Monday, April 18, 2011

Fun Filled Sacrifice

After not one or two tries, but three Ellen finally succeeded in getting her swollen and stiff legs into my mini SUV. I pulled left out of her parking lot and headed down East Market towards the Green Acres Florist. "Do you need anything from the post office," I inquired.

"Nope," she answered.

"I'm going to the florist first and then we can go to Molloy's," I explained.

"I want to go in half on the flowers. How much do you want?" she asked.

"Ten will do it," I replied.

I pulled into Green Acres' parking lot next to a huge white tractor trailer parked there to deliver new, fresh flowers. "I'll wait here," Ellen said.

"I'll be back in a few," I responded while eyeing all the fresh daffodils and tulips planted outside the small shop.

Moments later I returned with a huge bouquet of fresh spring and summer flowers wrapped in green tissue paper and clear plastic wrap. "Oh, these are just perfect!" Ellen exclaimed with eyes bright eyed and wide. "What are we going to do if he cries?" she pondered aloud.

"I don't know," I said as I relished the thought of bringing tears to one of the most shrewd and hard nosed business men I've ever met.

We continued chatting onto the next stop, May's Pharmacy just five minutes down the road. "Do you want me to go in for you Ellen?" I politely asked while not wanting to discourage her independence.

"That's fine. You're my legs today. Here let me give you some mons," she said while digging through her wallet. "Large print puzzles and a Hershey chocolate bar any size," she reminded me.

The next stop would be John Smith's home. Ellen got news that the seventy something widow had fallen out of bed and was not doing well at all. She's known him for more than forty years. Although he appears quite dignified and shrewd as ever from behind the desk at our complex's rental office; Ellen remembers him as a great card player and hilarious as ever. Today was the day we decided to stop in and share a visit and some small, but lovely gifts with him.

Ellen shifted her body to the right and gingerly stepped down and onto the blacktop paved driveway of John's home. She grabbed my arm for support to walk up the narrow path to his front door. Only minutes prior she was chatting on and on about how fun it was to do ministry and have someone to do it with.

I rang the bell and John bellowed, "Come in!" I opened the door and allowed Ellen to pass in front of me. She shuffeled a bit before grabbing the railing to hoist each foot upon the brown carpeted stairs. "Can you get the stairs OK, Ellen?" John called out with concern.

"I'm taking my time," she answered. Once to the top she breathed a sigh of relief and cheerfully greeted her long time friend. 'We brought you some goodies, John," Ellen announced with glee.

I handed the large bouquet of colorful flowers by greeting him with,"For the man who loves flowers."

"Why these are just beautiful!" he beamed. "Please sit down," he motioned.

For the next half hour or so Mr. Smith went on and on sharing what's been happening while inquiring about the newly moved in tenants. He could not thank us enough for our time and gifts. The hard nosed business man I had always known from behind the rental office's desk was as delightful as the flowers we brought him.

After dropping Ellen back off to her apartment, I watched her through the tinted passenger window as she made her way, slowly and carefully putting one foot in front of the other upon the narrow concrete walkway. Finally, she grabbed the wooden railing and once again lifted one foot at a time up each concrete step before entering her sweet, cozy domain. She had given what she could today all from her heart and the little physical strength she had. As Mother Theresa once alluded we can all do, Ellen performed a small act of kindness today with great love.

It is no easy task to rise above one's glaring reality of cancer and limited strength. It is even greater to look upon the needs of others and become some sunshine to brighten their day. Ellen made a fun filled sacrifice today and reveled in every minute of it.

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