October 2009 Archives

Gratitude and Grace

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This post is a bit more personal than I tend to do on my Teachnology blog, but I believe it's important to say thank you. And I want the widest possible audience to see the fabulousness of the folks around me. So here goes.

Many of you already know that I've been going through some difficult personal times lately. Namely, a divorce. Those of you who didn't know, trust me--it's not fun. Compounding this situation was the fact that I had a partially completed addition on my house that my ex and I were to have finished. We didn't. It wasn't. And in order for me to keep the house and home for the kids, finishing the addition was essential.

Enter the most fantastic group of people you will ever meet--folks who are humbling in their caring, their warmth, and their generosity. Enter the Tweet Peeps, the KnitPistols, and the friends and neighbors who rolled up their sleeves and dug in. This post is for them.

First, to Hannah, who generously did without her new husband Jay for some very long hours while he planned, plotted, constructed, supervised, and otherwise made the whole project possible. She was generous in giving up time she had every right to expect, prolific in her baking, her time, and her flexibility, and relentless in her encouragement.

Next, of course, to Jay himself, who came in to the house right after I separated, took one look at the unfinished space, and said, "We're going to do this, and you're going to be in here by Thanksgiving." He did this despite his new marriage, his 18 credits of college coursework, and his responsibilities to other projects. People like Jay should be lauded wherever they go, not only for their work ethic, but for their generosity and sense of justice.

To Robin, who came whenever there was work to be done and didn't get enough, so came back for more. Who trusted me enough to stand below a window while I handed her a wood floor, two-to-three pieces at a time, for hours, trusting that I wouldn't knock her out or give her a concussion in the bargain. Who encouraged, drove to Lowe's, drove back, drove to Lowe's, drove back, and who generally kept me laughing even when I was so tired I thought I might cry. Who made coffee near midnight, swept the floor while the sawdust was flying, and made far too many trips on her replacement knees up and down the stairs to take things to and from the addition. She was and is both generous and gracious, and wonderfully, wonderfully loyal.

To Nancy, who came and grouted on her hands and knees for hours, and who risked life and limb to paint over a whole lot of empty space beneath her. Who loaned her woodworker husband Brian for whatever I might need to complete the space, who let me cry while we were running but never let it slow the pace, who made food as well as performed labor and who was and is there for me whenever I need her. Nancy has been my best friend for nearly 10 years, and she has shown me what dignity, loyalty, tact, and love can really do.  She takes people as they are, always assumes the best, and gets me out of my head when I need to be. She is what people mean when they talk about grace, and I aspire to live to her example.

To her husband Brian too, who came when I needed him, who stayed when he was beyond tired, who laid baseboard and painted and even bought paint when we ran short. Who made sure that Nancy was okay with him finishing projects for me when he needed to do things at home. Who spent time measuring, cutting, nailing, repairing, and doing what needed to be done wherever it was needed. Most of all, to Brian whose calm, unflappable nature made the work go so much more easily.

To my dad, who dropped everything and came to help, who worked 16-hour days at an age where that should no longer be expected, and who is so talented at everything that all he touched just seemed to work. Plumbing, tile, framing, electrical, phone, hot water heater, laundry tub, baseboard heaters, cabling--nothing is beyond this man, and I appreciate him more now than I ever could have growing up. I now know that not everyone's dad can do all this, and I love him and respect him for doing it all for me. Thanks, Dad.

To John, my stepbrother, who despite a lot of hip and knee pain, limped through the house and up and down stairs for two days to lay me one heck of a tile floor. Who worked harder than he should have been expected to for a stepsister he rarely sees, who asked for nothing but a couch to sleep on, and who offered learning and advice on home improvement while also taking instruction and advice where he probably already knew what to do. Thanks to John for his loyalty, family spirit, and willingness to help me through his own physical pain.

To Joe, my "apparently almost a cousin" and coworker, who dropped his Saturday activities and came to work on the addition in whatever capacity he was needed. To paint, put together a toilet, take my good-natured abuse, work some more, and basically stay beyond what anyone had the right to expect. To Joe, who takes the sarcasm, gives it back, but still is supportive and helpful to the very end. I'm lucky you're around, guy. Thanks.

