Saturday, January 18, 2014

Pay it Forward, Revisited

Lee Ballantyne, a recent widower, noticed a young couple at the restaurant he was dining in. Their future looked promising. For a moment, he saw himself and his wife. Rather than dwell on his new journey in life without his wife, he decided to celebrate their memories by paying it forward. Ballantyne sent an “anonymous” note to the couple asking if he could pay for their meal, and he gave them a directive, “Pay it forward.”                                                      

Paying it forward is all about being thankful—thankful for what you had, thankful for what you have, and thankful for what you can do for others. And it makes you feel good like it made Ballantyne feel good: "It will put a smile on Carol's face and make me happy."

Although death is a natural progression in life, it takes some getting used to each time it occurs. I am reminded of my mother’s death at age 77, which is not that old. But I have a new perspective, and it has lessened my grief. I reconsidered the age 77.

Mama used to tell my siblings and me how sickly she was when she was a baby. She told us often about a particular day when she was a feverish and lethargic baby. My grandmother called the doctor--doctors made house calls back then. When the doctor examined Mama, he concluded that she would not survive the night.  In trepidation, my grandparents waited for Mama to take her last breath. They waited . . ., they waited . . ., and they waited. Gradually, morning tiptoed in and shoved the night away, and mama continued to breathe. In fact, Mama continued to breathe for another 77 years. When she used to tell us about that day, it was never with a gloomy look but rather with a gracious smile.

I now wear that smile. I wear it when I think about 77—the number of years she lived after she was born. During those 77 years, Mama’s life was full. She graduated from high school; attended college; owned a restaurant—Gene’s Place; married my father; and became a mother, a grandmother, and a great-grandmother. Each year Mama lived was a miracle--77 years of miracles. 

Lee Ballantyne, Carol had 62 years of miracles. And you honored that as you paid it forward to that promising young couple.

What miracles are you thankful for? This is the story in you. Share it.


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