Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Greatest Gift is YOU!

A couple years ago, a woman named Felicia lived across the driveway from me. She was an older, sixty-something gal. Not a lot of people in the neighborhood liked Felicia because she tended to be crotchety. She didn’t like any of the neighbors either. Actually, as far as I could tell, she didn’t like anyone. Wait. That’s not true. Felicia liked children, and she liked me. I liked her too. We’d hang out together between the driveways and talk about our gardens, politics and her volunteer activities. One day Felicia waved me over to ask me a question. She said, "What do you think of Tomato-Red?"

I nodded quizzically, "Sure?"

"For my house. I’m thinking about painting my house Tomato-Red. My son thinks it’s too bright, but I think it would be cheerful and add some flair to the neighborhood." As she said the word flair she dramatically flipped her hair and waved a hand in the air.

With a wide grin of approval, I agreed. "You have fantastic taste, Felicia. What could your son possibly know about flair?"

"I knew you’d understand, but I thought I should ask you anyway since you live right next door. I don’t care if anyone else around here likes it or not, but I wanted your approval beforehand." Felicia was thoughtful that way.

Later that week I realized that Felicia probably didn’t have the money to buy paint and hire painters. She was on a limited income, and any extra money was usually donated to charity. She was also disabled and wouldn’t be able to do any of the painting herself. However, I just couldn’t shake the image of her delighted face as she talked about her Tomato-Red house. I decided to organize a painting party the following spring.

Spring came and I found myself horribly busy getting ready for a friend’s wedding. I didn’t have a minute to myself, but I vowed that as soon as it was over, I’d get Felicia’s house painted. It would be a fabulous surprise. I’d already talked with half a dozen friends. Even my Dad was willing to come down for a weekend to help. If everyone pitched in ten or twenty bucks and we spent 2 days working on it, Felicia would have a gorgeous Tomato-Red house. It was a good plan. I just needed a little more time. Just more time.


The day after the wedding, I got the sad news. I was having breakfast with my parents in the Raleigh-Marriott restaurant when my roommate called to tell me that Felicia had died. I knew she’d been sick, but I didn’t realize it was so serious. No one did.

Felicia’s house was sold a month later. The new owners put tan siding on it, almost exactly the color of my house. It’s horribly ugly. I frequently have to fight the urge to sneak over in the middle of the night and paint it Tomato-Red.

>>>>>>>>>>>

Have you ever wished you hadn’t waited to show your love? Have you ever wanted another chance? Have you ever let complications, distractions or doubt, keep you from doing what’s in your heart?

>>>>>>>>>>>

My blog-mate, fellow Hot Chik, and dearest friend, Lu is having a really tough time these days. As some of you know, she suffers from severe Bi-Polar Disorder. Her symptoms are debilitating and extremely painful. Pharmaceutical treatments that typically help other people don’t work well for her. Currently, she’s undergoing a change in medications, and while that’s happening, her symptoms are worse than usual. As someone who loves her, it’s hard to see her suffering.

Earlier today, Lu asked me to spend some time with her. Thankfully, she asked for help. Sometimes I ask her for help too. It’s nice that we can do that for each other.

While we were talking, Lu told me that it’s really hard for her to live in her house while she’s experiencing such severe Depression. Her house is currently very disorganized, cluttered and in need of a thorough cleaning. It’s definitely not something a woman with severe Depression can tackle.

It took a while, but I finally managed to convince Lu that it’s okay to ask her friends to help her. People who love her will be glad to help. If they know that a few hours of washing dishes, vacuuming, and sorting & organizing will make her life easier for a while, wild horses won’t be able to stop them. This is how it is when people love each other.

A clean house isn’t going to cure Lu’s Bi-Polar Disorder. However, if it eases her suffering enough that she doesn’t have to go to the hospital, we will essentially be giving her the gift of freedom. That’s a pretty amazing thing. In fact, it’s almost as if Lu is giving us a gift. Finally, after all this time of watching her struggle with this horrible illness, there’s something we can do to help. Not only that, but if I have anything to do with it, it’s going to be a hell of a fun party! Anyone who doesn’t show up is going to be sorry they missed it.

>>>>>>>>>>>

Have you ever been in a situation where someone you love was sick or hurt and you didn’t know what to do to help? Have you ever watched helplessly while someone you care for suffered? Have you ever felt powerless because you couldn’t think of a way to make it better?

>>>>>>>>>>>

The Keep Lu Out of the Loonie Bin Party is Saturday July 29th. All our friends are welcome to attend. If you’re our friend and want to attend, call or write to me as soon as possible.
(Space may be limited.)

16 Comments:

At 11:54 PM, Blogger gnightgirl said...

My father-in-law kept photos of my husband's ex-girlfriend up in his home. He belittled and intimidated me, until I delivered his grandson.

He fell ill to liver cancer when our son was two. I took him over to see his grandfather as often as possible, while my husband worked nights. He once gave my son a hug and fell apart sobbing, and I was still so afraid of him that I just stood there. The guy had never hugged me in his life, and I wasn't sure that he'd want one from me. I was paralyzed.

I did NOT know what to do, to help.

My husband then later chewed me out for not responding more kindly. It is one of my life's greatest regrets, not having the courage to hug this guy that scared the devil out of me.

Do over.

 
At 12:47 AM, Blogger nosthegametoo said...

