learning generosity

Wikipedia defines generosity as:

“…the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return. It can involve offering time, assets or talents to aid someone in need. Often equated with charity as a virtue, generosity is widely accepted in society as a desirable trait.”

Coming into Alan’s family many years ago taught me what family is: people to help you along when you need them, and people that you help along when they need you.  Family is a network of strength and love and it means that you are never alone.  Alan’s family, at the drop of a hat, give whatever they can to help each other.  Their generosity doesn’t stop at family; it spreads far beyond bloodlines.  Alan has embodied his family’s generosity and been a devoted and giving husband who almost never complains or tires, even on the most exhausting days.  He has been my rock and his family has been my lifeline.

In the last few years I have learned much about generosity from my friend Alisha, who is one of the most generous people I have ever known.  Her generosity is combined with grace and social competence; she knows when to offer help and when to give it without asking.  After Anna’s birth, Alisha gave me the most profound gift of generosity I have ever received.  She came to my house every day for two weeks to tidy up, make food, and pamper me with wonderful gifts such foot rubs or drawing a bath and taking care of my new baby in the meantime.  After that she continued to come every couple of days over a long period of time. She encouraged me to rest and to ask for help. She cleaned my dust bunnies and kept up the laundry and even put hotel corners on the toilet paper roll in the bathroom. She made me feel special and loved at a most vulnerable time in my life. Alisha’s generosity has had a constant presence throughout our friendship, both in times of need and in times of abundance.  Alisha is always aware of what I need, listens to me, and gives me honest advice when I am ready to receive it.  Sometimes I think she knows me better than I know myself.

My ankle still needs much rest and recovery, and I have two children and a household to care for and a job to go to this weekend.  Alan has a busy work life and graduate school to attend, but regardless, he is doing laundry and making container gardens (my project that was halted when I injured myself) in the little time that he is home.  Alisha is needing help, too; she is recovering from abdominal surgery and taking care of a child and a home while her husband works out of state.  I wish I could give her more right now than a listening ear.  Soon, perhaps.

My mother-in-law, also one of the most generous people I have ever known, has given me much help, love and caring over the last few days.  And I have not even had to ask for it.  She has brought dinners, cleaned my kitchen, swept my floors, picked up my walking cast from the medical store and delivered it to me, and taken my children to the toy store to pick out something new and fun to play with while Mommy is laid up.  And I am sure this will not be the last of it. She has a heart that gives endlessly.

Being loved and cared for is a wondrous thing.


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