A Helping Hand

I always hoped I’d be the sort of person who could greet any sort of hardship with a cheerful smile and a “can do” attitude, rolling up my sleeves to get to work on solving whatever problem I happen to be facing. I wanted to automatically count my blessings each morning when I woke up, no matter what the day had in store. I wanted to be the person who feels, deep down in her heart, that no matter how long a difficult situation lasts, I’m absolutely certain I last even longer.

And some days, I am exactly that sort of person. I’m genuinely thankful for what I have, and I absolutely feel strong enough to deal with whatever trouble comes my way. But the problem is that I also have other days, when I’m impatient, annoyed, discouraged, and above all, just plain crabby.

Living with the fear of Covid isn’t easy when you have seasonal allergies, especially since the list of possible Covid symptoms has expanded to include almost every symptom that my allergies cause. I used to get a sore throat and think, “Darn, the pollen counts are high again.” Now I think, “OMG, do I have Covid????” I worry that my husband’s cancer treatments will be derailed by either a positive Covid test or that hospitals will once again halt most surgeries and procedures that aren’t Covid-related. And sometimes, I just plain get tired of the difficulties in doing every day things, like grocery shopping, going to the dentist, or getting a leaking basement pipe repaired.

I miss going to church on Sunday mornings, and eating out with friends. I used to worry if I left the house without my cell phone, but now I panic if I reach in my purse and can’t find my trusty little bottle of hand sanitizer. I miss being able to drop in at my mother’s apartment to check that she’s really okay.

I know these are all minor complaints and that many people are in MUCH worse situations. Believe me, I get that. But as the weeks stretch into months and the months threaten to stretch into years, there are times when reminding myself that I’m better off than many others just doesn’t help much.

But the one thing that never fails to help is when another person reaches out in kindness and concern. Never have I appreciated what a gift that is more than I do now.

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On the day before my husband’s first chemo treatment, my daughter dropped off a “care basket” full of supplies to help him cope. Friends and family have called, sent cards, and just plain listened without judgement when I needed to vent. Neighbors have invited us over to sit on their patio for an evening of wine and good conversation. A family friend has reached out regularly to my mother, knowing that she needs extra contact to combat the loneliness the Covid restrictions have caused her and most other senior citizens.

The truth is, life is rather challenging for all of us these days, to various degrees and for a variety of reasons. But if we can all remember to reach out to someone else with an encouraging word, a sympathetic ear, or even just the gift of our (socially distanced) presence, life will be a bit easier for everyone. And if that isn’t worth the effort, then I don’t know what is.

85 thoughts on “A Helping Hand

  1. Good timing on your post Ann. Last week, my wife thought she had Covid, but then remembered she had not been taking her allergy tablets. 2 tablets later, symptoms disappeared and crisis averted. Sneezes, coughs and throat clearing are all alarming in public these days. You are so right on kindness and reaching out. There is so much fear, anxiety and depression these days, it is tough to keep a good outlook. One simple gesture can mean a lot to a person. Thanks for sharing. Allan

    Liked by 2 people

    • I know! That’s the problem with allergies, the symptoms (except for fever) are very similar. I had that problem last Spring, and now that ragweed and mold are high, I have it again. I just have to be very sure I take my allergy medicine too! And yes, the more we help each other, the better. These are tough times but supporting each other makes them so much easier to bear.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Keeping positive takes effort but it’s worth it. Knowing there are others who can share their experiences so you know you’re not alone is helpful.
    Thanks for your post and the reminder that while other people may have it worse, what I’m going through is important too and to take care of myself – even if I have to be creative. When I help ‘me’, I’m renewed and I’m better able to help others.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Exactly! If we don’t care for ourselves, or think that we deserve self-care just because others are worse off, then we don’t have what it takes to help others at all. I think it’s a balancing act: meeting our own needs and reaching out to others who need a helping hand. And bonus, when we help others, it often makes us feel better as well….so it’s really a “win/win” situation!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s lovely that you have a daughter and neighbors (and no doubt other family) who clearly know how to reach out and be helpful without being saccharine or smothering you. Some of my friends and I were laughing about the onset of our fall allergy season. The wind switched into the north last week, and it’s clear the ragweed is ready to send its pollen our way. Still, when a woman sneezed in the grocery store yesterday, three people said in unison, “Bless you!” That’s reaching out with kindness, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That absolutely is! Anything we can do to help someone (and even saying “bless you” lets them know that you aren’t upset that they sneezed….which is good, because sometimes sneezing or coughing in public just earns you dirty looks!) With ragweed on the rise, and in our area, mold as well, I have to make sure I take my allergy medicine every day. But I just keep reminding myself that “this, too, shall pass….”

