It’s Payback Time!

Yep, that’s right–it’s payback time; for me, anyway. Throughout my life I have been extremely fortunate in many ways. Just look at all I’ve been given over my lifetime so far:

  • Wonderful parents: My dad (non-biological) who adopted me at age four and is in all ways my one-and-only dad, and my mom who was and is an amazing teacher and my best friend
  • Wonderful grandparents and aunts and uncles
  • Amazing friends
  • Sweet and loving pets
  • A great childhood
  • Being an American citizen
  • Living in a beautiful state (NH)
  • Travel (Italy, Lisbon, Ireland, and in the states; Arizona, Texas, North and South Carolina, Massachusetts, Maine)
  • Being a Tae-Kwon-Do instructor to some great students (years ago)
  • The best step-daughters, step-granddaughter and step-sons-in-law
  • A first marriage that taught me who I really was
  • A second marriage that was Heaven-sent (the Crankee Yankee)
  • Many jobs doing what I love; technical writing
  • Many hobbies that I love: creative writing, reading, blogging, playing Scrabble (and with the best partner EVER–my mom), jewelry-making, hula dancing, playing the ukulele, cooking
  • Good health (I even got the least dangerous type of cancer!)
  • Becoming a Reiki practitioner (news: I will be taking my Reiki Master course this summer)
  • Taking and learning so much from my metaphysical classes with incredible *teachers
  • The privilege and opportunity to help my parents at this stage of their lives

It is an honor and a gift to me to be able to give some serious payback. Since I live with a kind, generous, and utterly good man (the Crankee Yankee), he has introduced me to his model train club, the Bedford Boomers. Through them, I’ve made some life-long friends, some who have become very dear to me. I would not have met them in any other way, and I am so grateful that they are in my life. Also, because my husband is more out-going than I am, I am encouraged to reach out to our neighbors in ways I wouldn’t have dreamed of before.

I was always a ‘mind your own business,’ ‘keep to yourself’ kind of person. I lived alone for many years before my first marriage, and really enjoyed it. But I wasn’t ever what you’d call a ‘people person.’ Oh sure, it was easy for me to donate to causes–money being as impartial as it is. You don’t have to look someone in the eye; you just send a check. Many times I did it anonymously–I didn’t want anyone to feel grateful to me. Animal shelters were my best “gives,” too–I donated gently worn towels and blankets, and brought cans and bags of food.

But the Crankee Yankee has been a good influence on me. Through him, I’ve gotten to know some pretty terrific people: Stephanie, one our neighbors and also one of the best gardeners I’ve ever known. She routinely gives us her extra tomato, onion, and squash plants and is a fabulous source of information on gardening. I’ve given her some of my handmade earrings and made her two beautiful little girls necklaces, but they seem pretty paltry compared to all the kindness and generosity she has shown us.

Then there is Alex, a lovely Dominican man with a family and grandkids who adore him. He also gardens and hardly a week goes by without him giving us some of his wonderful produce: lettuce, peppers, tomatoes, cilantro, and summer squash. It was through him that we learned that an elderly couple in our neighborhood, John and Dottie, both in their 90s; needed a little help. Alex kindly walks their little dog, Joey, each day, and when Dottie was in the hospital with a cracked vertebra, he brought meals over as well. I asked him if he thought John needed any more meals and he said, ‘sure–he’ll eat anything.’

So, heart in my mouth, I took over a container of our homemade spaghetti sauce over spaghetti, and a few slices of my chocolate-ship zucchini bread. (Up til now, this just isn’t me; I always feel I am intruding on people; I’m more of a leave-something-on-the-doorstep-and-run person, but it being in the 90s and humid, I couldn’t do that.) John is very deaf, so I actually had to walk into his house to holler to him. He was very gracious, and thanked me for the food. I walked away with tears in my eyes, sorry that I hadn’t helped more and well before this time.

Now that my parents are older and have “outsourced” a lot of things they used to do, such as snowplowing, shoveling, cleaning the outside windows, etc., which makes things a lot easier for them. I feel privileged that I can help, too–I just started coming up every two weeks or so to visit and to do whatever needs doing; ironing, changing the sheets, etc. But best of all, I can cook for them!

This weekend I will bringing over curried zucchini soup, ratatouille over quinoa macaroni and cheese, American chop suey (with enough to feed the Crankee Yankee, of course–this is one of his favorites) and tabbouleh salad. It is a pure pleasure to me to do this for my parents. Mom is having some mobility issues now, and Dad has been doing a lot of the cooking and cleaning, so this is something I can do for them. I’m grateful for the privilege.

Please don’t think that I’m such a wonderful person, either. I have been given much (especially from my parents), and if I live another 50 years and do something good each day, it would never be enough to pay back all that I have received. I hope that by the end of my life I will have made a good dent in paying back all I have been lucky enough to receive.

In my case, payback is not a bitch; it’s a blessing.

*Noreen McDonald and Marilynn Carter

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