Wednesday, April 12, 2017 – A VERY BELATED THANK YOU!
About 17 years ago, as a new assistant principal, I asked my boss if I could go to a workshop entitled, “Powerful Communication Skills for Women”. He laughed, cracked some kind of joke, and said something along the lines of, “Yes, just don’t come back talking even more to me!”
I am forever grateful that he said Yes. It was probably the best workshop I have ever attended. Many parts of it have stuck with me for years. One part has truly always stayed in my mind.
At this one particular point in the workshop, the woman had us complete a self rating worksheet that gave us a number for 5 different areas in our lives: relationships, emotional, career, finances, and spirituality. After we scored it, we ended up with a number that was supposed to correlate to the “UN-DONES” in our lives. The higher the number, the more attention in that area of life was needed. She explained to us that the purpose of the exercise was to point out the areas of our personal lives that needed “cleaning up” so that we could feel more “complete” and have the emotional energy to move forward to pursue our goals. The belief was that it is these “UN-DONES” that drain us and preoccupy us to a point where we sometimes feel “stuck” or we remain “negligent” to the parts of us that really are meant to make us whole. When this happens, we can stop living “intentionally” and just keep struggling to “get by”, until we clean up our “un-dones”.
For me, I think this part rang so true for me because I have never liked that feeling of something being “un-done” or ‘un-finished”. I am the Queen of Self Imposed Deadlines! I LOVE when I can cross things off my “TO DO LIST”.
SO, that experience 17 years ago has inspired me to complete many of the tasks I start and to prioritize my personal goals so that I can feel more complete, which completely fits into this year’s focus on living more intentionally!
So, it is not a mystery to me that I have felt vey incomplete for one thing that still remained on my personal “TO DO LIST” from two years ago.
Two years ago, on March 30th – it was MONDAY of HOLY WEEK that year – my mother-in-law, Jo, passed away with many of us there at her side. Two days prior to that, on the Saturday, the hospice nurse called someplace for assistance to have my mother-in-law brought down from upstairs to the living room so that she could be comfortable and with all of us in her final days. In a very ironic twist in life, in her final days, my mother-in-law was gently carried down the beautiful, curving, grand stairwell of my sister-in law’s front entryway and gracefully placed onto the hospital bed that had arrived earlier in the day. My mother-in-law’s final escort in this world involved 8 of the kindest men I have ever had the pleasure of watching. They rolled her into a blanketed cocoon, wrapped it around her, a slowly lifted her. One man took the lead. With only his voice talking, that man directed the others down the stairs at an even and careful pace so that she would “feel no pain”. I am sure Jo would have had something to say to those firemen from Broad River station who were wearing their tan bulky pants, blue iconic shirts, suspenders and boots, and had parked their full blown fire engine in Nancy and Joe’s driveway. Yes, if the day had been different for her, with HOLY WEEK starting just one day later, she would have had something to say about her grand entrance into a new “promised land” being escorted by firemen instead of donkeys and palm branches!
From that moment on, and through her last breaths, and the following week while we waited for Holy Week to end, I thought about that image. My mother-in-law was buried the day after Easter, Easter Monday. I knew in my heart that I should do something to thank the firemen of the Broad River Department, but for two years I hadn’t done anything. I could have written a note, but I didn’t. I could have written to the newspaper, but I didn’t. I could have just zipped in and said thank you since I pass by there almost weekly, but here it is two years later and I hadn’t done anything to thank them.
SO it was Wednesday, April 12, 2017, during HOLY WEEK this year, that I decided it was time to honor my mother-in-law by thanking the men who so carefully carried her to her final entrance into a family space that year. That morning, I got up, made cookies and brownies, placed them on a platter and called my sister-in-law Nancy to invite her to come with me. Forty-five minutes later we arrived at the station, just as the truck was pulling away to help someone else in need. I said a quick prayer, hoping they were not going to be carrying a woman to her final place, but if that, in fact, was where they were going, I knew they would do it with respect, dignity, deep love, and concern for everyone involved.
Nancy and I presented the tray to the two guys who weren’t on the truck; they simply answered the doorbell. They didn’t know us and were likely not there two yeas ago at Nancy’s house. Yet, I know I intentionally and purposefully completed one of those “UN-DONEs” from my personal TO DO LIST and my heart feels lighter.
I have never stopped into a public service building to say thank you, even though I have probably thought about doing it in the past. I just never did it. Wednesday, April 12th was a first for this action and it just felt like it was the right time to say, on behalf of our family, THANK YOU TO THE BROAD RIVER FIRE DEPARTMENT, especially during HOLY WEEK.
May our firefighters always be protected and continue to live a life of service for all of us! THANK YOU!