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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Tales from the old-timer

Paying it Forward

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

daughter of the Old-Timer



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My husband recently experienced a serious illness and was hospitalized for 11 days. We live in Oklahoma, far from our families, and that makes it harder for them to support and help us at such a time. Never fear, our co-workers wentabove and beyond to offer us help.

There is nothing you can do to directly repay the kindness of people who help at times like these. We were overwhelmed with home-cooked meal deliveries; cards, offers of prayer, calls, and visits. We had offers for pet care, errand running, or relief from the bedside vigil. When my friends within the company found out we weren’t going to be able to travel “home” to Wisconsin for the holiday as usual, we received a gift box of eight pounds of Wisconsin cheese and sausage, and another coworker who is from Tulsa but works at the Neenah facility hand-delivered a case of Spotted Cow beer.

Our families kept in close contact and my sister the nurse hopped a plane and came down to help, a true blessing at such a time.

I can’t pay each of these people back, although I will offer each of them my profuse thanks. What I can do, is pay it forward, and help someone else in their time of need. This is the time honored custom of caring, and as you grow older you deepen in your understanding and appreciation of such gestures. It’s being a good neighbor, regardless of how far you live from the person who needs help.

I grew up watching the tension and stress of concern about a neighbor or friend eased by the familiar labor of making a pie or casserole to take to the family. Taking action eases the worry, and the gift is a physical expression of what is in the heart. My own specialty is taking in pets or caring for pets at the homes of those with a crisis underway. We have hosted tiny Pomeranians all the way up to big Rottweilers for weeks or months at our house, while someone battled illness or got their affairs in order. Our own pets are used to these visitors, and adjust easily.

One of the most touching gestures is someone who remembers the caregiver. Rightly so, the care and concern flows to the person who is ill. But if you want to really make a gesture to bring comfort, send a card to the caregiver. It is so touching to think that someone is thinking specifically of you, and acknowledging your fatigue, your stress, your burden. I was taught this lesson by one of my maternal aunts many years ago. I have never forgotten it.

There are people all around you who could use a gesture of support today. Reach out to them. It will make you a better person, and someone will “pay it forward” back someday when you least expect it - and are most in need of it.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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