Who's with me on this one? You have a friend, acquaintance or family member that's going through a rough time...any kind of rough time...serious or not so. You want to do something for them but WHAT? It seems so disingenuous to say, "Please let me know if there's anything I can do". People very seldom take you up on that. And I'm not big on the typical offerings of food or flowers even though I love food and flowers. The person you're concerned about MUST need something. If only you knew what it was. It's also possible that they don't even know what they want or need. Or what they want or need is something NO ONE can give them. You aren't a miracle worker but you do want to help.
I would call it a GIFT that I received from two lovely women this weekend. One is battling disease and I wanted desperately to do something for her. I asked her to lunch but, understandably she wasn't feeling up for that. She has a family that does most of what she needs and she is able to do most of what she has always done. Toward the end of our conversation I asked again if there was anything she needed and she asked me if I would oversee her "hair situation" as she would soon have a new "hair reality". I'm a barber so that was the perfect request. We discussed possible haircuts, hats, scarves and wigs and came up with a plan for the next couple of weeks. I hope it relieved a little of her anxiety about her next hurdle and am thrilled to be able to do it. For her to ask specifically for what she needed from me felt like a GIFT. It made me happy.
Another friend recently moved her elderly mother across the country to live with her. Rather than put her mother in a care facility she brought her into her home. In order to do that my friend has been living in the chaos of a renovation for the last several months getting her home ready to receive her mother. When I went over to share a glass of wine with her over the weekend she mentioned having to undress in the dark in her remodeled basement bedroom because there were no curtains. When I offered to make curtains for her she said said "YES". She wasn't coy or too proud and she allowed me to help her. Getting out early on Sunday morning and purchasing the curtain rods coming home and stitching up some simple curtains from fabric I had gave me such JOY. I am so grateful she let me do this for her. It was a lovely moment between us when we hung them up, sunlight making it's way through but no prying eyes.
My sister reminded me tonight about being gracious when someone does offer something. She offered to pay for a lunch she had with a couple of colleagues and rather than an argument breaking out that often happens when one person offers to pay after a meal, both women kindly accepted and thanked her very much. It made my sister very happy to be able to offer and have her offer accepted and received graciously.
I've written about it before but it bears mentioning again that receiving is often more difficult than giving and we can all work on it a bit. It is a type of GIFT to the people who care about us to be able to receive graciously and gratefully.