BRODY: A different kind of gift

After a lifetime of training my brain to recall memories that turn into life lessons, I am surprised as anything I have found, over and over, that one of the sweetest gifts to give another is to need them.

I also know how hard it is to ask for help. We somehow equate not being able to do what you are asking with weakness, and that’s just not true.

Try to remember the last thing someone asked you to do for them.

Did it make you think that person was weak or unable to do for himself or herself? I sincerely doubt it.

Instead, were you flattered that the person chose you to help?

One of the most vivid memories I recall was with a neighbor named Mary. She had three children, the youngest, Brian, being fraught with physical and emotional challenges.

Mary was the school nurse at the private elementary school were her children and my children attended.

There came a day when Brian felt very sick which only made his problems harder to handle.

My telephone rang early. It was Mary.

“Jean, you are the only one I can trust to safely take care of Brian when he is sick. Could you possibly give me your day so I can work?” she asked.

Don’t get me wrong. Brian was a big handful at 5 years old. I didn’t want to give her my day.

At the same time, I was so moved that she trusted me out of all of our friends who knew Brian’s problems.

“Mary, I’d be happy to give you my day and my love. I’ll be there in half an hour,” I said.

I went, and I meant the love part.

From that day on, I felt a depth of love for not only Mary but Brian as well. It was like she had given me the gift of trust, and I felt honored for the gift.

But that is not the end of this gift business.

I never forgot how special my gift to Mary that day was, and as life will do to us, it was my turn to need a huge gift, one we never would have felt we could ask for.

It was time for my regular six-month check up at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

This time, we got permission ahead of time to take Guinney, our Newfoundland dog.

In itself that was a gift from the Mayo Taylor Hotel, but at the last minute, they changed their mind, and we could no longer bring Guinney with us.

The last time we had to kennel him, he almost starved to death because we had to extend our stay for four more weeks, and he couldn’t handle it.

Who on earth would take our 160-pound love of a dog for who knew how long?

One night I had a telephone call from the breeder who sold us Guinney so many years ago. They called because they dearly missed our wonderful dog and wondered if he could stay with them during the summer months so he could romp and play.

It just so happens that during this very trip, we got the shock that it was Gene who was even sicker than I was with cancer, and we’d be away from the farm during all of his treatments.

It was a God thing.

These people kept and loved our Guinney two months for free, and loved every minute of it.

We remain friends to this day because of it. They said they loved the fact we gave them the opportunity to reacquaint with Guinney.

The third example was between Sharon and me. I was in a bad way when it was time for my six-month Mayo check up.

Most of my friends knew of my unrelenting pain, including my friend Sharon.

One day, she showed up at our house to announce, “I need to talk with Jean. This is serious. I have decided to take your pain.”

I stared at my friend as tears came to my eyes, “Oh Sharon, how beautiful. But you don’t want this pain.”

“But my husband and I prayed about this, and we are ready to relieve you of your back pain until you go to Mayo soon. We are ready.”

Well, of course it isn’t possible to literally take someone’s pain, and I know that.

Yet, the feeling I got as I looked at my friend was one of such love and humbleness that she would actually practically lay down her life for me. Talk about a love gift.

You know, asking for help doesn’t have to be a big thing.

Maybe you can’t reach high enough to hang a new picture or even bend down low enough to pick up something on the floor. Rather than sit and stew about these little things, if you will just ask someone to do the deed for you it’s a win-win.

You get it done, and the person you asked for help felt better the rest of the day because they helped someone.

This column wouldn’t be complete without this last example.

Wednesday evening is my favorite night of the week.

My son-in-law, Steve, comes to my apartment at Brookdale, and together, I dictate my column, and he types. This has allowed me to continue my purpose.

Can you imagine a more loved-filled gift?

And Steve cringes in embarrassment as he writes this.

The view from the mountain is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.