Today I received a gift for the New Year, and it was not at all what I expected. I thought I knew pretty much everything about giving, yet I never expected to have the tables turned, where I would be the recipient. “It Happened Like This…”
Today I visited a family whose children I taught a few years ago. I love those children! I have to say that because it is true. Writing those words makes my heart pound. Teachers love their children. Over the past year the father has become very ill (yes, cancer), so keeping in touch with the family has been important. And, my school has done a remarkable job at this. I have visited twice before today, and those visits were so much fun, playing with the children. Today was different, and not what I expected.
I played a Romanian version of ‘Sorry’ with the children. It was intense; rolling the dice became a ritual. Jennie: “Six, six, six” and the children chanting “No six, no six”. It was loud with lots of belly laughing. At one point, one of the children chanted the number she wanted me to roll, and it worked three times! That brought the house down.
We talked about what they remembered in my class (reading and music) and making a quilt with Milly (which hangs at the Fisher House in Boston). Then, the children talked about what they wanted on my next visit: the autoharp, reading Pinkalicious, and pictures of quilting with Milly. I’m on it!
The oldest child made a bracelet for me, with jewels and tape. It is a treasure, and I told her, “I will wear this on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday”. She beamed. What she doesn’t know is that I will, indeed, do this. The gift isn’t about my visit today. It’s about ‘The Hundred Little Things’. The littlest moments, those that make you feel good inside but otherwise may seem unimportant, are really big; they’re building blocks for life. It takes a hundred little things to manifest itself as a big thing, or I should say an important thing. The bracelet is a ‘big thing’ because it was a labor of love, which could only have happened after a hundred little things.
When I left, the children were so full, and so were the adults. The children just couldn’t get enough of playing with Jennie. The grandmothers just couldn’t let go. It didn’t matter that they couldn’t speak English; we communicated. Smiles, nods, and hugs are universal. I understood all of this when they didn’t let go. Lucky me.
I came away from a day of giving to a day of ‘getting’. I got so much from the children, and the grandparents. Today was my New Year’s gift.