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  4. I’m sorry to hear about your husband’s cancer; that ‘s a hard battle under usual circumstances. Sending you both a distance healing hug.
    And yes, I agree it’s frustrating that the first thought at a symptom is :”COVID?!” Remember when all we had to worry about were tick and mosquito bites? The risk is still there–we just don’t think about it as often. There’s some kind of lesson, but I’ll be doggoned if I can figure it out.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your good wishes! And yeah, I remember when Lyme’s Diseases and West Nile were our worries…now we don’t give them much of a thought! I guess when something worse comes along, we just shift our attention.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so very much! Your comments are always kind and encouraging, and I hope you know how much that is appreciated. My husband is about halfway through his treatments, and they are going very well so far. That cheers us both up, enormously!

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  5. Kindness and compassion is a huge antidote for the ails in society today, wherever we are. A kind word, smiling eyes, a phone call and walks in nature, they’re all things that can pick us up. And it’s good to have a vent too. This time will pass, I have absolutely no doubt. And a better world awaits. Take care Ann. xx

    Liked by 1 person

  6. We are humans and having both positive and negative thoughts are just so natural. I think it’s perfectly OK to feel insecure and we all do from time to time.
    Sending good wishes to you Ann and a warm hug.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I share your feeling about just how wearing it now is trying to do what used to be simple things. We’ve all just had enough but we can’t do anything about it, which is so frustrating. But you’re right – the little things that people do for each other can lighten that mood so much. Thanks for the reminder.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I understand from my own experience how much a helping hand in times of need means. When I underwent radiation treatment in Kelowna far away from home, I felt quite lonely in the hotel room where I had to spend six long weeks. The visits from our children and friends cheered me up and the loneliness was replaced by that great feeling of being loved and cared for. I guess that is the message of your post today, Ann.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It is hard not being able to make plans or know when things are going to get back to “normal”, although I suspect they will never be the same as before covid. And now you have more uncertainty with your husband’s health. I hope that is all OK. Hang in there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, even though his prognosis is good and his treatments are going well, it’s hard to have a serious illness that require long-term treatment in the middle of all this uncertainty. I don’t think we’ll ever go back to exactly what we had before, but I do think we’ll eventually live in a world where it is possible to gather in large numbers again, and plan ahead….and travel. And it can’t come soon enough for me!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Even the strongest of people get down sometimes, Ann, especially lately. You’re right, sometimes an encouraging word goes so far! I guess all we can do is our best and try to be there for the ones we love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Absolutely, Alan! Helping others is good for them, and it’s also good for us because it makes us feel a little bit less powerless in the face of all the crazy, reminding us that we do have the ability to do some good in the world. Take care!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, there’s never a good time to get cancer, but I have to say that a world-wide pandemic is one of the bad times! Still, we’re fortunate that he can get good treatment and is responding well to it. So we are grateful for that.

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m right there with you, Ann. Allergies have been especially bad this year, and I find I’m not the only one suffering from stress-related tummy aches and so forth. All of which cause us to wonder, “Could I have COVID and not know it??” Sadly, I think it’s going to be a while before we get a preventative and a cure; and even then, I wonder how many will take a vaccine, fearing it’s all political hooey?!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Reblogged this on Random Thoughts and commented:
    Wise words. I think the Covid19 situation has affected all of is in many different ways but hopefully, like Ann, we’ve learned to appreciate even small acts of kindness.
    Let’s also try to think about ways we can reach out to others too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much, Mike, for both the comment and the reblog! That was very nice, and very much appreciated! I know you’ve been encouraging people to use common sense and kindness as a way of coping with this pandemic on your blog too!

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  13. I wrote someone recently that it is a sad thing to emerge from lockdown to find that not enough of the world has changed for the better. For several months, I struggled with this extreme hurt and disappointment. I was bewildered – how could anyone go through a pandemic and not be affected in some way, especially if we’ve been spared the worst of it thus far? Unfortunately, that’s the way it was/is for many.

    Somewhere along the way, I decided to stop waiting for people to have an epiphany and to change. There is so much need in the world, so much sadness and pain and difficulty – than there are those who can help alleviate this suffering. By waiting for others to change and to begin caring, I was just wasting precious time and energy. There was work to be done and if others won’t care, then I had to go see what I could do and to get it done.

