by Anniel 1/31/15
Many sermons have been given on the subject of doing what is good, what is better, and what is best in any given situation. For instance, many preachers will tell you that you should give to a charity as a good option, support the poor through their church as a better option, or as the best option, let the Government be involved through your taxes. That’s only one scenario. Another might be to read a Harlequin Romance as good, a classic novel as better, or the Bible as best.
I would like to suggest that the idea of Good/Better/Best may be much more fluid than we think. The following is a true story, which took place at a Ronald McDonald House (RMC) in Chicago not that many years ago.
Aneel, the husband, and his wife, Diptee, are Hindus from India, although they now are residents of the US, living and working in Chicago. Aneel’s mother and aunt had come to Chicago for the birth of Aneel and Diptee’s first child, a boy.
The child was born with a heart defect, and we, along with the other guests in the home, assumed he was another child who needed some sort of heart surgery and would be fine. Neither parent nor the older mother and aunt were ever anything but sweet, smiling and kind, bowing slightly when greeting and interacting with the rest of us. They spent every day at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and returned to the RMC at night.
Mardelle, the Manager of the RMC kept many picture puzzles for people to use, and set up a Puzzle corner with table and chairs for parents, and sometimes recuperating children to use. What a blessing to get our minds off our problems as we sat around the table and thought about the simple act of finding puzzle pieces while we put our souls at rest. To talk to others in the same boat and laugh and cry together.
Late one evening after our daughter had undergone several surgeries, I had returned to the RMC, tired but too strung out to sleep and was sitting alone at the Puzzle Table. One of the more aggressive Arab women came to the table and told me I was being stupid wasting my time in such an idiotic pastime, and in Kuwait they had better things to do with their time. Then she stomped in a huff out of the room. All I could do was laugh and cry at the same time.
I continued half-heartedly separating puzzle pieces when I felt someone else standing near me. I looked up to see Aneel bowing and smiling at me, while Diptee and the grandmother and aunt were bowing from the doorway. “Excuse me,” Aneel said pointing at the puzzle, “why you do this?”
Startled, and feeling like I needed to justify myself, I began to tell him that it was a way to relax and take my mind off my problems.
“Oh, no,” he said, “maybe I say this wrong way. I should say, HOW you do this?”
“Do you mean how do you put a puzzle together? Don’t you do this in India?”
“No,” he said, “None of us ever see this before.”
All of them were watching me closely while they smiled and gave me their little half bows. “I’ll tell you what, it’s late now,” I said, “but tomorrow when you return to the House, I’ll be happy to show you how.”
After many bows, smiles and “Thank yous” we all headed off to bed.
The next morning I met Aneel in the hall, and as we smiled and greeted each other, for the first time I thought to ask him how his son was. “Oh,” he said, “is very sad. He will die.” He looked at my stunned face and put his arms around me, and said not to be sad and he would see me that night.
When I got to my daughter’s hospital room, her doctor released her from care and we hurried to catch a flight home that afternoon.
I called my sweet friend, Karen, told her about Aneel and Diptee’s baby, and she was as shocked as I was. I asked her to apologize for me and take over the puzzle teaching. Of course she did so.
Karen was the one who sat with this wonderful family night after night to care for their needs and teach them how to do picture puzzles. They grew very close and then asked her to stand with them when the time came to remove their little boy’s life support, and she was the one to make funeral arrangements for him. When the time came for them to return to India for the traditional 6 week Hindu mourning period, Karen took them to the airport and presented them with a brand new puzzle for their comfort during that mourning time.
I personally cannot think of anything Better than what Karen was privileged to do for these lovely people. The Best was beautiful.
None of us ever can know what someone else’s needs are unless our hearts and minds are open. Their need may be as simple as a picture puzzle. • (951 views)