Sure, I bought some of those things for this person, but I need to recognize the much-too-often unrecognized kindness, generosity, and big heart of one of the most important people in my life. She has been with me for 39 years, often when no one else was. I fall in love with her more and more each day and cherish her now, more than ever.
That's what I grew up calling her. That's what she always called me. It's a "thing."
My Christmas wish this year is for her to be recognized as the fantastic person that she is. How can I relay to all of you (and her) what I see in her? I guess I'll just have to shine a light on what I see her doing, that no one really knows about. Just in the last few months this is what I have seen her do:
I'll start back in July when we went to Florida for our Dream Vacation.
She paid for me to go. Sure, I paid for additional expenses, but she paid for the trip; airfare, hotel, rental car, and everything. Then, when we got to JAX, we had a most wonderful young man named Jabari who helped us with our bags and rental car. Tip him? Of course. $50? That's my sister. She was so impressed with him, as was I. He was just such a kind soul. That's what she does. That's who she is. By the way, she made sure the rental car employee called for Jabari so he could help us when we got to the airport to leave for home. Yep...that meant another tip.
At the start of the new school year, she finally told me that she donated money to the school to purchase several computers for the kids who couldn't afford them. Our school moved from textbooks to laptop computers and large backpacks for them. This at a cost of almost $100 per student. I was going to go to our local paper about this but, I am ashamed to say, I got too busy. The school principal was surprised to get this donation for this purpose. She said no one had done this before. No one! When I found this out, I was in disbelief! This gave my sister a great idea. She told her daughter and me that each year we should have a fundraiser with a bake sale, craft sale, car wash and the like to raise money for this purpose. Now THAT I will be sure to go to the paper about.
The other day we were going into Hobby Lobby in Fairview Heights and there was a young male bell ringer for the Salvation Army opening the door for us. He was so nice. Not that "I have to be nice because I am representing something" kind of nice, but an authentic "Merry Christmas, you have a blessed day, Ladies" kind of nice. I reached into my purse for my wallet. He said I could just do it when I came out, if I wanted to (give a donation). I put in my $2, but my sister said she would give hers when we came out. We went into the store and she turned to me and said, "Would it be stupid to give him a $20? Just for him?" I said, Of course not!!! I love when you do things like that! It's money you would probably end up spending on something useless at one point, anyway."
So, we turned right around and went straight back to the exit. She wanted to do it right then, in case he was gone when we came back out. She approached the door, he opened it and she took his hand. He was a bit confused, until she folded that $20 into his hand and told him, "This is for you, just for you." He thanked her with a "God bless you and Merry Christmas..." but was a little taken aback. We turned and went back into the store, me doing a "clappy dance" and my sister's eyes all welled up with emotion. I acted like I didn't notice, I didn't want to embarrass her, but I did. I noticed. She touches me.
We won't know if he really kept it or put it into the bucket, but it was intended to make his own holiday a bit brighter. When we left, he was, indeed, gone. Completely gone. I don't know the circumstances behind how one becomes a bell ringer for the Salvation Army, whether it be volunteer work, community service, a paid position. But this man's soul touched our souls. And every little bit of kindness in this world helps.
It helped him and I hope that he passed it on. It helped her, as she struggles much in her life and these moments for her help chisel away at any walls she may have. As for me? My faith grows more and more each day when I witness these miracles. They are miracles. And seeing the reality of them renews me in ways that keeps me working towards my hope that this world will someday change and my goal to be a part of it.
One last thing. Last night after working her shift as a nurse, she came and got me and we went on a little late night "Santa Claus-ing." I had puled a name from the Angel Tree (the trees that stand in stores such as Wal-Mart with a colored piece of paper with an angel on it and a wish list for a child in need) with the intentions of shopping for this little 7 year old girl for Christmas. It got late, time got away from me, and the only time I had to make this wish come true was last night. She had been all in from the start, but, like I said, the holidays are busy and stressful for all of us and time just slipped away. Even though we had almost run out of time, she committed to go with me after work last night to shop for this little girl. You should have seen her. We found so many cute things--it was ALL my sister. She knows how to shop for the most perfect gifts. I found a few things, but she is the master! We would have been there all night and bought her absolutely everything on her little list if she had her way. (PS. Our Pop helped out, too, to be sure this child had a great Christmas!)
Noah and I delivered all of her toys and clothes and shoes and girly things this morning to Angel Headquarters. We felt like real-life Elves! That's the best Christmas ever!
As for Pammie...
I love you more than you can know. I am so proud of the changes you have made, and will continue to make. You are a beautiful person with a beautiful heart.
I will cherish you forever...