Certainly, some people need to be needed more than others, and, well, let’s face it, there are those who are just always needy. I’ve started asking for help, and it feels great! Whether it’s our friend Roy showing up on Friday with a truck, two friends, and a small crane to lift my broken five thousand pound (only a slight exaggeration) German woodstove off my yard and into their truck and take it to the transfer station for me; or, our friend Ken coming over last night to help me to load Geoff’s mono ski and ski bag into his car; or the neighbors, young and old alike, who stop by to say hello and offer help with the kids knowing Geoff is away for two weeks. At 43, I’ve learned not to say no to help when I clearly need it.
Granted, I’m tired of my children needing me to break up their arguments or reminding them to brush their teeth, feed the turtle, throw their dirty clothes in the hamper, put their clean clothes in their bureaus. etc. I may be tired of Geoff asking me to help find crap in our too tiny condo or complete an expense report as I’ve shown him 1700 times how google docs works. However, sometimes it feels really good to be needed by someone other than those you live with, which is why, perhaps, this time of year especially has people digging in with both hands for food drives, toy drives, and service endeavors. Being needed by someone is a muscle that requires exercise or it weakens, atrophies, and maybe even is lost forever.
So, this need to be helpful must be nourished by allowing others to sometimes answer our own needy call. Sometimes we are what someone else needs, and we don’t even know it. Just today after school, one of my favorite custodians, Bill, who has been here for years and also makes a mean salsa from peppers and tomatoes he grows in his garden, thanked me for a note I had on my chalkboard. I had no idea what he was talking about until he said, “That day you were absent from school, you left the kids a note on your board that reminded them to be the best versions of themselves for the substitute. I add that to my morning prayers now each day- to be the best version of myself today.”
Little does Bill know that I beg that of my son every morning before school; however, we have come a long way from him screaming “Shit” on the playground last year. My son. Not Bill. I needed a ski rack for my car, and my friends Matt and Michelle shared with me their old one, and my other favorite custodian, Mark, helped me, on his own time, to get it back up on my car with locks that work, as if he didn’t have enough other projects to keep him busy. Most people like to be needed.
So, in the above photo, the former “shit screamer”, our beloved almost 8 year old, is scaling a pole in the Loon Mountain ticket office while a dozen other kids are enraptured by Geoff’s clinic demonstrating “How the STAIR LIFT OPERATES.” Greta is no where to be found and probably ordering herself a Shirley Temple up at the bar. But this one little boy, the one with the orange sleeves and hands on his hips, he loves to be needed. For at least three years now, he asks Geoff if he needs help getting in his mono ski. His name is Muzzy, and he even escorted Geoff up the ramp into the Competition Center. Like, literally, “Geoff, over here; here is the ramp, Geoff, GEOFF!” Orange sleeved arms waving in the dark, a sweet beacon of hope and help. Thank you, Muzzy! The little red head in the foreground is Jesse, the mountain minister’s son and also a first grader in Greta’s class. He told our daughter that he would “let her meet his friends” on the race team. He needed her to need him too. Whether she does or not remains to be seen, but the gesture was thoughtful, kind and pure.
My friend JJ really wanted me to have a birthday party last week, and she pulled through big time with an awesome, small crew of ladies, delicious food and beverages, a surprise guest or two even though I don’t like surprises, and a yummy cake from local Make-a-Cake Bakery and Jen Franz. Side bar: check her out! JJ met a need I didn’t even realize– an evening of friendship with funny women and we each loved every minute.
Speaking of celebrating, last week, my friend Claire finished her treatment for breast cancer after a long almost year of chemotherapy, surgery, and radiation treatment. I brought dinner, but let’s use the term “dinner” loosely; it included pre- made pizza from the local Price Chopper and some bagged Caesar salad. We jazzed up the store pizza with additional grated cheese, hugged, and reflected on the craziness of the last year– how they appreciated so much what friends and family had done for them, and how they would never be able to repay that gratitude. One never has to repay those needs; instead, we let other people, like me, be needed once in a while beyond our own family– bagged salad, pizza to go, and friendship. It’s the only way we can build those muscles needed to keep humanity and hope afloat.