Today is Capt Snuggles 1/2 birthday. Go, Baby!
Which means we’ve been incarcerated for 3 months now. 3 looooong months. 12 weeks since his transplant. 6 months since he arrived at this very hospital. Half way to the big 1. 1/2 of his life has been spent in this hospital. Alright already, I know, enough with the math, you get the idea.
So how have we made it this far? With laughter, tears and a little help from our friends (and family). It’s what families do. Grandma is indispensable, taking care of the boys, running back and forth, doing homework, keeping the little heathens alive. The sister-in-law’s have been taking turns being in charge of the Rain-man of Trains and Hub, well Hub’s been doing his best to make sure the house is still standing for when we finally return home. Even the church ladies have helped out by bringing food over for Hub and the boys.
And then there’s everyone else. Some people we know and some we don’t know very well. They all have one thing in common~ they have offered their help, or have they?
Have you ever uttered the phrase “Is there anything I can do for you?”, “Can I get you anything?”, “Is there anything you need?” I’m sure at some point in your life, with the utmost sincerity, you have made this offer to someone. An obvious attempt at being helpful, much like that sign. (Which is real, btw. Much to my obvious amusement.)
It seems like a natural thing to say when someone is in an unfortunate situation. Hey, I’ll bet, sometimes we even mean it! Because really, has anyone ever taken you up on that offer? I get any number of people asking me this question throughout the course of my day. Quite honestly, I’m not always sure how to respond. Politely, of course, but I’ve never actually accepted help from anyone, have you?
Nurses ask “Can I get you anything?” Maybe. Got any chocolate? chinese takeout? No? okay then, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing you can get me. I know it’s part of your job to ask, but after 3 months, I think can get the soda myself. Thank you anyway.
Doctors ask “Is there anything I can do for you?” Well yeah, fix Capt Snuggles. How hard is that? Okay, I concede our doctors are doing their best to fix him up, we are in one of the best hospitals in the country. So can I ask a doctor to get me a magazine, buy me a new Kindle, order me some chinese takeout? Probably not, and as you all know ~ I don’t read magazines anyway.
Chaplain asks “What can I do for you today?” I don’t know, we’ve already established that God has a weird sense of humor. You’re the padre, do you really have a direct line to the man upstairs? If not, what can you do for me today? Probably not kosher to ask the Chaplain for chinese takeout.
Others will stop into our room and ask these same questions. The reality of it is – what kind of answer do you expect when you offer to help someone? Do you think about possible answers when you ask this question? Other than our relatives and the lovely church ladies who took the initiative to bring the Hub food, no one has actually offered any tangible help.
No, that’s not true. My new friend T, who lives about an hour from the hospital, did offer to take time away from her family, her Hub and 3 kids, to sit with Capt Snuggles. Just so I could get home and see my boys for a few hours. Now that is what offering help is all about. Something specific, something tangible, something obvious.
I posed this question to another new friend of mine over at Etiquette From the Trenches (yes, she’s an etiquette maven, so please listen up) Her response: “I would keep a list of people who offer to help (with sincerity) and then call on them when needed. You can tell them that you appreciate the offer and will call them if there’s ever anything and then actually do it! …But, I’m like you … I never ask. It would be more helpful for them to offer something specific, right? Like to bring you dinner that’s not from the hospital or take your kids to see the new movie …. ”
Get that people? Something specific would be greatly appreciated. I know the doctors and nurses and various other people who actually work at the hospital may not be really offering their tangible help but friends and family and even acquaintances can take note and offer something real.
So, I’ll be keeping a list and checking it twice…you never know when I’ll be calling for my chinese takeout.
Have you helped anyone lately? Tell me about it. Did you see an obvious need and proffer tangible help or a generic catch-all offer? More importantly, did the person accept your offer of help?