenty minutes of his time assisting the woman to ensure she was comfortable and wouldn’t experience any further mishaps while she waited for her ride. Like the letter in the mail, watching this young man interact in such a comfortable and charismatic way just gave me such a feeling of gratitude that I was able to witness their interaction. It’s nice to know there are still people who go out of their way to help.’
I know that people will help strangers from first hand experience too. A couple of weeks ago I was struggling to regain my strength after fighting an infection that left me quite shaky on my feet. I’d fallen earlier in the week and now, outside of a major box office store, I went down again. And for the life of me, I just couldn’t get back up on my feet. Adrenaline coursed through my body and I visibly shook but, stubbornly, I refused offer after offer as people attempted to provide their help. Fifteen minutes later I admitted that I couldn’t do it on my own and a couple who’d finished their lunch were happy to give me a hand. Antibiotics have since helped me feel stronger as I continue to monitor and discuss symptoms with my doctor.
Over the last three and a half years my life has changed in ways I’ve never expected. Some have been positive changes and others … not so much. But I’ve learned to take those negative changes and adapt with them, knowing that life as I knew it will never be the same again. And I’m learning to be okay with that. Many of my challenges are invisible to other people so when they note the inconsistency in who I was verses who I am now, they advise I take vitamins, see my doctor, get more sleep or simply, “snap out of it” as if that’s a viable option. If there was a “magical” pill or an act of faith I could do to “cure” me, I would have done it and yelled the solution from the rooftops. Unfortunately the only solutions offered for the miladies I’ve encountered include medicinal plants from jungles I’ve never heard of and money transactions that can only be a scam, neither of which are conducive to the simple and drama free way of life I crave. Lately, the lyrics to a song run through my mind and nostalgia seeps into my musings. I don’t know the artist who sang the song but the words I keep remembering are; “Grandpa, tell me about the good old days/where the lines between right and wrong/didn’t seem so hazy.” I guess I needed the experiences mentioned in my writing this week… I needed a reminder that the world isn’t quite as crazy as news headlines and social media would have me believe. There are still people, just like me, who are looking for simple things in life that bring them joy and give them a feeling of purpose. Do you ever wonder what you need in your life to find pleasure in the simple things? Not the things that cost money but just simple little gestures that seem small but bring a smile to ones face (and heart) and, at the end of the day, that moment becomes the highlight of your day. Once in a while, do something to brighten someone else’s day and see if you don’t feel a little more light hearted because of it. Let someone cut in line in front of you at the super market checkout, help someone safely cross the street, bring a sick friend chicken soup or pay for the order of the person behind you at Tim Horton’s drive thru. It’s a small gesture that means so much. Try it and find out for yourself.
Take care and have a great week, everyone.