The concept of paying it forward is not a new one. It’s likely been around in one form or another much longer than the movie…but it’s one worth contemplating now and then, and one that I recently saw in action and it stuck with me. My Mom was paying it forward.
I love my Mom – dearly. I have so many wonderful memories, so many good times at her side. So much of who I am today (good and bad) comes from her. Over the years I’ve seen myself reflected in her actions, sense of humor, and quirky personality traits time and time again. She raised me to be honest and kind, firm and true to myself. My Mom is tough. She tells it like it is. She loves NASCAR and NHR and shooting her guns at snakes. And yet, she is a marvel in the kitchen and prepares wonderful meals for Dad and us routinely. I’ve counted myself blessed in many ways for having her as a mother, and recently she gave me another example.
Since moving out of state, she’s been the primary lawn mower in the family. Their current place in Oklahoma sits on roughly 10 acres of land, with a pond, timber, and pasture that she has to mow around and maintain. It is an all-day affair for her to mow and I expect she loves it as much as I love mowing my little plot of land…which is not at all. So it intrigued me when she mentioned in passing that she was mowing for a neighbor of hers too. As it turns out, one of their neighbor’s husband fell sick last winter, suffering a heart attack and subsequent stroke. He spent several months in the hospital and rehab facilities, before finally succumbing to his injuries and he passed away last week. My parents had only met this neighbor officially once or twice. They barely knew each other.
My Mom is not an overly outgoing person. She doesn’t make fast friends. She, like myself, is uncomfortable in large groups. And yet…she knew how people, some of them virtual strangers, had stepped up to help us out with various things, after Matt’s stroke. She knew how that impacted me – her daughter and so she reached out to this neighbor. She stepped outside her own comfort zone and insisted that she would mow their lawn for them as well. And just like that she paid it forward. Hearing her talk about it to me, she got a little choked up…and that’s something she rarely does. But she said she just kept thinking about all the wonderful things, big and small, that people did for us in our time of need and how much they touched us. She wanted to give back in whatever way she could. I have no doubt that the neighbor is exceedingly grateful that she didn’t have to worry about her yard while her husband was so sick. I imagine her pulling up her driveway after a long day visiting her sick husband and feeling relief that she had one less thing to deal with. And I imagine she was humbled and touched by my Mom’s act of kindness.
It struck me, for a moment, how my life…my situation has touched others. It made me remember again some of the big and small favors people did for us that will always move me. I have always felt unworthy of the help, and it was often hard to accept it…but it was a beautiful example of human beings being kind to one another…helping one another…loving one another as we were instructed to do so by the One who loves us most. And I was deeply touched that my Mom was moved by our story, and so many of your loving actions, to take action herself and help out a family she barely knows. It made me grateful again for all the love and amazing blessings we’ve known throughout our difficult times…and it made me think that we should all be looking for ways we can step out of our own comfort zones and pay it forward now and then.