When Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson graced the silver screen to tell their stories of how their Bucket List manifested itself, I knew that I had to start keeping my own bucket list. I make lists for everything, and I am goal oriented, so this was a natural for me.
At first, this list was centered on me and my husband and my daughter, consisting of places to go, experiences to be had, & ways to spend a boatload of money.
As I would peruse Facebook, idea after idea got logged into the Notes app in my phone titled Bucket List.
Not only did I see ideas that could be centered around me and my family, but I started seeing how others in my life would love some of these ideas. Other times, there were business that strangers were getting off the ground, and it made me want to buy every Christmas gift this year from that company, simply to support their beautiful story and cause. These were stories that touched my heart as an outsider looking in, so with all of these ideas brewing, I started another list, a list with much more vision, “The Bucket List of Giving”.
Soon, this list was getting longer than my regular list. How did that transformation, or maybe more accurately, evolution, take pace in me? When did I start to get more joy out of giving than receiving? I’ve always had it in me, don’t get me wrong, but now that we are completely debt free, house and everything, the options look more and more realistic of how to not only help others, but to simply enrich the lives of others. Random acts of kindness could have a transformation of its own. Still, something other than becoming debt free had to have planted seeds to result in generosity as a byproduct.
About six years ago, in my early forties, I had a work assignment which took me to the homes of elderly people quite regularly. I work in telecommunications for the Hard of Hearing, which tends to be mostly elderly people. I helped this sweet, sweet lady with a captioned telephone. Picture her about 4’10” dyed blond hair, and a Boston accent. She had a modest home, but it was truly filled with love. She emitted love. I got a hug when I arrived, when I left, and on particularly emotional days, several more in between.
She couldn’t hear very well back then and it only got worse over the years. I had set her up with a captioned telephone and gave her my work phone number, asking her to call me if she had any problems or questions, with the phone. She was not a technologically savvy lady, as you can imagine being in her late seventies at the time. When she called with questions, I was delighted to help. It just so happened that she lived about two miles out of my way on my way home. I stopped by and the first thing she did was give me a hug and thank me for coming. I stayed longer than I needed to. I listened as she dominated the off-topic conversation; it’s easier to be the talker when you are hard of hearing. After all, listening and comprehending is pretty darn hard work. Listening and practicing my engaging non-verbals was OK with me, I did not mind in the least. Towards supper time, I made my way out her door with thankful smiles, hugs, thank yous and a batch of her special cookies. These were ordinary cookies by any standards. Peanut butter between two Ritz crackers dipped in chocolate bark. Little did I know that those cookies were going to make a regular appearance in my life the next several years.
Her name was Daisy.
She was the happiest and most thankful person I had ever met.
On that second visit, I programmed my personal cell phone into the speed dial of this new fancy telephone so that she could have me available anytime she needed. Day or night.
I found all sorts of reasons to call her, to stop by, to help her with anything. It was a mutual arrangement. I needed to be needed by a Mom/Grandma figure and she loved having my smiling face around, helpful hands and warm hugs. Plenty of hugs, warm touches and most critically for her, eye contact.
Upon one of those first visits, she asked me if I would like to go out to breakfast on Saturday morning. I was not surprised, after all, we were quick friends! I gladly accepted this lovely woman‘s invitation. On the day planned, I went to her place and the two of us got into her 1980s sedan. With her large black over-the-eyeglasses sunglasses on, she meandered her way through our metropolis making right turns only on the back roads to get us to her favorite little restaurant. She talked while driving. I learned quickly not to talk while she drove because she’d turn her head to try and read my lips in an attempt to put together what I was saying. Not a good idea. At the restaurant, she did most the talking because for her to hear me and my stories, the whole place would have heard me. I was really beginning to enjoy spending time with this lady. She was a talker and I know now that listening to Daisy was the beginning of me learning to GIVE. Give of myself. Give my time. Give my service. Give my kindness. I don’t always hit these marks, but with Daisy, all of these qualities came naturally to me. I liked who I was when she was with me.
As time went on, we became each other’s best friends. When she had something to share, she called me. When I was feeling blue and just needed a thankful perspective, she was the one to do it. Calling her on the special phone was an exercise in deliberate communication because everything that I said was captioned for her to read through a third-party relay service. My thoughts from my brain down to my mouth had to be so much more intentional so that they would translate into the printed word and actually makes sense for her as they came up on the screen for her to read. It forced me to be a better communicator.
This was the first bit of change in my learning to be a true giver…..