Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On giving ... (part three) ...

In all my many years of living I have considered myself a giver, although there are some who might take issue with that statement. I must admit, however, that I give selectively ... not always when asked, never when 'expected', and usually only when I feel personally compelled to do so. I guess I could be labeled a "selective giver". That would probably be very close to the truth.

At this stage in my life, I have the time to volunteer. There are many organizations which are in need of services such as I have to offer, and yet I do not seek them out. I find myself too preoccupied with my own interests, too self-involved. I derive a tremendous amount of pleasure, satisfaction and enjoyment just being at home and by myself. So perhaps I could fairly be labeled a "selfish giver". (Now there's an oxymoronic phrase for you!)

Very recently, I extended myself to try and help someone I thought was a friend. I spent hours and hours talking with him personally and corresponding by e-mail, telling the truth while at the same time attempting to choose my words carefully and tactfully. He is extremely sensitive and I tried to be responsive to his moods and needs.

He has cut me off. I don't feel anger or resentment, nor do I begrudge any of the time I spent trying to be of assistance. Instead, I feel a sort of emptiness, a hollowness, an estrangement if you will.

I don't expect accolades nor would I want them. A simple "thank you" goes a long long way with me. If you cannot bring yourself to utter those words, a single smile will do the trick. Just don't dismiss me, pretend I never existed, or (worse yet) try to demean me in order to make yourself feel better. Please!

I probably will not exclude you from any future interaction with me, nor will I allow myself to go around 'bad mouthing' you to any and all who might be eager for choice tidbits or gossip, but I will be extremely reticent.

There is another instance that stands out in my memory banks. A friend of mine ... again I'm using the word 'friend' here because I thought he was! A fellow cab driver. We had gone to Astros games together, had argued and laughed ... I even confided in him (more like I asked questions) once or twice about another driver whom we both knew. I felt close to him.

We were never boyfriend and girlfriend. That was not going to happen, although I'll admit that I found him attractive 'in that way'. He had a lot of girlfriends but was notorious for treating each one like so much garbage that he could use and then dispose of summarily.

Well, one day we all (all of us taxicab drivers) came to learn that Lawrence was in the hospital ... the VA. It seemed that he'd been diagnosed with cancer, and the prognosis was anything but good.

I went to see him. If I hadn't known it was he in that hospital bed, I would not have recognized him. There are some gory details that I will not share with you, but - truly - he looked awful! He was extremely ill and cried when he saw me. I was SO glad that I had taken the time to go and visit.

I called a bridge friend of mine, Julian, whose name you might remember my mentioning a time or two before. Julian has been fighting cancer for many many years, and at this point appears to be winning his mighty battle. Julian went over to the VA just as soon as he could get his body up there and visited with Lawrence. I felt really good about the possibility of Julian's being able to inspire Lawrence after sharing his own story. Really good!

As it turned out, however, Lawrence was never again able to drive a taxicab. In fact, he was released from the VA just to go home. I heard from one of his girlfriends that his family needed food, and so one Friday afternoon I stopped at a grocery store and took a bunch of stuff over there. I was tickled that I had both the wherewithal and time to do it.

We had a nice visit. His mother and sister were there and I was happy to meet both of them. Lawrence was definitely recognizable at this point, and I found myself a little hopeful that he might even recover. But then, as Lawrence was walking me out to my car, he asked, "(My name), what kind of game are you playing?"

Boy, that brought me up short! I was stunned. I stopped, turned to look at him and said, "The game's over, Lawrence." Those were the last words we ever exchanged with each other.

Some weeks later, one of my other cab driver friends came up to me - I was in the staging area at Hobby Airport - and said, "Lawrence is in the lounge. He's changed. He'd like to see you."

I didn't go inside the lounge. In fact, I didn't even get out of my cab until I saw Lawrence, teetering and painstakingly trying to make his way towards me. I quickly got out and walked back towards the fence, figuring (rightly) that this wasted-looking individual could not keep up with me. I didn't look back. I just stayed there at the fence line.

Do you think I'm proud to admit that I did such a thing? I am not! In retrospect, I wish I had been a good enough Christian to run towards him and at least look him straight in his dying eyes and give him a hug. He reached out and I failed to catch him.


Tammy said...

You are in my thoughts...

Chuck said...

We probably all have (non-spoken about) stories like this to relate, and all wish we had handled such situations differently. To learn from my missteps is the lesson I hope I take from my similar experiences. To openly share as you did is brave and demonstrates it was a learning experience for you.

Craig Peihopa said...

An interesting post Goldenrod. I certainly related to experiences I have had that are similar. Often times like chuck indicates, I wish i had handled some things differently but the post is a thought provoking one and is appreciated.

Goldenrod said...

I don't know that I have learned ANYthing, Chuck, to tell you the truth. You know the old saying, I'm sure ... "We grow too soon old and too late schmart."

There's another that says (something like), "To be able to acknowledge that I was wrong yesterday only attests to the fact that I am smarter today."

Thank you all for your supportive comments.

Lady Di said...

Hey there Goldenrod
I too have had the same experiences and I am sorry for your pain.
I have learned to limit my need to rescue people from experiences just like what you have shared. As life is a chance to learn and self improvement is an option I find that rescuing people allows them someone to continue with destructive or toxic behaviors toward others which they are hurting themselves with. So it can be very giving to not rescue people.

Nancy said...

Those are two sad stories. I know we all have moments we regret, painful to reflect upon. Maybe your recent friend is feeling the regret this time.

Goldenrod said...

Lady Di, your thoughts and comments are very much appreciated, if not entirely echoed, by me - and those of many of my readers, I venture to say.

There have been entire books and treatises written on this subject, and not a single blog (most specifically, mine!) will provide a definitive answer.