Reflections Archives

Lend a Helping Hand

One of our neighbors is in trouble. It has taken me a long while to realize that I have been doing everything but help her.

When our fourth child was born with a recessed jaw, causing her to need a trach and feeding tube, I began to live a winter of isolation confined to a small rental home with four small children–one having special needs.

A year later our fifth child was born with the same needs as his older sister.

Upon his birth a neighbor came to bring a meal. As she stood on our stoop she said she had been telling people at her church about our situation. They all agreed we had no business having a fifth child.

I thanked her for the meal and her offer of ‘help’ she had brought to my door.

A few years ago my brother lost his wife suddenly, at a young age. People did not phone or visit. They did not know what to do or say.

After these incidents I thought often of the help people could give.
The help I wanted and needed most was for someone to lend a helping hand.

How great it would be for someone to bring a meal without a lecture about our choices in life. What a miracle it would have been for someone to arrive with groceries or to do a load of laundry. Why didn’t anyone offer this kind of help when it was so simple?

Our neighbor has been suffering from shoulder pain. I have offered various stories about my own pain and suggestions as to what she might do. Why wasn’t I offering her any real help?

At last it finally came to me, like a familiar breeze off of Lake Monona on an early spring day after another Wisconsin winter has left me numb. Offer to do something simple like grocery shop, cook–or do a load of laundry.

She was grateful for the offer but did not take me up on it at this time.

As for me I was glad to finally offer the only thing that I should–genuine help.

While making a deposit at the UW Credit Union ATM machine this morning, I glanced out the passenger side window at this view of Roselawn cemetery in Monona:

View of Roselawn Cemetery in Monona from the UWCU ATM machine

The proximity of the cemetery to these ATM machines is always a good reminder to me that you can’t take your money with you when you’re gone.

It’s only money so I shouldn’t worry so much about it.

And it makes me feel grateful that I’m still vertical and on the ATM side of the street.

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