Friday, December 5, 2008

Sometimes, Life Sucks

There’s a grandmother who doesn’t live that far from me. I don’t know her name. I don’t know how old she is. But I know that this grandmother is dying. I know that she is suffering. And I know that after she is gone, four little children will continue to suffer on her behalf.

This grandmother is raising four grandchildren – ages 2 to 12 – while simultaneously battling both bone and breast cancer. Even as she prepares for a second mastectomy in the months ahead, her prognosis is not good. This may very well be her last holiday season.

The good news, as if there can be much in a situation this grave, is that her little family is among those to benefit from our office’s holiday charity program. Why, you may ask, is that good news? Well, I just happen to work with not only some of the smartest and most dedicated people in the business, but many of them just happen to have hearts of gold, too. Several of them have been touched just as deeply as I have by the tragic plight of this family.

One colleague has asked what, if anything, we can do for grandma. I have repeatedly tried to pry something out of the social worker that we can do just for her, but all she wants is some new clothes and toys for the children. (Well, she’ll be getting that in abundance. Plus, there will be lots of groceries and cleaning supplies as well as gift cards for whatever we don’t get that she may need. We can’t heal her, but boy can we make sure she gets what she has asked for those kids.)

This colleague and her family have made helping this family and some of the other sad cases that we’re helping, how they will celebrate their Christmas. “My family doesn’t really need anything and we’re so blessed,” she said. “We just think it’s more important to help those who aren’t so lucky.” I nearly wept.

I’ll admit, I was worried about our program this year. Even at a big company with many employees who generally make a good living. I was afraid that because each of us is feeling the economy’s squeeze in a variety of ways, and because this effort was quick on the heels of a hugely successful United Way campaign, that people would just deem it too much. It would be more than they could do.

I’m happy to report that I was wrong. Nearly half of the gift tags for our floor’s tree were gone before they were even put up. Gifts are already piling up in a corner of my office. And a handful of my colleagues have simply handed me money. “Get whatever we need,” one said.

I even got an email this week from a contractor – someone who isn’t really a company employee, doesn’t even work in the office – asking if he could contribute to the program.

Some of the other floors are moving a little more slowly while others are going about as well as ours. I have complete faith that by the 18th, when the program wraps up, we’ll have what we’ve asked for. And probably more than that. How can I be so sure? I think another colleague said it best.“There’s an awful lot of need out there,” he said. “I think that just makes people want to give that much more.”

My colleagues already are proving him so right.


Gene said...

Thank you.

Karen Anne said...

I'll bet what the grandmother could use is people to help with errands like getting groceries, driving to the doctor's, stuff like that. With four kids there must be a lot of things like that for her and them that need doing, and she must not feel up to it most of the time.

krissy said...

Oh, wow. What a beautiful post, I am so happy you work in such a wonderful office. My heart breaks for situations like this, and that's when I realize that my family and I have everything we need!

NV said...

Gene -- You're welcome! :-)

Karen Anne -- You're right -- and for the most part, she has that. The social worker and an extended family do what they can to make all that happen.

krissy -- Thanks! I am so blessed to be surrounded by such kind and generous people and to be given the opportunity to enable good where it's needed so greatly.

Jenners said...

Visiting via BPOTW...

Thanks for sharing this... always nice to hear of goodness in the world.

And I love the header on your blog.

Vicki said...

Amazing, amazing. I wish Americans were so willing to be so giving throughout the year. Maybe they are and we just don't tap into that desire. Maybe they are and I just don't hear about it as much when it's not Christmas.

Thanks for doing all that you're doing at your company. And I hope y'all are able to find a way to give something specifically to the grandmother.

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