When I was a kid growing up, my Mom never talked a lot about anything. The one story I do remember that she shared was her love of her Texas bluebonnets. This was one of her favorite memories of growing up in Texas. My Mom had kind of a rough time growing up in Texas. She has lost both of her parents by the time she was eighteen. Her Dad sadly committed suicide, and then her Mom passed away from cancer a couple of years after that. Occasionally she would talk to my sister and me about growing up in Texas and the Great Depression. In her stories she told, she would always mention that her family didn’t have much, and often people would come to their back door begging for food. And somehow, some way, her family managed to help by giving them whatever they could, even though they too were struggling. Those stories stuck with me my entire life, and I never thought we would be living through something very similar in today’s world. As I mentioned, my Mom had been through a lot of hardships, and even though she didn’t share much of herself with us, she would always sing songs as she worked around our house. One of her favorites being Frank Sinatra’s song, “High Hopes”!
I think for many of us, what use to be so depressing; empty houses with weeds growing in front lawns where children use to play, our favorite big chain stores closing, and the many people, not only living on the street, but that have been forced to ask for food and money on street corners, sidewalks, freeway off ramps, and more has become the norm. It does sadden me when I hear people say they don’t “give” because they can just tell that this person is pulling a scam. Maybe in some cases that is true, but wouldn’t you rather feel that you are putting food in someone’s stomach rather than letting them go hungry? Our country is always helping other countries that are in need. But how do we help our own citizens? People that have worked their entire lives for a pension and retirement, only to be told the company is closing or scaling down and there is no longer jobs for them. It’s a tough call, and if you haven’t been affected by any of this, as one of my good friends in Texas always says, “then bless your little heart”.
My daughter, Katie, was telling me a story about what one of the mom’s at Riley, my granddaughters pre-school, does to make a difference in others lives. She told Katie that she doesn’t hand out money, but instead has big baggies in her car for those in need. The baggies are filled with water, maybe some toothpaste and a toothbrush, some food, and dog food, stuff like that. As we all know, many of the homeless have nothing left but their pets. I was touched when I heard that this Mom puts pet food in these baggies that she makes for the homeless. When this Mom see’s someone in need with a sign asking for help, she has her daughter, who is Riley’s age, hand them the big baggie out the car window. Why? Because our own children, grandchildren are never too young to learn the importance of giving, paying it forward. My kids still talk about the times I would make them either walk up to someone in need, or roll down the car window and hand them a couple of dollars. They remember well how some of these people at the time seemed scary! Today, I still keep singles in my car so I too can make a small difference in someone’s life. And there are times that the rewards for me are ten times greater than my act of giving. To see someone’s face light up, or as I had happen on a freeway off ramp a year or so ago, grab my hand and say, “bless you child”, still touches my very soul. It doesn’t take much to make a difference in our world. A smile, just a simple smile and a dollar or two, can make someone’s whole day and their life just a bit better.
My favorite lyrics in that old song, High Hopes, that my Mom use to sing to us goes like this:
“Next time you’re found, with chin on the ground
There is a lot to be learned
Just what makes that little old ant
Think he’ll move that rubber tree plant
Anyone knows an ant can’t
Move a rubber tree plant
But he’s got high hopes
He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes”.
I hope we can all carry a little of that “hope” in our hearts each and every day. It takes so very little to make a difference in others lives, especially if you have “high hopes”!