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.