Often it is something small and simple that warms our heart:
Like the “Wish Sister” my sister Pat gave me, propped up on the shelf of my desk. Just looking at it makes me smile.
And sometimes it is the little things in one’s life that whittle away our time, until cumulatively, they feel like one very big thing.
That is what I have been experiencing recently. Each day I have had something that I needed to do or somewhere I needed to go; work at my sister’s consignment store, a family meeting at my mother’s, a speech one evening, an interview another day. All were very enjoyable activities, but with a van load of things to price from my mother’s estate, a book to work on, and two dozen boxes of my own things to price, the balance we all strive for as women suddenly tipped in the “too-busy” direction. I wasn’t getting to do things I enjoy but have to make time for: walks with my sister, a letter to my friend Mary or a look at her latest essay, or even posting on my blog.
I was feeling a tad bit overwhelmed.
I canceled a dentist appointment, postponed a field trip with a friend, skipped the morning walk a few times.
But still I felt it; that looming stress. I knew what it stemmed from and when it started, but I wasn’t exactly sure how to fix it. It was triggered when I saw my van filled to the brim with boxes of things of my mother’s to be priced for my next garage sale. It intensified when I saw my attic steps piled high with my own things to price. And when the calendar on my wall reflected yet another upcoming week filled with appointments and obligations, I experienced what can only be described as extreme anxiety.
Luckily, I have people who care about me who either sensed my anxiety or responded to my expressed need for help. To some, their gift of time would have seemed a small thing. To me, it has been priceless.
My sister Joan offered to spend a day or two helping me price for my garage sale. My husband took my place taking the kids to the dentist on Tuesday. And this morning, my 14-year-old left a note on her door for me to wake her up so she could take the first two hours of a stint of babysitting I was doing today.
Those two hours made all the difference.
When Emily left to do her two hours, I relaxed a little. I finished a letter, edited my friend’s essay, clipped some coupons, and answered a few important e-mails. After leisurely getting dressed, I still had time to get a load of laundry going before the two grandchildren arrived at my house. Now, a few hours later, I’m sitting in my daughter Elizabeth’s quiet house on her computer, Jo-Jo fast asleep on the couch. I’m not sure what Jo-Jo thought about the Kenny G CD I put on after we walked here in the brisk Spring air, but unlike his aunts and uncles, he didn’t complain. Less than five minutes after sitting on the couch next to me, he fell asleep holding my hand.
I know a woman who craves lavish gifts from her husband; shiny baubles as a declaration of his love.
“Diamonds. Big diamonds,” she elaborates.
For me, nothing says love better than being served a hot mug of tea after a long day.
Or the reminder of a sister’s love in a whimsical doll to decorate a desk.
But for me, the very best gift of all is a gift of time:
My sister’s offer to share in a time-consuming chore.
My husband taking over my usual task of carting children to a dental appointment.
My young daughter giving me an extra two hours of work this morning.
Simple gestures, perhaps, but gifts from the heart. And you can’t buy that kind of love and support.
And holding my grandson’s hand while he falls asleep?
There isn’t a diamond on Earth big enough to take the place of that precious moment.