    The beauty of such a turn of our own hearts is that once we begin to busy ourselves caring for others, we notice just how many caring souls there actually are! We learn of the things they do to reach out and help – and often those actions move me so deeply because never in a million years could I have come up with those ideas.

    The world may never think much of the little ways we choose to love someone who needs love. But like that basket filled with sweetness and the generous hearts that put aside everything to listen to you, such gifts go a long way to get us from moment to moment, one difficult day at a time.

    May God bless each soul who looks out for you, Ann, just the way you have cared for so many others too.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much! I thought the same thing: that we might learn some lessons in all this that would help us when it was over. But like you, I was disappointed to see how many people just carried on as usual, still attacking anyone who thought differently and mainly looking for someone to blame. Like you said, the trick is to quit waiting for others to “get it” and to simply try to do our best to help others ourselves. And as I found out when I needed help, there are plenty of kind souls out there who are willing to reach out and offer assistance and support. They’re just not the ones who get most of the attention. But that’s okay, because what they do is still making an enormous difference, and it helps so much to know they are there. Thanks for being one of those people!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It would be easy to stuff your feelings and pretend everything is fine on days you aren’t feeling fine. Thank you for your honesty and letting your readers know we are normal! Accepting the gifts and help from family and friends is the best medicine. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lorie! I think we all have our bad days, and bad moments, and the best thing is just to acknowledge them and then move on. It is what makes us normal and human! And it helps so much to know that when the bad times threaten to get overwhelming, there are plenty of people in the world who are willing to help.

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  15. Great minds must think alike! Haha-but I do agree as usual, with your thoughts. I can barely imagine walking in a grocery, touching a cart and then just putting things away!! Just casual visits without great plans . . .And you really have a difficult situation with your mom. I am so sorry-and send best wishes for more brighter days.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Michele! I’ll go with the “great minds think alike” saying….LOL! And yes, it will be so wonderful when we can go about our days without all these extra precautions. I know you are struggling with your own challenges right now, so I hope you are taking the time to care for yourself and to let others care for you as well. Sometimes, that’s exactly the right thing to do!

      Liked by 1 person

  16. It is a gift in itself to have family and friends that genuinely care for you and want the best for you. Only thinking about it warms my heart. There are days that I feel that I need to pull myself together just to do the everyday “small” things. And other days that I feel that I am strong and amazed at all the things I can accomplish in a day. So I guess this feeling is normal, especially now when we are overwhelmed with information, the fear of COVID, and uncertainty. All the best to you and your family.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think it is absolutely normal to alternate between days when we’re barely strong enough to get through our daily routines, and days when we really feel, “I’ve got this!” The more I hear from others, the more I realize that is what almost all of us are doing these days. But this won’t last forever, thankfully. Wishing you and yours the best too, Svet!

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  17. Sometimes, it is the very people who are always trying to be strong, that need to accept a helping hand. No one can be strong all the time. That is why self-care is so important in these very trying times. We all have our bad days and our days when we feel on top of things. You are right…kind gestures seem to keep us all going. Even the smallest of things can bring so much joy. Praying for you and your husband…May all the kindness you give away come back to you one hundred times over.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much Linda! Comments like yours are a gift, and I hope you know how much they are appreciated. One of the lessons this pandemic has taught me is that I can’t expect to be strong every day, and that it is perfectly okay not to be. Others who step in to offer comfort and support get us through the bad days, and show us just exactly what we need to do in order to help others too.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Exactly, Michael! These are trying times for sure, but by supporting each other, we really can create a positive community and goodness knows we need that right now. Take care and give your “girls” a hug for me!

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  18. I think I missed where you mentioned in a post that your husband received a cancer diagnosis. I am very sorry to hear this, Ann. I prayed for him now and will do so again. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, I relate to what you share, then I am encouraged to be kind, compassionate, and thankful. To refocus from myself onto others, even in social distanced (or over long distance) ways. Thank you! Stay safe & stay well, Ann!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Somehow I missed your husband’s diagnosis. So sorry to hear it but it seems you have family and friends to be there for you. That diagnosis is hard to take in normal times. COVID just presents one more obstacle. You have a right to feel down at times but that’s ok. You will find the strength for those you love! Remember to take care of yourself too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! It does seem overwhelming at times, but he is doing very well in his treatment and that helps enormously. And I’m learning the importance of self-care, so that I can give him the support he needs as he fights cancer. Kind words from friends, blogging and otherwise, help so much! Thanks for that.

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