Friday, September 30, 2011

The Gift of Giving

In a hospital bed I wrestled with the belief that this was the last day of my life. I was 33 years old and a single mom to two children ages 14 and 10 years. I was paralyzed on my left side and recovering from a brain surgery that removed a portion of a tumor that had invaded my brain.

A shroud of uncertainty provided a stark contrast on which little miracles played out daily. Family and friends did a great job of making my children feel secure. Meals arrived at my parents’ house to nourish weary bodies. Each day was a gift. Each face that appeared with gifts of love and concern was treasured. Cards, prayers and love flooded my room, overwhelming and humbling me.

In the meantime, my physical status continued to deteriorate. Answers were out numbered by questions. I was unable to wash my hair or have a shower for the first weeks. All I wanted was a clean mouth but the hospital didn’t offer mouth wash or toothpaste. With my energy in short supply I was grateful for family and friends who celebrated small moments and hard won achievements with me.

My aunt thought long and hard about how she could help. She decided to give the kids money to buy something special just for them. I was relieved that people were keeping my kids in their thoughts so I could focus on my recovery.

The days in hospital were long and exhausting. One day I returned to my room from a therapy session and found a little box on my bedside table. It was made up in Christmas colours and adorned the Salvation Army symbol. It contained shampoo, soap, and a toothbrush and toothpaste. I was so moved by the gesture that unknowing people offered me during this difficult time. When my family came to visit that evening I told them of the kind gift I got from strangers.
Later that evening it was time for the kids to go and spend the money that was given to them. My daughter bought clothing and had a wonderful time with my fashion savvy aunt. They laughed and shared advice, both treasuring the time together. My son patiently waited for his turn to shop, thoughtfully considering how he would spend his money.

When his time came, he bought a pair of shoes from a discount store. Upon leaving the store the sound of a bell ringing caught his attention. He walked away from his aunt and sister and approached a Salvation Army bell ringer in the mall. My aunt and his sister were amazed as he deposited all the money he had left. He thanked the bell ringer and said here is some money so you can help other people like you helped my mom.


Anonymous said...

I am so thankful to rub shoulders with you.


Kim said...

Thanks Gwen, this is true for me too. I just hope we will be able to get together soon!

nicole said...

Sounds like you are doing a good job.

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” Maya Angelou