I am a giver and I have been one since I can remember. As an older sister, I relished teaching my young siblings everything. While in 4th grade I was asked to be a “buddy” to a girl with Down Syndrome. As Mary held my hand and smiled, I decided in that moment that my life’s work would be helping others. During my stint as a summer counselor for disadvantaged city children, I learned the lesson that it is more blessed to give than to receive. My heart exploded with love and warmth with every hug and help I could offer. As a teacher and family liaison in poverty-stricken Appalachia, I was awed by the gratitude that was bestowed upon me for every visit, assist or smile. My profession over the past 27 years as an occupational therapist has provided me with ample opportunity to give.
Now, in my 50s and having raised my children and worked in health care and education for decades, I am feeling more tired and depleted than in years past. This has caused much speculation on my part as to what to do about this unfamiliar and uncomfortable feeling. What does a giver do if she is spent?
These thoughts were running around in my head as I waited in the Dunkin’ Donuts drive through line. I ordered my coffee and literally counted my pennies so I could give exact change. The young man at the window handed me my coffee and said, “You’re all paid up. The person in the car in front of you paid for your coffee. People do that sometimes. I don’t know why. Have a good day.”
Completely stunned as I drove away, I teared up. Why would this person buy my coffee? She doesn’t know me and I can never thank her! She has no idea how grateful I am! Why would someone do this? Maybe this is a time when I am to be the receiver. As a “receiver” I can offer the “giver” the same opportunities I’ve had to feel blessed by giving to others. Maybe this stranger is also a giver. In any case, my bucket has been filled and I am ready for this season of giving…and receiving. I wish love and peace and random acts of kindness to you all!
by Jill Perry, MS, MHA, OTR/L