Looking back, I can think of several instances where I shouldn’t have waited to show my love for someone. Now, I try to ask myself, “waiting for what?” I suppose it can be hard to understand that there is no “perfect” time… at least for me it is. In more instances than I would like to remember, I have made my life more complicated.

I think most people have felt helplessness in the face of suffering at one time or another. Sometimes, there really isn’t anything you can “do” to help. In those times, I just try to ease the suffering the best way I can. Your idea of cleaning her place is fabulous. I’ve known people suffering from debilitating depression, a clean home can make all the difference in the world.

Once again, Theresa, you are really something special. You got a twin sister in Chicago or something???

Peace and Love.

 
At 8:12 AM, Blogger Steve said...

I would, personally, rather live with rejection, then live with any regrets.

 
At 8:27 AM, Blogger theresa said...

GNGirl - Regret, or lessons learned?
I wish I could have followed through with my plan, but in reality, I did the best I could at the time. Hindsight gives a very different picture. Knowing what I know now, I'd definitely make different choices.
It's the same for you. You did the best you could with the information you had. You already know that you're a good person. The other person involved (the father-in-law) played a part in developing the relationship dynamic. Sick or not, he created a relationship with you where you didn't feel safe with him. Don't spend a single second beating yourself up.

Nosthegametoo - Thank you for your support of our cleaning party plan. As of 8:00am, I already have people committed to participating. It's very exciting!!! Who knows, maybe there will be so many people, all I'll have to do is walk from room to room and shout, "GOOD JOB! Keep it up!" all day.

Did you mean my identical twin sister who's 15 years younger than me who lives in Skokie?

Steve - I hate both, but I agree that it's better to take a risk than to miss an opportunity.

 
At 1:51 PM, Blogger HAIRYBEARS said...

HELLO

GREAT POST

KISSES FROM BRAZIL

 
At 7:15 AM, Blogger Unacknowledged Genius said...

I think you're one of the most genuinely good people I have ever come across. I'd be there if I could.

 
At 7:41 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Hairy - thanks

U-genius - Actually, I was thinking that if I get enough other people over to Lu's house this Saturday, I won't have to do a damn thing myself. I can just walk from room to room and say "Good job!" or "Hey! You missed a spot."

 
At 10:00 AM, Blogger joy said...

T-
you are an amazingly thoughtful and caring woman. this post has triggered some stuff for me. good stuff and painful stuff. however, it was a powerful reminder that life can be short and how important it is to care for and serve others while we are still here on earth.

 
At 9:25 PM, Blogger JayneSays said...

Have you ever wished you hadn’t waited to show your love? Have you ever wanted another chance? Have you ever let complications, distractions or doubt, keep you from doing what’s in your heart?

Yes, yes and yes. But I'll have this post in my back pocket for a good kick in the ass for next time! Have a good cleaning party - what a wonderful gesture that will make everyone feel good. Even me, just hearing about it, so thanks for that, Hot Stuff! : )

 
At 9:53 AM, Blogger ZooooM said...

I had tried to comment on this a while back, and blogger was eating my comments - and then after that, decided it was just going to flash error messages at me no matter what I wrote.

THIS is an amazing thing, from an amazing woman, to a fellow amazing woman.

It's the triple A threat of greatness.

 
At 3:17 PM, Blogger nosthegametoo said...

Congratulations on your efforts to organize a cleaning party. You must be a very caring and thoughtful friend to organize such a thing.

And wow, a twin sister who’s 15 years younger??? That’s not too far from Chicago, as you know. How lucky am I??

But then again, who am I kidding, I just want Theresa.

Peace and Love

 
At 10:21 AM, Blogger theresa said...

Joy - Unless you're standing in line at the DMV, life is indeed, too short.

Jayne - Thanks for the good wishes!
Maybe this will motivate me to clean my own messy house!

Zooom - Thanks Zoooomy. I'll take a big bag of your Zooooomilicious enthusiasm with me in case I start draggin'.

Nos - Thanks for your support.
... And when you flatter me like that, it makes me blush.

 
At 12:57 PM, Blogger AndyT13 said...

You are the best of the best T.
I have rarely encountered anyone in the real or cyber world with as much love, kindness and understanding as you. You will surely be elevated to karmic heights us devils can only imagine.
I salute you. Rock. On.

 
At 2:55 PM, Blogger Polyman2 said...

My wife had a great uncle who was a retired baptist minister, a terrific carpenter and an advid gardener with a great sense of humor. I loved when we visited him.
He died last year at 91 and I've always kicked myself that I never got to know him better. He was surely a great man.
This post really made me think. Thanks

 
At 5:49 PM, Blogger theresa said...

Andy - Ack! Maybe this is only part of the story. Perhaps I'm only compensating for all the horrible, naughty, mean things I do. I mean, I screen ALL my calls, I don't always pay my bills on time, and I occassionally get sloppy when separating my recycling. Oh, and my Dad's Father's Day card is still lying here next to the computer. As human beings go, I pretty much suck.
Despite being misled, you're very sweet!

Polyman - Sounds like your Uncle-in-law was quite the guy. There never seems to be enough time, and all too often we realize we should have MADE the time after it's too late. You know you aren't alone with that feeling.

 
At 10:53 AM, Blogger Aquilo Novo said...

Dear Theresa!
I wanna say to you: Thanks you for blogging. My english to bad to read english texts, but i keep reading your blog - thats so nice ;)

I hope you keep writing your blog. Have a big luck, have a fun by doing this!

Blog reader, Andrew.

 

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