Friday, May 15, 2020

Look for the helpers. Be the helpers.

"When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping." Mr. Rogers

Months ago -- it seems like a lifetime or two -- I gave a webinar to rehabilitation experts from the island in my kitchen. I remember being so nervous that day. Not because I would be speaking. I love to tell our story to anyone who will hand me a microphone. No, I was nervous because audience response is an important part of speaking for me, giving me energy, and allowing me to know when to elaborate on a topic or when to move on. I wasn't sure I would get that through Zoom. I mean -- and this is hard to believe in May 2020 -- but in January 2020 I didn't even know what Zoom was!

And so it was that pre-pandemic, I became familiar with the platform that would become imperative to our country. And my initiation was delightful. I found the engagement worked and I thoroughly enjoyed the community. At the end of my talk, a therapist in Lubbock, Texas reached out to introduce herself. She had heard me share about Mason and my pride coupled with worry about his graduate work across the country from me at Texas Tech. Amy Odom wanted me to know that if he ever needed anything, she would get there to help him. (She would get there to help me.) Amy's email was comforting and I filed it away in my mind as a resource.

Mason and I on campus at Texas Tech during his move-in. 

Then the world turned upside down. Our spring break plans changed to just meeting Mason in Mississippi (where he had flown to see friends) and getting him home. He has been distant learning/teaching from here. And we kept pushing aside worries of his remaining belongings left in his apartment. But this week we could push those worries aside no longer. He had to empty his dorm room. We had to get his things out and into storage. I messaged Amy to see if she knew anyone who needed a job for the day.

Amy and her son Trey went to pack Mason's things. Then they loaded them up and graciously took them to their home where they will be waiting for him when he returns to Texas. 

Amy found me a storage unit in a trustworthy area and sent me the information. Then she connected me with a wheelchair vendor -- Brent Hudson -- with accessible transportation who can get Mason's scooter and get it to a storage facility.

As these people worked tirelessly to help my son, I was struck by the fact that it is only via Zoom and social media that we know each other at all. And yet here they are, serving us, helping us.

Mr. Rogers has been echoing in my head.

Last Fall, our family was working an event at Wade's hospital for his patients and their families. One of the vendors was from a local salon. Karen Sgroi was at the event to offer discounts to these mothers who often need a treat in their lives. I had been searching for the right hairdresser (y'all know my belief that a good haircut solves all my problems.), and so I called Pagave Salon and made an appointment immediately after the event. I soon learned that not only does Karen have a huge heart, she does great hair! She has done so much to make Delaware feel like home!

Of course, the pandemic has affected everything. I missed an appointment, Claire missed one, Benjamin missed his....we were all looking more than a bit shabby. When our governor announced salons could re-open, Karen called. She was able to get me in under the restrictions -- one customer at a time, etc. But she didn't want the boys to have to even do that. She asked me if she could just come to the house and cut their hair to be absolutely safe.

Karen and Benjamin!

Again, Mr. Rogers echoed in my head.

I watch my favorite surgeon help every single day. He takes care of the patients he can by telehealth. He dons his mask and cares for the emergencies in person. He does the surgeries. He holds the endless conference calls every single day to ensure that his team, his staff, his hospital are meeting the needs of their patients and changing/adapting/writing new policies to protect them as best they can. Like many medical professionals we have spent weeks separated by rooms so that he can ensure he is keeping us all safe. We have learned to relish the days we can sit on the couch together! Wade and his team are helpers.

Amy and her son are helpers.

Karen and her staff are helpers.

When the unknowns are piling up, when the uncertainties feel heavy, when emotions are high, we have to remember to look for the helpers. For me, when my outlet for connecting with friends -- social media -- blows up with controversies and debate, I have to remember to look for those who help. I have to remember to walk away and look for ways I can help.

Carol - The Blessings Counter