Picture it…over half a century ago, a beautiful island in the Caribbean, children playing in an atmosphere of safety, where sugar cane was their candy and luscious tropical fruit, grabbed from a nearby tree, were their snacks. The small town had no jail and no hospital and there were no locks on the doors. This idyllic situation was viewed through a child’s eyes–mine. My days were full of happy, playful times with my brother, as well as many cousins and children who lived nearby. Yet, others may have perceived all this as less than idyllic. My mother had contracted tuberculosis and had gone to a sanitarium in New York, had later been divorced from my father, and had left my brother and me with my grandfather and step-grandmother until she could get her life together. So why was I so happy? I attribute this happiness to the unconditional love I received from my step-grandmother and the sense of security that my grandfather provided.
I believe anyone who really knew my step-grandmother would call her a saint. She took care of my brother and me, and through the years other children in the family as well, as though we were her own. She exhibited so much patience and a sweetness of spirit that just being around her made me feel completely loved, completely whole. What she brought to my life was a solid foundation of love upon which I could stand through many difficult times. Learning the essence of motherhood is another gift she gave that still remains with me. To feel her nurturing love in my heart that I can then extend to my own children makes me aware of the eternal chain created by Giceiving.
My grandfather was a businessman and plantation owner and was considered to be a wealthy man. He definitely was not a saint; yet, he gave me another firm foundation upon which to build my life. He instilled in me a sense of always being provided for. Although I did not know nor would I have understood at that age his view of money, I internalized the concept that when we give, we are taken care of. I remember his generosity not only with his family but our poorer neighbors. I recognized even then that it was unselfish giving–a giving from the heart–and that somehow God would take note of it. This awareness was transmitted to me without my grandfather ever uttering a word. He was not a religious or spiritual man, but by example he taught me the Giceiving principle that has given me a sense of abundance all through my life. By following his example of generosity, when difficult financial times have come, I find that place deep within me that assures me everything is going to be all right…and it has been!
Many blessings and gratitude go out to two of my greatest teachers in life!
My stepdad, who lit my mother’s world with love like she had never known, lay dying. I went to Florida to be by his side and help my mom with all that needed to be done and offer whatever strength and love I could. As we sat by his bedside at home, day after day, I was grateful to hold his hand even though he wasn’t conscious. I felt a part of him knew I was there. I was guided to sing to him. Gentle songs flowed through that connected our hearts to one another. In these times heaven seemed so near. The quiet brought an awareness of the sacredness of the moment and though I went to help him and my mom, the gifts I received during this precious time were without measure. I could sense a new world ushering him in. It felt peaceful, beautiful. I was honored to be present as he crossed this threshold to his new life. Strangely enough, even though he was dying, life felt expanded. Something in my heart told me there is more to life that what we can see. I felt a profound love permeate the room. I hadn’t gotten to be present when my own father died. He died alone in a hospital room in the middle of the night. Getting this chance to be with my stepdad was such a gift. It was a privilege to be there for him in his final hours and he in turn was there for me, opening my heart to a whole new world. Thank you, Herb , for this most precious gift. In those miraculous two weeks I got to see on such a deep level that giving truly is receiving.