To Larry, a former boss who has become a trusted friend. The Boy Scout who is ever prepared, ready to take it on, and will try anything if it might help you out. Who came to work on the wood floor but cheerfully learned how to lay tile instead, because that's where we needed him. Who took the time out of his day to lend me his truck, who said "whatever you need" and meant it, and who is one of the best listeners I've ever met. Thanks, Lar. You absolutely rock. Never forget it.

To Susan, who knows all of electrical, who brought her own (pink) tools to the party, and gave as good as she got. Who laid backer board for hours, wiped grout, taught me to wire up a light fixture safely, who said that women can do home improvement as well as men, and then proved it, and who came and stayed and stayed until we were done. Who has known me through thick and thin, good and bad, and who is supportive no matter what. Thanks, Susan. You don't know how much that means to me.

To Don and Jo Anne, two of some of the best neighbors I could ever have. To Don, who helped with the wood and his always excellent advice, and Jo Anne, who treats me like a daughter, including making food for the workers even though I hadn't asked her to. These two have been married for over 50 years, and they are the best, kindest, and most supportive couple you will ever meet. Married folk should take lessons from them. Seriously.

To Ruth and Keith, two of my other neighbors who rock. Ruth made chili for the entire workforce, and bought beer for the first time in her life for our flooring party. Keith came and stayed, and stayed, painting, spackling, and generally helping out wherever there was need. These two people live their faith--generous, helpful, good Samaritans to all who come in contact with them, without ever asking for anything in return. They are to be emulated.

To Kathy and Rich, two other fabulous neighbors. Who never laugh when I stop by and say, "I need you to show me how to run my..." Who also say, "Whatever you need" and mean it, and who are willing to keep an eye on cats, kids, yard, and house whenever my life takes me away from here. Without them, I wouldn't know how to run my leaf blower, lawn mower, fill my tiki torches, edge my yard, or caulk my shower. For homeowner lessons, they are the best!

To Nicole and Kevin, who are my vacation buddies, close friends, and ever-present support network. To Kevin, who expended his tutoring skills on my behalf, and to Nicole, who showed up after a VERY long day of volunteering to volunteer at my house, too. You've checked in on me, offered comfort, offered support, resources, and help whenever I've needed it.  I am truly grateful.

Finally, to the rest of you--on Facebook, Twitter, and real life--who have been supportive in so many ways. From those of you who commented on the Flickr pictures and encouraged us to go on, to those of you who sent messages or tweets of support, you have no idea what that has done. Social networking is often seen as a self-centered activity that screams, "All about me! Look what I did!" But I will tell you--and I know from experience--that it is far more about helping the community than touting your own stuff.

When I needed a smile, @VitaLuna, @obahama, and @reginaldgolding made me laugh. When I needed a prayer, Pastor Chuck Smith or Jen and Scott Johnson were there to pray. When I needed a "go get 'em," @meeshiefeet, @iAudrey, @hallekins, @micala, @PourpreNoir, @paxsarah, @agyorke, @jeffswain, @3dogMcNeill, @PinkPeonies, and a host of others were around. When I needed a weather report, for cripes' sake, I could always ask @JamieOber. And he delivered them custom. When I needed technical help or other encouragement, I had @bpanulla and @jasonheffner, @jmundie and @cmykdorothy, April and Abby, @davideisert and @kevinoshea. When I needed anything in real life, @onthelevel, @bevinhernandez, friends Jim and Anita, Robin D., my mom, my sister Val, and a host of others were willing to drop things in their own lives to assist. I know I am missing folk here--but the point is that you were ALL there. Always. And that means a lot. More than anything, I think.

Thus begins a new chapter. But the one that's just been completed means oh-so-much to me. I will never be able to repay these people. Never. But if you see them, and say thank you, or appreciate their being in the world in any way, then it will be a better place for all of us, I think.

Peace.

Stevie

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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