Saturday, April 13, 2013

Give a Little Bit

I’m finding myself really weepy lately.  It doesn’t take much to get me teary eyed these days. I can say pretty confidently that it’s not from being sad or depressed, but more often than not , it's just being really appreciative, grateful, or that I perhaps I'm just feeling things I wouldn’t under ‘normal’ circumstances. In picking out a song for these little missives, I can usually tell if it’s the right one as I get that familiar choked up feeling and so begins my inspiration for the day, but not always. My inspiration, today, is not so much the song, although it fits. It’s the video that accompanied it. I saw it posted to Facebook a few months ago and it got me then as much as it does now. It’s the message that was paired with the song that hit home and it’s one of the few times an advertisement got it right.

The song itself is Supertramp’s Give a Little Bit (the link at the left is to a video for the whole song). The video is Coke’s Super Bowl ad and it captures the best in us in a very short time … as captured by security cameras.

The thing that brought it to mind today was a conversation I had with my two sons yesterday.  My oldest son had a birthday a couple of weeks ago.  He turned 23 and is coming of age in a way that brought back a lot of memories for me as we had a really good conversation over the phone on the day after he celebrated his birthday. 

This is the day I brought my son home.
He has arranged to come out to Seattle to be my official caregiver while I’m undergoing my bone marrow transplant.  He’ll be seeing the best and worst of me and we’ll be having more of those good conversations, I’m sure.  We’ll also be making plans to do some wild and crazy things before he settles down (do any of us really ever settle down? Well, some of don't!) He’s not just giving a little bit; he’s really giving a lot to be with me during this time. That’s who he has always been. He is the quintessential strong and silent type, although when he gets talking, it’s debatable...and he's generous to a fault!

He's now 6'-3" and running (half marathon
here). You'd never know he has worked
through open heart surgery ... twice!
One of the things he talked about was spending time with his younger brother who is finishing up his first year of college. Both boys…uh…young men are asking a lot of questions and we’ve found a way for the two to be together: they can both come to Seattle. Yesterday afternoon, we were all able to get on the phone at the same time and talk through the details and it looks like it’s a go. So, it’ll be all the boys together this summer during my treatment and convalescence and this way, everything won't fall on to my oldest son even though there will be others coming over the course of the summer. We’ll all be giving a little bit to each other as we’re all navigating the next stage of our lives.  We all need what each other has and it proves that no matter how big, old, or tall the cubs get, the papa bear will always need to do papa bear things … and I’m really looking forward to having my cubs around … although admittedly the circumstances could be better!

My two sons last summer.
I had breakfast with my dad this morning, the first time I have eaten out since my adventure in toxic chemical goodness began nearly two months ago. In his way, he was giving his ‘little bit’ to me and I commented to him again how so many people had given their little bit to make this ordeal less intense. If little things bring me to tears of gratitude and joy, you can imagine how often the waterworks have been active these past couple of months with so many doing their own little bit,.

When I think about it, this really isn’t a stop-and-smell-the-roses sort of appreciation. The roses have always been there and I really am one to take in those kinds of things, but rather this is a stop-and-appreciate-the-thorns thing. And you can’t overlook the petals that have fallen to the ground or the earth itself and the bees and … and so on. It’s an appreciation of all the little bits.

Another of those little bits happened during my blood transfusion on Wednesday. I noticed that when the nurse that attended me arrived, he was wearing the same cycling jacket as I do, so we talked bicycles most of the day and he told me where I could ride as well as recommending a bike shop he trusted. He's more of a triathlete than a cyclist, but since he qualified for the Boston marathon, he's clearly an awesome athlete and he may just be running the big marathon on Monday. If I don’t see him when I go in for my last stab-me-in-the-back chemo, I’ll know why. A few of the medical staff are veterans, but not many.  He happened to be one, so we could swap stories about our time on active duty as well. On the down side, he was unable to find a vein that hadn’t been reduced to nothing as a result of my chemo. He and one other nurse turned me into a voodoo doll, so my arms are looking getting track marks and bruised as a result (yeah! fun!). I can be appreciative for the folks in the lab who seem to find the elusive place to draw blood and do it amazingly without hurting me.  I can’t figure out how that needle goes in and I don’t feel pain, but the lab folks do it. Whoda thunk the prick of a needle would be something to be grateful for? Believe it!

One last little bit: my new friend with the fun t-shirts was an inpatient this week while I was getting my transfusion and we got to swap more stories and chat since I was the inpatient last time and he stopped by my room. I didn’t recognize him at first as he was wearing the hospital jammies instead of his jeans with the oversized belt buckle and the obnoxious t-shirt that makes you chuckle. But once he spoke, I knew it was him and we were already on the way to keeping each other smiling. 

I share a few of the mundane little things with you from my week because every little thing you do makes a difference to someone else – for good or ill. An encouraging word, a hug, a phone call, a joke, a smile to a stranger, doing your job well, whatever – all of these things make a difference even if you don’t see the end result. Can I encourage you to be that person for the one who needs a smile? I can tell you first-hand that it means the world...and if they need it like I have, it just may make them a little teary-eyed with joy.
Be well, stay strong, and much love to you all…and make someone else smile today! J