It's about giving, I get it. Giving freely, learning to give freely I should say. Willingness. Sharing myself, my abilities, my sober benefits, without expectation. Grace.
It's easier to give at Christmas, most everybody's doing it. Christians anyway. I'm more than not Christian myself. Enough to not show "full frontal" in the Garden of Eden anyway. So it's my time of year to move freely. I can give a little or actually give a lot more. Awareness is high. I could give everything I have away and get away with it so Yeah! I'm ready to get in line and give freely of what I have found..
I found a new place to give this year. (((THE NURSING HOME))). It's a heavy place really. Mostly emotionally torn up roads that detour or close and end here.. On any given day the people coming in and out are struck with emotion coping with their elderly and sick. Family members putting their axes down for a hour visit in peace. The old man walking back to his car five times to check on himself. Lost and alone while his wife lays in her room waiting for it all to end. What do you do here? What do I have to offer here? Everything I have cannot measure up to the needs of these people.
In years past the family shelters, halfway houses and such. They were easy in comparison. Not that there's anything easy about a battered women shelter of Family holding shelter, no. Absolutely not. I mean wrapped winter hats and gloves, mittens and puzzles well, It was a easy fit in comparison for me. Me, not them. I could buy a pile of seemingly good stuff and wrap it all up and drop it off at the shelter Christmas eve. Done.
The Nursing Home well, that's a bit different. Hats and mittens? I don't think so. Most there are not going outside anymore except for maybe mid summer sitting on the piazza in a even line of wheelchairs showing off each others fiberglass hairdo (somebody pays cash for) and 90 year old doll faces...
The old guy isn't going to want a pair of gloves. He's survived 80 plus years of changing seasons. He may be sitting there in his diaper now but when he sees me walking down the hall he thinks kid? I shite bigger than you when I was your age..Back in the day when I wiped my own ass. How do I give to him? Eye contact and a look of genuine respect? It's all I got. This is a man, the mans end.
The Alzheimer's Dementia floor. Upstairs where nobody really visits much. It's a hard button to push. Level 3. The elevator door opens to what looks like a normal elderly hospital with an exception. No two people are on the same frequency. People talking at each other if talking at all, others staring off through their fragmented minds eye. What can I give here? I don't really know so I'll go with kindness. I can show kindness. I'm going to pick kindness or maybe I shouldn't go here at all? Maybe I just don't belong here.
So anyway...I'm sitting in the parking lot after my own visit watching people come and go trying to think of what I can offer here on this Christmas. These people who voted for Eisenhower, Kennedy, these people who saved to buy a color TV. Many who saw the spiritual realm through two lenses, Catholic or Protestant. Lost family in over a half dozen wars. Many who still do not understand the "new math". Or why everyone is still up in arms over skin color. These people have been around, man. What do I have to offer the wisdom of the elderly. It's beyond me. I can't come up with anything but acceptance, respect? More kindness?
Well, I can't buy everybody new TV's. And I don't want to offer anything that will change the dynamic already in place. These people live here, I'm just a visitor. Then it hits me! I saw these Christmassy pictured thermal cups with a straw that can't come out. Screw on cover? It did seem as if everybody had a Styrofoam cup of water bedside. Yeah! This is a great idea! Ok, I'll start with 50. A couple of cases. It's going to need to be an easy unwrap so a colored bag with a bow and some tissue paper, it's all coming together, these will be a great Christmas celebration gift!
So I make arrangements to drop them off Christmas eve and the Nurse or activities director says some people can't swallow. Damn, I hadn't thought of that. Christ.. People can't swallow? Like right now as I type away on my laptop with my cup of coffee that needs a re heat and I need to get up and walk to the kitchen and nuke it? Poor me! While there are people in a nursing home that can't swallow? I want to yell at the ceiling HEY! Jesus! It's me Stepsherpa the selfish bastard! There's people, your people here that can't swallow! Do something will ya! Like right now, today! It's an impulse thing. I know it's beyond my control. I guess I just want to be heard.
Ok, fine, no problem. people can't eat or swallow on their own. I find a dozen or so shampoo, body wash, conditioner packs that are nice. Not quite a Four Seasons bath kit but a step up from Motel 6. It's weird how they jumped out at me in the store, almost as if they were waiting for me to find them and buy them. I wrap them up for the people that can't swallow? I don't know if scented is good or bad but the activities director says that's fine. So there it is I guess. I really did try but in all honesty here I really don't know what I'm doing.. I wanted to give whatever I had at this nursing home this Christmas and it came together with a couple of day's to spare. I sit here grateful for what my God has given me to offer others. I feel lucky, fortunate. It seems crazy really? The more you give the more you have to give.
A few minutes ago I got pinged by a guy I sponsor on the Big Book 12 Step path. The text read as if he had some kind of revelation. I laughed to myself. He's writing on his 4th Step and is beginning to see why he or any of us really, never could attempt any personal inventory. The power of resentment. The bondage of self. I am grateful for this particular guy. He wants it, he needs it just like I did seemingly so many years ago sure, but I see it for what it is this morning just as clear. I need him as much as he needs me. We are walking together day by day on the spiritual path suggested in the Big Book 12 Steps. And like it says. To watch others recover? We know you will not want to miss it and I can say for me? Here, now? I am grateful for the life offered me in the AA 12 Steps. I would just like to say thank you. Really. From the heart, thank you for a life to live, a reason for living. Thank you for the new man.
And Merry Christmas Bill Wilson.