Thursday, December 20, 2012

Please Remember The Less Fortunate

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”
- Leo Buscaglia -

I wasn’t fortunate enough to spend much time with my maternal grandparents because they lived thousands of miles away, but from what I’ve been told about them by people that knew them well, they were empathetic, highly regarded and cherished members of their community. Despite the fact that they were a poor family, their door was always open to the less fortunate, and whatever way they could help, they did. Thus, my mother grew up in a very loving home with parents that taught their children kindness and compassion by practicing these admirable qualities, not just by preaching about them. I wish I’d had more time with them.


Nonetheless, their spirit lived in my mother who carried over into our home all the wonderful, kindhearted actions that she grew up witnessing. And she practiced them time and again so that we may learn from her. From as far back as I can remember, my mother extended a helping hand to the needy, the sick, the distressed. We lived in a poor neighbourhood and it wasn’t unusual to have someone knock on our door from time to time begging for help. Any type of help. A few coins. A couple of fruits. An old sweater. Anything. Please...


And even though we were a poor family, too, my mother felt that we were exceptionally blessed because, at the very least, we had a roof over our heads, enough to eat and warm clothing for the harsh Canadian winters. So she was more than happy to help as a way to show gratitude for her own good fortune. Helping the ‘less fortunate’ gave her such joy. It still does.


I remember one really cold winter day...I must have been about six or seven at the time...when a woman showed up at our door in tears with two young children in tow, pleading for help. My mother’s eyes were filled with sympathy and sadness, and for a moment or two she hesitated, trying to figure out how she can help. We didn’t have money to spare, so that was out of the question. But she desperately wanted to do something. But what? And then she knew! She told the woman to wait just a moment, and she ran into our room and started going through our things. Pants, shirts, sweaters, coats, hats, scarves, gloves...whatever clothing of ours she could spare for the children...into a bag it all went. She then rushed into her bedroom and threw in a few of her own things for the mother, and finished off in the kitchen with some non-perishable foods. She offered the clothing and food to the woman, and although very few words were exchanged, the kindness in my mother’s eyes and the heartfelt gratitude in the woman’s spoke volumes.  I stood mesmerized as I watched this whole interaction, and 40 years later, I still see it clearly in my mind as if it happened yesterday. It is one of the most memorable moments of my childhood, and one of the most beautiful memories I have of my mother.


Another time, a man showed up at our door desperate for help. He was unshaven, sickly, dressed in rags and underweight. He couldn’t hear or speak and attempted to communicate with my mother in sign language. Again, my mother’s immediate reaction was to help. And again, we didn’t have money, so it would have to be in another way. This time it didn’t take long to figure out how. She had been preparing supper for the family, and since she always made extra food (just in case someone dropped by), she brought this starving man inside, sat him down and fed him. Soup. Chicken. Bread. Whatever she was preparing for us, she served him.


My brother and I sat and watched all this with big round eyes. We’d never seen anything quite like it, and till this day I still haven’t seen anything like that: someone eat so quickly, and with so much desperation. The desperation of the hungry. When he was finally full, he got up to leave, and as he headed toward the door, he gestured thank you in sign language to my mother over and over and over again with tears in his eyes, and a look of tremendous appreciation. My mother’s eyes also filled with tears and she kept saying “you’re welcome” and “it’s okay”. And then he was gone.


These are just two examples of my mother’s kindness toward others. There are so many more. And I thank my mom for these precious, beautiful moments because they are a fundamental part of me. They have shaped me, made me more aware of the world around me, the less fortunate, the hungry, the isolated. And when Christmas rolls around, these memories surface, reminding me once again to think of others who are not as fortunate as I am, compelling me to help in any way I can. Because this holiday is not a happy time for everyone. For many people it’s a very difficult, lonely and distressing time.

So please, let us all consider helping those who needs us. By contributing food, clothing, money, toys...or just time. Every little bit helps...



26 comments:

  1. Your mother sounds like a wonderfully warm-hearted mother, Martha.I never forget that so many people have so little. Christmas can be a hard, lonely time for others. The least we can do is try and make it a little easier for them when we can.

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    1. Yes, that's the least we can do. Some people live difficult lives, and this time of year is quite distressing for them.

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  2. This is the most beautiful post, Martha. Your mom made some amazing choices - not that she had any difficulty making her decisions to help. It was obviously her nature, passed down from caring and compassionate parents. This is the best Christmas story!!

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    1. Thank you, Francie. Yes, it was passed down from caring and compassionate parents. And she chose to continue on that rode. I am grateful for that.

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  3. She taught you well Martha, what a beautiful person your mother is - an amazing warm human being

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    1. Thank you! She is a special person. She makes me proud.

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  4. Thank you for sharing this heartwarming story. This time of year is difficult for so many people and this is a great reminder to share our own blessings with others. I agree, this is a wonderful Christmas story!

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    1. It certainly is difficult for many. It's heartbreaking to know how hard life is for some.

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  5. Actions speak louder than words, always. Your Mom was one of the good ones! I hope her compassion and generosity came back to her three-fold from the Universe.

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    1. They certainly did, in many ways. She has experienced grief in the past few years that I don't think she deserved, but even with all that, she still finds reasons to be grateful for her life.

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  6. A wonderful tribute to your Mom, Martha. She put her money where her mouth was, so to speak. It's easy to give from a position of abundance - but true giving also costs the one giving.

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  7. WOW, I needed a good cry this morning. Thank you for sharing the true meaning of Christmas.

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  8. A lovely Christmas message. We all need to be reminded more often.

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it, and thank you for visiting this blog!

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  9. I wish your Mum, was my Mum. She's a shining example of humanity.

    I remember one Christmas Eve, we were going shopping and outside the store was a young obvious homeless kid, with his dog. Of course we picked them both up some stuff and gave him money but that was it for me. I did not feel good about it at all. I went home and cried and cried and cried for him. It sucks out there and they need our help.

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    1. You're very sensitive, Laeli, and I'm sure you are kind to the ones in need. We all do what we can. It's so sad how many people have it so hard.

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  10. WHat a great story. Thanks for sharing - it's the perfect story for Christmas time. Merry Christmas!

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  11. What a wonderful role-model your mother is Martha!! Yes, let's all remember the 'needy' and do what we can.

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    1. She certainly is, Jim. And yes, let's all remember the needy and do what we can. That's what the holidays are really all about.

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  12. Your mother was an angel! Thanks for sharing these stories.

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    1. That is very sweet, Melanie! Thank you for saying that :)

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  13. What important lessons your mother taught you by her compassionate actions. There are so many needy right now. Thank you for this inspiring post.

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    1. These are the things I remember from my childhood, and they are the greatest memories! And yes, there are so many needy right now. It's heartbreaking.

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