Giving Back

Week Three
Tuesday, September 10, 2013

As of today, it’s been three weeks since I started my drug treatment. There’s nothing new to report. As I’ve told several of you, some days I’m doing just fine and other days I’m just plain tired. I have some soreness and a little bit of pain now-and-then, but nothing major. This end-of-the-summer heat has been brutal, and I can tell (as I’ve mentioned in other posts) that the excessive heat and my drugs don’t “mix” well.

So, I stay inside most of the day. I try to write, I update Facebook, I putter around the house with little projects, and I continue job hunting – although my motivation to job hunt waxes and wanes like the phases of the moon.

Which brings me to what else I’ve been doing this summer…giving back. This past week was an especially busy week of volunteering. Even before I got sick, I have always been big on volunteering. In fact, I think back to my days in college and vividly remember being involved in service projects with my fraternity. After college, I continued helping out whenever or however I could. It was after Vicki and I got married and moved to Memphis, however, that the volunteer bug really bit me. For many many years I helped out at church and in the community with a variety of efforts that are too numerous (and too boring) to detail. Let’s just say that I did my fair share, although there are a lot of folks who have done much more volunteering than I could ever imagine.
Glad I don’t have allergies.

This week I spent a significant amount of time helping out with several different charities.  Last Thursday (Sept. 5th), I spent half the day putting flowers into boxes. Not just any flowers, however.  These were big, plastic spinning-wheel flowers for the Alzheimer’s Association. Saturday was the annual Walk to End Alzheimer’s here in Memphis. The flowers were for the Walk’s Memory Garden. Participating walkers received a flower to designate who or why they were walking. Most of you know by now that Alzheimer’s is the leading health issue for the elderly, and experts predict that in just a few years 1 out of every 3 persons over 70 will suffer some form of dementia. For me, this cause is especially personal since my mom is quickly losing her battle with dementia. Her mental and physical health have declined significantly in the past 18 months.

I also helped out for a few hours on Saturday (Sept. 7th) at the Walk. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much purple! I got to direct traffic, which was okay at first. But when people are showing up 10 minutes before the walk is to begin…that’s not fun. (Think Kevin James in Mall Cop.  That’s how I felt towards the end of my shift.) Giving back, however, is not about fun – it’s about doing your part. Which brings me to my other volunteer adventure.

I did hang out under the tent.

On Friday (Sept. 6th), I volunteered for a very unique fundraiser – the second annual Clays for Kids tournament to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House of Memphis. Yes, a clay shooting tournament fundraiser! Only in the South. I could not believe the turnout! And these folks were serious about their clay shooting. It was a great afternoon, but, as I mentioned previously, it was held (of course) outside, and it was hot, very hot.

I enjoyed working this event and meeting a very different group of people. No, the participants were not all bubbas, and most were really friendly and approachable. It helped me to remember that everyone deserves to be judged on their actions, not on how they look or our own perceptions. What’s that saying…”never judge a
book by its cover.” Very true.

Finally, giving back this past week reminded me that everyone has a place in this world, and it’s up to us to recognize what’s truly important – being there for others. Whether it’s being a good spouse, parent, or friend, we all have a place that is our own. It’s simply a matter of figuring out where we belong and where we can be most helpful, as all of us – myself included – continue life’s journey.

Until tomorrow….

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