Last year I joined the Meals on Wheels program in San Francisco, CA. I am part of a coalition of people that take a few hours every week or bi-weekly and spend time with the disabled senior community. Our duties can range from picking up groceries, cleaning, running errands or just spending quality time with our seniors.
I wanted to protect the names of the people that I work with so I have used fictitious names to illustrate this segment of Inspirational Spiritual Stories. Enjoy!
Inspirational Spiritual Stories – Led by Thomas
I often think about why I volunteer. Am I really making a difference? What is my purpose for doing what I am? I don’t tell many people about my volunteering duties because it’s not something I do for praise. I do it because I have been blessed with the ability and time to help someone so I do.
I believe Thomas and Alicia represent something bigger than just a few amazing folks that I lend a hand to occasionally. Perhaps it’s preparing me for when my parents get older and can’t fend for themselves? Maybe I am harnessing strength, patience and resilience with these active duties? I try not to worry about it too much, but every time I see Thomas and Alicia I see my parents, and I learn something about myself, and December 23rd 2015th was no different.
Alicia had called me the night prior wanting some groceries. I’ve gotten to know Thomas and Alicia so well that I know exactly what brands of items they need without them mentioning it. Alicia enjoys the 12-pack of mixed berry Lipton iced tea and Sara Lee pound cake, while Thomas must have his Safeway Select apple juice, Diet 7up, and tapioca pudding. I try to push them to eat healthier, and perhaps a home cooked dinner I have planned for us in the future can be a catalyst to better health.
I get to their apartment and punch in *3426 and the door opens. I take all the groceries up a few flight of stairs. Alicia has the door open and anxiously waits. She greets me with a hug and kiss and we proceed to the kitchen. I know exactly where I need to unload all the groceries, but I let her instruct me anyway.
She is eager to know what is new in my life and if I am dating anyone. I give her the usual story. She laughs, and I ask about her new art project which is a blanket she is crocheting for retired soldiers at the Veterans Hospital near my neighborhood. Before she can go into detail about color sequencing, Thomas walks in:
“Anand, how are you son!”
“I’m great Thomas! What’ve got there.”
“It’s a lamp that doesn’t work, I was hoping we can go
to the repair shop and get it fixed, but before we do that,
can you take a look.……”
Alicia interjects, “Thomas leave the boy alone, that lamp
is so old.”
“Leave me alone woman! Anand, let’s try.”
Thomas and Alicia always have these short stints of light bickering. I’ve actually grown accustomed and look forward to it. I don’t have much drama in my life, and at times it is warranted. A little drama is good for the heart..so is tequila they say.
Thomas is clinically blind but he knows his apartment by memory so he can get around effortlessly. He gets me a chair and we sit down to fix his lamp. I looked at it and had no clue what to do. The only repairs I have done are with Ikea furniture and somehow I have managed to screw that up. How I got an A in wood shop, I will never know!
“Thomas are you sure you don’t
want to go to the repair shop?”
“No Anand, let’s try to do it
Thomas gave me step by step directions. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. It was actually fun figuring out the ins and out of a lamp. Thomas guided me the entire way. Once I tied the copper wire securely around the metal bolt, he said it should work now.
I put the lamp back together, and we put a fresh bulb on, but no light. Thomas instructed we try something else. I won’t go into the details of fixing the lamp because this isn’t Home Improvment, but I had to unscrew the base of the lamp and split some wires. After we did all this we were ready to try again to see if it worked.
I don’t think Alicia was very optimistic at this point since we failed the first time, but Thomas had more than a glimmer of hope in his demeanor.
“Thomas it worked. we fixed it” I said!
Alicia was surprised.
Thomas looked at me with his big brown eyes and said,
“I knew you would fix it.”
“How’d you know?”
“I believed in you son.”
Moral of the Story
At times it’s difficult for us to believe in our own abilities. When we try something new or different from our normal day to day patterns there is an element of doubt and fear that arises. Sometimes it’s hard to stray away from these feelings but having someone who believes in us can actually push us to find the potential that we did not know exists within ourselves.
I have many friends and family members that have embarked on new business ventures, new love, and generally aim to make dramatic shifts in their lives but are fearful of the outcome. I can offer words of encouragement and advice, which I always do, but I can do something else as well. I can believe in their abilities to make something good happen for themselves. I have done this time and time again and great things have happened to those around me. Life is full of pessimism. We see it in the news, politics, and our social media posts. We actually live in a society where being “optimistic or “positive,” is at times frowned upon.
If we are not trying to make our life or the lives of others better, then what are we exactly doing here? Thomas believed in me when I didn’t and he showed me the light (literally and figuratively). I’ll continue to believe in others, and perhaps one day we can live in world free of broken lamps.
Never get tired of believing in others. A little belief in someone will occupy the most love in their hearts.
*If you want to help out with Meals on Wheels program near you, you can do so by clicking HERE, and if you are not in the US I urge you to find how you can help the senior community in your area.
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Written by Anand Swamy