The other evening, while attempting to be social, a friend who has recently gone through a personal crisis said to me "Phenom told me to tell you when I'd need some meals . . . I'll need some next week."
Okay. Phenom had not bothered to mention this offer had been made before, but it is the sort of thing I do.
Today, I made a double batch of Cinncinati style chili and roasted a chicken. I gathered all the toppings for the Cinncinati chili (cheese, onion, oyster crackers, kidney beans). At some point, the Phenom asked why I was making so much food, and when are we going to eat that chicken?
I told him I'd been informed that an offer of meals had been made. Phenom says no . . . that the offer of "anything we can do to help" was made.
On one monkey shaped hand, I am a tad startled by the forwardness of the request. But, mostly I'm thinking there is a lesson in this for me. Last year when I was so sick and in and out of the hospital, many people offered assistance to us and each and every time, we turned it down. Most of the time, it was vague "let us know" type offers, but there were some very specific offers . . . like a friend who saw the Phenom picking up our take out dinner and offered/really wanted to pay for it.
Looking back, we turned those offers down because we were a tad embarassed. We never quite wrapped our brains around needing help. And, I realize now, it was a mistake. We should let people help us Someday, they might not offer. We're always tremendously helpful to others, and we need to learn to allow others to return the favor. That being said, do leave it to the afflicted to figure out what they need you to do. Figure out something, creatively, and do it.
Like the gift certificate to a local restaurant I tucked into the door of a friend whose mother passed away this week. My friend has spent the last week sitting at her bedside, administering hourly pain meds . . . a good, hot meal she could just pick up and even have left overs the next day, was needed. (She lives alone, and much like us has a really annoying independent streak. ) I find that if nothing else, a pizza gift certificate can always be used. And cookies. Even if the afflicted doesn't eat them, the people around will.