I hope that by the time you are reading this, my next statement will be untrue, but your mom is not always a nice person. Not that I am mean necessarily; it’s just that I don’t do things that are nice. When I see someone with a new haircut, I often think it’s cute, but I don’t say anything. I may like someone’s outfit, once again, I say nothing. I don’t usually offer to help. I don’t go out of my way to do things for others. I don’t return phone calls, and I don’t keep in touch with friends, even though I care for them deeply. I often think about nice things to say or do, but I don’t say or do them. One thing I learned when my mother died was just how meaningful a small act can be.
About 3 or 4 years ago, a former co-worker of mine lost both of her parents in a house fire. This co-worker and I had been close from time to time while we worked together, but we had grown apart and didn’t see each other anymore after I changed jobs. My heart broke for her, and I honestly could not imagine how she was feeling. I cried for her and prayed for her, sent her a private Facebook message and emailed her current coworkers to check up on her, but I never went to visit. I didn’t go to the visitation or the funeral, I didn’t stop by the house, I didn’t call her on the phone or actually mail a note saying that I was thinking of her. I didn’t think she would want to be bothered, I didn’t think it would make a difference if she saw me.
The day of your Maw Maw’s visitation, this coworker was the third or fourth person in line. She was at the funeral home before I even got there. As she walked in with several of my former coworkers, other people that I had at times failed to do simple things for, I was overcome with a feeling of support that I cannot quite describe.
The night that your Maw Maw died, I had stood outside for hours in the October air and it was chilly. One of the women working with the coroner’s office had given me her jacket, but she was cold as well so I had given it back. When the parents of one of your Uncle Michael’s old friends showed up, they brought sweatshirts and coats for us, being able to do something as simple as slip on an old Carhart jacket was a simple act that made the night easier for me.
In the days surrounding your Maw Maw’s death and funeral, our house was filled with family and friends. People showed up with food and drinks. You thought we were having a party, and when you talk about anything that happened during those days, you talk about when we had the parties at our house. My cousins brought tables and chairs to accommodate the crowd, and coolers for the leftover food. Other cousins organized meals and cleaned up after the rush. I was never in need of a babysitter as I dashed from place to place. A friend from work drove you to my school so that you could still participate in cheer camp, like Maw Maw and I had wanted you to.
There were a hundred things that were done during those days that I can hardly remember and would have never known to ask for. I honestly wouldn’t have made it through without the daily help of my family and friends at our house, and those few bursts of support that came through the door of the visitation and the funeral. Every time I told those people thank you, they waved it off. They said it was no big deal or they wished they could have done more. But the thing is, they did exactly what I needed, and that is a big deal. Small things, baby girl, are big deals. So always, always do the small things.
So, I’m going to try. I’m 30 years old, and I’m hoping you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. I’m going to start with the billions of thank you notes for the people who showed me kindness when I needed it and then work my way out. I’m pretty sure that I won’t change the world by doing small things, but I’m pretty sure I won’t hurt anyone either (including myself). Life is too short not to be kind to those around you. So smile, hold open doors, let others go first in line, say nice things, be there for someone even if you think you’re not the one they want; brighten someone else’s day, baby girl. You never know if you’re particular light is the one they need to brighten their dark moment.
|For my 30th birthday you and Andrew and Maw Maw and Paw Paw picked out a special cake and flowers for me.|
|I can always count on you to pick up the slack in the mommy department (even if no one asks for or needs it).|
|Had to get one of my boys too. Andrew loves to help out also.|