- Aging & Longevity
Caring For Others: Love's Domino Effect Of Unexpected Gifts And Rewards
Caring For Others: Not Always A Natural thing
Usually when you’re sick it’s hard if not impossible to think about anyone but yourself. You become obsessed with getting better, feeling better, anything but your present state of ‘dis-ease.’ After all, it’s all about you isn't it, and that’s natural. We’re born selfish and we must be taught to think of others first. Caring for others doesn't always come naturally. Compassion for others, caring for children and caring for the elderly is more often seen and expected in mothers and grandmothers. We see it often. We a mother's loving hands touch and soothe away tears and worry. Of course there are many that seem to have been born with that wonderful gift of selfless compassion like Mother Teresa, but it’s just not the norm for our society as a whole today, sad to say. I think often about this rare, greater than us all quality that emerges every now and then and renews our hope in mankind. It always comes to mind when I think of Tess*.
Who's Caring For Who?
You could say that Tess was one of the mother figures in my life. Tess got sick one year and needed a companion and some help around the house. We had been spending time together for quite a while, this much older woman and I. We seemed to be drawn to each other. We cultivated a friendship in church. She was taken with my young son. She got tickled with all of his boyish behavior. Tess’s grand kids lived a few hours away and she rarely got the chance to enjoy them, so she spoiled my son at every opportunity. Her upbringing was tough, a real live frontier woman she was and so she had a coarse way about her. It didn’t bother me though. I found her irresistible. My own grandmother can take the credit for that. She was a lover of people and it rubbed off on me. People are meant to be loved; especially the difficult ones. There is always something to love about people. You just have to be patient to look for it. That patience has its own rewards.
Without realizing it, Tess gave me a wonderful gift. Because she needed me, I wasn’t concentrating on my own troubles; a recent diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. And although it wasn’t in itself a disease that was life threatening, the complications could be. I don’t recall talking to Tess much about it but I'm sure she was well aware of it. Tess had her own philosophy about these things. She simply told me to put it all in God’s hands. I took her advice. When we were together after the food preparation and housework was done, we had fun. When she felt up to it, we flew out to church conventions together, enjoyed her favorite restaurants and took rides about town in her blue pickup which she absolutely took pride in. Oh did we have fun. My son had a ball. Every kid likes someone making a fuss over them even if they say they don’t.
Have You Ever Had To Care For A Friend Or Loved One?
Saved By Love
It was no small shock to find out how sick I was after 20 years of not knowing what was wrong with me. My salvation was Tess’s need and my love for her. They so overwhelmed me that I had little time to sulk or to have my own pity party. In essence I was saved by love and by my love for her. Taking care of what Tess needed was my priority. I did however do much research about my condition and about the various treatments available but it was amazingly balanced. It was Tess that kept me balanced. She was sick herself yet she was both compassionate and wise. She instinctively knew that I needed her as much as she needed me. Unlike my son, I needed her to not make a fuss over me but to provide normality and practicality to an already stressful situation while everyone else seemed to be backing away because they didn’t know what to say to me. Tess gave me that and so much more. She and I would fall over laughing over the silliest things like we were teenagers; this elder woman and I. I remember less of whatever difficult times I experienced with my illness and more of the incredible joy I shared with this woman. My illness pales insignificant; my memories of Tess however are eternal. Incredibly, the timing was to the very minute for I had no way of knowing that those were precious times indeed that were soon to come to an end.
Sometimes salvation comes as we care for others. Love has it's own domino effect of unexpected gifts and rewards.
Saying Goodbye To Tess
Tess passed away suddenly. It hit me hard. I wasn't ready for her to go and neither was her family but we all had to say goodbye.
I’ve lived with Multiple Sclerosis for more than 40 years, regularly witnessing God's miracles in my life. Trust me when I say that it's no small miracle what happens when one cares for others in the midst of our own dilemmas. It has been a continuous lesson to me about its power and connection to our own health and well being. Sometimes salvation comes while we're in the process of caring for or showing kindness to others.