Some moments change your life forever; others have a less lasting impact, but significantly alter the moments that follow.
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When I started working from home years ago, I made a family rule: if my office door was closed they were to pretend I wasn’t home. It seemed simple enough, but my husband and kids found ways to complicated it.
For the most part, I forgave trespasses through the closed door, but there were times when repeated violations caused my anger to grow like storm clouds and it was hard to hold back a cloudburst of temper.
One day way back in 2002, I was inundated with solving client issues. Gary asked for a ride to the dietician’s office. (Diminished eyesight had recently prevented him from driving.) He needed to turn in paperwork before the dietician left on vacation.
“Give me a half hour.”
Moments later, my daughter arrived from school to burst through the door. “I need to use your computer for homework.”
“Give me a half hour.”
My son arrived and failed in his hunt for food. “I’m hungry and there’s nothing to eat.”
“Give me a half hour.”
Gary poked his head in. “I need to get to the dietician.”
I wanted to put on a lightning and thunder show, to send everyone scrambling for cover.
At the hospital, I helped Gary navigate the hallways to the dietician’s office. He spent ten precious minutes explaining to the dietician what I felt was self-explanatory. I tapped my foot and tried to force deep breaths through constricted lungs. I longed for the progress that could be made in that wasted time.
Back in the car, he said, “I don’t know what to make for dinner.”
One lightning bolt and he’d be gone—vaporized.
I pulled into The Purity parking lot. “What do you want me to get?”
“How about milk and bread.”
“And a head of lettuce.”
“Okay.” My hand was on the door lever.
“And a cucumber.”
I sighed. “Anything else? “
“Some sliced cheese. I’ll make toasted cheese and ham.”
I opened the door.
“Get some soup. I’ll heat up soup to go with the sandwiches.”
I wanted to slam the door. Hard—very hard.
Milk, bread, lettuce, cucumber, sliced cheese, can of soup—repeated like a mantra. If I missed anything, I’d be back, wasting even more time.
I had to choose between two checkout lines: one with quarts, six packs, and cases of beer backed up five deep; or the other with a grandma, two young kids, and a packed cart of food. In no mood to be entertained by alcoholics, I took up position behind the grandma.
The hungry eyes of the little girl scanned the candy display, pointing out treasures to her slightly older brother. He shrugged, not interested. His expression revealed the age-old question: Why were you even born? All you’ve ever done is ruin my life.
The girl asked Grandma if she could buy candy. Grandma gave a sweet, short lecture on financial planning. Save your money to buy something big as opposed to spending it on a bunch of little things.
The boy jiggled coins in his pocket and nodded his head.
Grandma paid the clerk and gathered her bags. The boy, still jiggling coins, asked, “What’s dial-sis?” She paused to determine what he’d asked and saw the canister on the counter for Dialysis Project donations. “It’s called dialysis, honey.”
“What does it mean?”
“It’s a treatment for people with kidney problems.” Grandma started to walk away.
The boy walked a few feet before turning around. He returned to the counter, lifted the coins from his pocket, and deposited them into the canister. Without a word, he rushed to catch up with Grandma who was nearly out of the store.
An explosion of sunlight lit The Purity in a heavenly glow. The Hallelujah Chorus burst from the Muzak speakers.
I was humbled in the face of pure charity, my heart filled with joy. I wanted to hug everyone in the store, to profess my love for one and all. I had to refrain from hollering, “The beer’s on me.”
I entered the car and thanked Gary in advance for making dinner. He chuckled and gave me a wary look. I turned the car off Pity Road and detoured to Gratitude Alley (it runs directly behind The Purity).
Back home, the teenagers were infused with love. They tolerated it—yeah, yeah, love you, too—but their pleasure leaked through the soft edges of their eyes.
My office was unchanged from the previous hour. Stacks of paperwork, the decorating focal point, were accented by the blinking light of messages backed up on the answering machine. An essential part of the room had changed from the previous hour—it felt manageable.
The dogs wanted a walk. I noticed it was a beautiful afternoon. I leashed them up and headed out.Due to the generosity of donors like this young boy, Fort Bragg was able to build a dialysis center in November 2006 which provides an invaluable health service to our coastal community.