Thursday, September 18, 2008

What can I do to help?

I hear this question often since my brother died. So many of us tend to say that we can’t think of anything. We think that turning down offers of help is the right thing to do. That way we won’t burden the other person. In reality, you are rejecting their love when you reject their offer of help. If you accept help, you allow them to serve you and you become obligated – or at least that’s the perception.

When folks have asked how they can help, I’ve accepted their love offering and suggested that they bring meals to my parents’ house. Many of us converge on their house now; it’s our central station for planning our brother’s funeral.

“You have such nice friends,” my mother told me after the parents of Larissa’s best friend dropped off some chicken and rice and a cake.

“I’ve taken them up on their offers to help,” I replied. And indeed, this visit and the visit of coworkers have cheered us and helped us in a tangible way.

But help on a completely different level came about from a conversation with Greg’s boss. I mentioned that in the past, especially after Greg’s divorce, my family would come over in the fall to rake the leaves in my brother’s wooded lot. He always had a LOT of leaves because of his 40 or so trees. “With Greg gone, we will have to do a lot of raking this fall,” I sighed.

“Now there’s a way we can help,” said Barb. “We’ll do the raking.” She had mentioned that the folks at work wanted to know how they could help the family, and this was a concrete way.

“Well, you can help even sooner. The windstorm a few days ago knocked off a lot of branches in his yard,” I informed Barb.

The next day when I visited his house, the branches were cleaned up, the deck and walkways swept, the lawn raked.

Today even more bags of leaves were by the curb. Like little secrets Santas, people had come and bagged leaves, mowed the lawn, and left.

While Greg was an avid gardener and had just painted his house and changed the roof, the inside of his house is a different story. It’s a true bachelor pad. When you open the front door, you step over his toolkit. Even though Ruby the cat is very timid and hides, you know that there’s a cat in the house by the white cat fur. (We took the cat to my parents for the time being.) Clothes are strewn on the floor in one room; in the office, you can hardly get to the desk. The linoleum floor is in need of replacement because it’s broken in places. The wall studs are visible because part of the wall is missing in the dining room.

The house needs an overwhelming amount of work. My brother simply hadn’t gotten to it. He was living life – biking, ski patrolling, and spending time with his sweetheart.

“We’ll need to do a lot of work on the house before we can sell it,” I mentioned to Barb tonight when I called to thank her for the yard work.

“Just tell us what you need done and when you want to do it. You’ll have to limit the volunteers to they’re not tripping over each other,” Barb said.

I’m humbled, truly humbled by this outpouring of help – of love. In large part, it’s a testimony to the type of person my brother was. My brother touched many, many lives in his short life. He was a dedicated father of a disabled child, and although his life was tough at times, he didn’t complain. He could always see the bright side of things, even about being the parent of a disabled child. “He’s always happy,” Greg said of his son. And Greg seemed like he was always happy, too.

1 comment:

a kelly said...

How wonderful to hear of helping friends.
And how wonderful that your brother lived life fully. I think he had his priorities in order.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
— Albert Pike, Scottish Rite Freemason (1809-1891)