And then I saw it, the meaning of being thankful.
Imagine driving up to a house where someone is standing in the doorway waiting for you. Nervous, anticipating. You’ve never met this person before and you have no idea what to expect except for the fact that they’re waiting for you.
Now imagine that it was a life changing thing.
I pulled up to K’s house a little after 12. She was standing on her front porch with her arms wrapped around herself as if she was giving herself a hug. Or trying to hold herself together. When she saw me get out of the car, she half smiled, uneasy with what was about to happen.
I walked up to her before I got anything out of the car and shook her hand and said hello. She may have not known, but I was more nervous than she was. I handed her an envelope with four 100 dollar gift cards to Trader Joe’s. She looked at me before taking it and said, “you don’t even know me, and you’re doing this.” I simply looked at her and said, “I care.”
She accepted her new microwave and boots cautiously. When I told her that my sister had knitted her a scarf and pulled it out of the bag for her to see, a single tear rolled down her cheek.
She thanked me again and said, “I will pay this forward.” I smiled and said, “I know.”
Then we hugged.
I got back into my car and headed off to the next house.
When we got to R’s house, I silently took in the scenery. On her street stood 12 or 13 houses and of them, maybe one or two were even habitable. The others were all boarded up, missing porches, no glass in the windows, or what was left was shattered and certainly not a safe place to walk. But she could afford to live there, she said.
R’s house was a cheery yellow color and when we pulled up, she greeted us with a smile. I shook her hand and handed her her 500 dollars in grocery gift cards. She teared up.
As Matt, Virginia and I unloaded the cars, she stood there in sort of a half shocked stance. Trip, after trip, box after box, we filled her sparse living room full of pillows and blankets, cookware and plates. I asked her if the style of the silverware was OK, and she said, “It’s perfect.”
When we got down to the microwave to bring in, R gasped, put one hand to her mouth, pointed and said, “I’ve always wanted one of those.”
I told her that in one of the boxes, there was a winter coat for her. She said she hasn’t had one of those in years.
She hugged me for a very long time. Then she told me about her kids. Her youngest, while only in the first grade, is in a gifted program and reads at a fourth grade level. I showed R all the books we brought for her and said that her daughter would be floored. She likes to read books to her special needs brother.
At the last house, M was very quirky. I found it to be as almost a defense mechanism. She was kind and extremely talkative, but as someone who’s worked so hard her entire life, it’s hard to accept help. When I handed her her gift cards, she said, “You didn’t have to do that, these things are enough,” but I said, “No, it’s not enough. You deserve this, too.”
Then she laughed and said she was on a diet. (Mind you, this woman was rail thin.) I told her the diet stops today, then.
This afternoon, I met strong women who are very proud. But just as R said to me as I was about to leave, “I do all I can. I need a fresh start.”
I hope this helps.
Today was everything I wanted it to be. The feeling I felt, and am still feeling, is like nothing I’ve ever felt in my entire life. It feels incredible.