Maybe it’s a generational thing. It must be because my generation, Gen X, is all about reaching out for help. Whether it’s bringing someone a meal, developing ways to raise money for others, or simply starting a campaign to raise awareness to a cause personal to you, outreach has become part of the norm. But as I figured out while encouraging my father-in-law to allow me to create a Give InKind page for my mother-in-law, it’s not innate to us all.
We sat on the couch one morning as I came to bring food to fill their refrigerator so he wouldn’t have to shop for a few days and could just concentrate on visiting his wife of 50 years in the hospital after her surgery. I explained how he was going to need more support over the next few weeks, and because all of us siblings didn’t live near them, I wanted to channel that support for them in a way that would be helpful. Meals, rides, gift cards for coffee…could all be coordinated for them without the worry. He looked at me with those eyes “Really, Lori."
“I’ve been doing all of this for two years with her – caring for her in every way, more than you know and more than you can imagine," he said. As a Baby boomer, his generation was raised on doing it all. They didn’t rely on others, they made it happen. I appreciate this quality, and even wish my own children would have a little more of it in them as well. But I think the difference is, it doesn’t always have to be so hard on one person when others truly want to help.
His eyes weary from the constant stress and his body leaning forward with a great sag assure me, there must be a better way.
I said to him, “I know you are humble and will rarely ask for help – for anything. But know that it’s ok to do so. People love you, and want to show they care – so this just gives them a way to do that helpfully without hindrance."
He shook his head with a crooked smile at me. I said I would talk to mom in the hospital and then build the Give InKind page when she agreed. I’ve always been the pushy daughter-in-law, I don’t take no for an answer easily as he always knew.
A few hours later, while listening to the beeps of the ICU, my mother-in-law put two thumbs up for a photo and we began building their Give InKind page. She was always the one to help anyone who needed anything, and as the recipient now of others kindness, we will get her – and his – needs better in control.
He may still have a hard time accepting it, but I have no doubt that it will help them. In just the first five minutes of me sharing the page, we had a friend sign up to deliver them a meal. I just keep saying – we are all “here" to help.
So if you have parents who are hesitant about asking for help – for whatever their reason, remind them of the many ways to give, not just one. Remind them that people are looking for ways to support them – provide a clear path towards something meaningful and give them clarity that regardless of how you were raised, my generation or yours, kindness matters.
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