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It’s all about relationships.
Those connections we forge with family, friends and coworkers that sustain us and prod us and make us better than we could be by ourselves.
It’s about the bouquet of flowers the friends of a colleague of mine sent her at work when she was going through a rough patch caring for her ailing mother. That circle of friends has taken her out to breakfast, cried with her and listened to her as she’s grappled with the difficult decision of moving her mother, no longer able to stay in her own home, to a nursing home.
It’s about the five college students who are spending nights with a friend who’s hospitalized at University Hospital in Louisville with meningitis, some sleeping on the floor and others in chairs in the room. They’re also cleaning her apartment (and bathroom, she told me incredulously) and have worked out who will stay with her in shifts between their work hours when she goes home.
It’s about the dozen or so individuals who waited at Addington Field last summer to greet a coworker who was being flown in on a medical flight after suffering a stroke at a nursing conference in Florida. They made a silly video of friends wishing her well that she watched over and over to remind her they were praying for her. They visited her during her recovery, participating in the painful therapy, urging her on. She’s back at school teaching now, a walking miracle.
It’s about the group of men from church who built a wheelchair ramp for an elderly couple who no longer could navigate the steep grade from a porch to a sloping driveway. Over the course of a couple of Saturdays and a few evenings after work, they designed, built and redesigned the tricky angles.
It’s about a woman in her mid-20s who showed up a few months ago at the low-income apartment complex where our church leads a children’s Bible Club every Thursday. Did I remember her, she wondered, from when she attended as a child 15 years ago? She wanted to let me know she recently had been baptized and was in regular Bible study.
It’s about a husband and wife, their children now grown, who are mentoring a couple with two young children. They lent a daughter’s wedding dress so the couple could have a storybook wedding and they’re teaching what they know about navigating the delicate balance between parenting and preserving their relationship.
It’s about working with a young adult Sunday school class in the muddy crawl space under a Habitat for Humanity house on Haycraft Street, nailing vapor barrier insulation along the inside perimeter. The girls good-naturedly chided the guys for not covering as much square footage as they did, and the guys reminded us they had to cut around pipes and heating ducts and we had the straight walls.
It’s about listening and really hearing, sometimes stopping what seems important at the time to take a walk with a friend, offer a hug, or speak an encouraging word or two. It’s about roller skating with a teenager on a recent Friday night — I only fell four times to her seven, I reminded her later as we had coffee at Barnes & Noble.
It’s about watching golf with my husband — I’m flabbergasted that there is more than one dedicated golf channel on cable television — when I’d rather do just about anything else. It’s about his making me breakfast because otherwise I’d skip it.
I’m a get-things-done kind of woman. I like to check off items on my to-do list and am gratified at the end of the day by tossing that half sheet of paper in the recycling bin.
But I’m learning that relationships are so much more important than accomplishments. I’m learning that spending time with the people in my life is good for them and even better for me.
Suzanne Darland teaches journalism classes and is director of the faculty advising center at Elizabethtown Community and Technical College.