Celebrating generosity

The thrill of  a wonderful surprise! And even better, it leaves a glow.

Two days ago there was a ring on my doorbell, and there was my lovely parcel delivery man. Now I’m expecting a parcel so I wasn’t surprised to see him, but I was surprised to see two cartons.

imagesDEQMWLV5He said something about wine but that wasn’t what I’d ordered so I didn’t take any notice. Refused his offer to carry them inside, couldn’t easily lift them and realised… they were cartons of wine! Huge excitement! This was only the second time in my life anyone had ever sent me wine. The last time it was champagne as a house moving present. That was pretty special.

Now I had a fairly good idea of who had sent them and I think a surprise is even better when you can work it out. There’s the pleasure of the unexpectedness, of how perfect the choice is, and of the generosity. I didn’t realise how generous it was until I opened one carton, to find not six, but twelve bottles. I had been sent two dozen bottles of wine!  Wow! Talk about feel spoilt!  It isn’t just the delight from such a surprise , but the feeling of being valued and of being worth such a gift.

Maybe it’s serendipity, but I’ve been thinking about generosity and unexpected gifts. During a very long, traumatic and scary hospital stay, several months of which were in Fort Worth, Texas, I received many, many gifts, often from people I didn’t know.

My veins are very narrow, making it difficult to insert  cannulas or extract blood samples. I’ve been remembering one time in particular, when a young medical intern was attempting to get a syringe in. Now I was used to nurses and doctors needing to keep on trying, sometimes giving up. I’d learnt to gaze out the window, think of other things, grit my teeth and endure it. This time, I had reached the end, for the first time ever. As I was about to ask him to stop, he did. We talked a moment and he left. It was one of those times when you truly meet someone- I guess the experience was intense for both of us and we were probably around the same age. I was far from home, desperately ill.

they're not yellow, but they sure are beautiful.

they’re not yellow, but they sure are beautiful.

The next day, a huge bunch of yellow roses, an absolute abundance of roses, was delivered- no name, just love and best wishes. I knew who had sent them. I was overwhelmed- really, the scraping at my veins hadn’t been that bad. . They carried me through the next difficult hours. How could I not continue to hang in when I could look at those roses and be reminded of compassion and kindness. So, young Texan doctor, I think Dr Macdonald, all these years later, I have never forgotten you and those roses.  From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.


One lesson I need to keep learning from such memories is to be generous myself. And generosity is not only about things that cost money. It’s the gift of time when someone needs it, even though I may not think I have that time to spare. And it isn’t simply taking the time, it’s giving it without counting the cost.  I forget about the little things: sending the card, writing the letter, making the phone call, asking how someone is.

May I always remember to give back, I, to whom so much has been given.

And thank you for flowers, wine, visits, cards, listening, money when I ‘ve been desperate… the list goes on and on.



The kindness of strangers and my undying gratitude. Number 1

IMG_0020 I’ve just come back from the vets, after taking Bear the cat to have his flea treatment applied. Last year I lived in a rented flat, I’d sold one house, not yet bought another, and had a persistent problem with fleas. The previous tenant had both dogs and cats. Moving here, we seemed to have brought them with us. Bear is a big cat. He hates any of the flea treatments and can smell them as soon as they’re opened. I suspect he recognizes the shape, he’s quite clever. Open one and he takes off. I can’t hold him and apply the treatment. I end up scratched and bitten and Bear ends up cranky and still flea ridden. Early in the year I had a friend staying with me and a flea leaping on his leg was the absolute last straw. In desperation I rang the local vets. ( only just moved, tired and stressed) How much would they charge to apply the treatment for me? Answer: nothing, as long as I bought the treatment from them. “Bring him up,” they said,” and we’ll do it.” So up we went. As I was thanking them profusely, I started crying. Well, everyone started apologizing for upsetting me, although you’d think that veterinary surgeries are places where you often see tears. “No,” I reassured them, “I’m not distressed, I’m crying because I’m so happy!” and another flood of tears. Result: One happy, relieved and grateful woman; one calm, flea-free cat; one happy friend and a flea-free home.