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Helping Others in Different Ways

When I was younger, I was involved in various charities. I went to meetings, did fundraising calls and generally spent a lot of time involved in various nonprofit organizations. The endless meetings with people droning on became unappealing over time. We were still sending checks and donating our used goods, but some aspects of these organizations where people ruled by the size of their wallets and there were crosscurrent purposes became unattractive. It caused me to alter my path to helping people.

My journey started with a contractor from a major construction project. Near the end when we needed him most he took a leave due to medical issues. His substitutes failed us which ended up in a legal dispute. We were able to connect with him and found out that he had ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), a devastating progressive disease over which we have made little progress the last 80 years. He and I started having regular conversations and became fast friends while I tracked his situation. He made every effort to fully live his life with a positive attitude. Our conversations became a regular part of my life and we met for lunch when we could, even during the pandemic.

After a break with a long-time friend, we reconnected. I found out that another friend of ours from college was having substantial health problems. Her insides were not working the way they do for the rest of us. She had multiple hospital visits for operations. She was not improving; just surviving.

I started talking to her regularly. I would text her just checking up. Sometimes she would be back in the hospital because of a blockage which came out of nowhere. We never knew where she was going to be — living her new normal life or lying in a hospital bed.

During a recent prolonged bout of relatively good health, she found out we took money typically spent on normal life activities and used it to do a house project. Many others were doing the same during this pandemic. In our case it was our master bathroom. She wanted to start her own bathroom project, but got sidelined because of our collective fight with COVID.

It was clear that she was not up to managing the project herself. She had come to our house and loved what we had done. So we made clear she could lean on us. We got her the people to do the project. The Beautiful Wife was set to shepherd her around to tile, appliance and bathroom stores we had used. We were ready, willing and able to get her through the construction project. Then she landed back in the hospital. A bad occurrence and another operation. She is on the mend with the positive encouragement from long, uplifting conversations.

While this was going on I called our long-time computer geek. He is a paraplegic, but the least handicapped person I know. He told me he was in the hospital for an operation that happens to people who exist in wheelchairs over prolonged periods. He required an operation on his backside, and he informed me they were keeping him in the hospital for eight weeks. Then he conveyed because of COVID he could have no visitors. What despair. What loneliness. I told him I would call him. Then I took a piece of paper and wrote a note – Call Erick. I put it in front of the phone to remind me of what I needed to do every day.

And every day. I called for eight weeks. Sometimes we would talk for ten minutes. Sometimes we talked for a half hour or more. We talked about many topics and we explored new areas, but it was always uplifting. When I asked him how he was doing and it a mediocre reply, I made clear we could not accept that. We had to have a positive outlook.

As the end of his stay came near and good reports were coming from his medical staff, we looked forward to his return home. He was approved to get back in his chair – a big move. He had to start building up his arms to get back to wheeling around. Then the day came when he went back home.

I called him at home just to check on him. Make sure he was progressing. We spoke for a while. He then told me how thankful he was for our daily calls. He said other than his mom I was the only one who called him daily. I responded in kind telling him how much the calls meant to me. How grateful I was for our talks.

Just when I thought things were winding down, I called a client about a tax issue. Over the years he and his family have become much more than clients. We are close friends. He sounded tired. He let me know he was in the hospital, having suffered a stroke the previous day. Was that a shock. While on a bike ride, he had to pull over. Some locals found him sitting on the side of the road and called 911. He sounded well, but his left side has shut down. I told him he was going to be fine in the end and I would call him in a couple days.

He sounded even better when we spoke two days later. He had regained some feeling in his left hand and was being moved to a rehab center. I reinforced how he was going to get better and I would call him again in a couple days.

The point of these stories is not to tell you about what a good guy I am or how benevolent I can be. It is to tell you of how I have found different ways to help others. That helping others can remind you of how grateful you can be for your own circumstances. More importantly, how rewarding simple acts of kindness can be to others and how fulfilling they can be for you.

During this time which is called the holiday season (some Jews like to still refer to as the Christmas season), we need to focus on what the more important aspects of what this is all about. It is so easy to help others. Just look around. Do not wait for it to be the holidays. It should be all the time. Believe me, you will be the beneficiary of the goodwill.

God Bless.