Saturday, December 25, 2010

A Letter to Claire

Tis the Season, and I am Humbled

I wish I was dedicated enough to able to say this is a daily occurrence, year round, for me. I’m not that thoughtful though. For me, it starts right around Thanksgiving. Thinking of all we have and being thankful for the many blessings that my family has. We are blessed with health, just enough money to get by, and an abundance of love. From Thanksgiving until Christmas I try to do a random act of kindness on a daily basis.

But, this is not about praise or boastfulness on my part. I don’t do the things I do for recognition, it’s a purely selfish reason….It feels good …and I love that!

The following are words written in a Christmas card to me, from one of my mother’s cousin.

Claire wrote;

Jan, I’m not sure where I was at emotionally when your mom died- I just know I didn’t acknowledge it with a card/letter , and I’m sorry for that . I’m enclosing a check in her memory- hopefully it’s not too late for you to put it towards something Karen liked to do for others at Christmas. Or maybe you can find some other use for it that she would like to honor…..So I was trying to think what I should do. This will be our 4th Christmas with out Mom.

Mostly, in lieu of flowers people gave to PanCan, for Pancreatic related issues. Our first Christmas with out her was difficult to say the least. My daughters and I decided we would do “Karen’s Wish” every year in her honor. Because she loved Christmas and was such a giving person, we would find a family in need and try to make their Christmas a little brighter, anonymously. Year one and two were fabulous! We had other family members pitching in to help with money, and we were able to help several families! Last year, with the economy the way it was, we weren't’ able to give as we had previously. This year, things are still tight and I have been doing small things on my own, but this is not about me.

This is my letter to Claire:


Thank you so very much for the Christmas card and the generous donation. Did you know that there were well over 200 people that attended Mom’s funeral? She had so many cards, and donations to her cause, it was mind boggling.

I was very surprised and thankful for your cards arrival. I have been contemplating what to do with the money. I decided I would cash it, and let fate take over from there.

Monday, December 20, 2010.

On the way home from work, Jerry and I stopped at our bank to deposit our company bonus check. We had a bill we were anxious to pay off, so we went to another bank to do just that. We walked out feeling great to be free of that monthly bill. As we ran to the car in the pouring rain, and were seated ready to make our way home, I noticed a lady speaking to me. She was nicely dressed and standing under the overhang of a store front business trying to keep dry. I got back out of the car so I could hear what she was saying. She was asking if I had any spare change she could have.

Random act # 1….I quickly went back to the car and returned with a twenty dollar bill. Claire, I wish you could have seen the look on her face when she saw it was 20 dollars! Jerry and I had a little discussion on her appearance, and need.. My thoughts are yes, she could have an addiction…. or maybe, just maybe with times being hard, she really had the need! I can’t imagine having to stand in the rain to ask for help or the hurt of a parent not being able to have at least something to show that indeed Santa didn't forget them.

There is a lady that is always sitting at the bus stop on our main street corner. She is a woman of color. Her favorite color is purple. Her hair has been kissed by the sun she sits in daily. I’m sure her hair was once a deep black, and has faded to a rusty brown, just as her purple shirt has faded to dingy lavender. I call her Miss Rusty for lack of knowing her birth name. I have been in the market at the same time as she. She is not a very friendly person, and frequently shouts out at no one in particular. I was very excited to take her gift to her. I went and bought her this

I’m hoping she will not be offended and love her new long sleeve purple shirt and reversible vest, especially when she discovers a crisp twenty dollar bill in the pocket.

Friday, December 24, 2010.

I drove to the bus stop looking for Miss Rusty. She was not there. I drove 5 miles up our main street checking all the bus stops looking for her. To no avail, but as I was looking I saw a make shift camp just off the main street in some bushes. Could it be her? She is always at the bus stop, but with all the rain we have been having maybe she found a way to shelter herself.

Random act # 2....As I pulled up I saw a man in the middle of this camp. He had a friendly smile as I approached him. I had twenty dollars in my hand and asked him if I could buy him a warm meal with this money. He wanted to know if I was from the police department…..a church… was I going to turn him in? As he held out his hand to accept the money, he asked God to bless me! His name is John, John Toughey, please God, bless him! I asked him if I could take a picture with him. He worried that he wasn't presentable…his hair wasn't combed. I offered him my brush from my purse, and said he should keep it.

We took that picture, and as I showed him the screen as proof, his reply was…That is YOU, but that is not ME. I wonder when he last saw himself? I asked if he knew Miss Rusty and he said he knew she wasn't very friendly and she sometimes gets vouchers for a motel room. Perhaps that is where she is. I thanked him and wished him Merry Christmas, then drove away.

December 25, 2010-12-25

Today I drove around looking for Miss Rusty again. She was not to be found. I worry about her. We have had some nasty weather by our standards and my new friend John told me she will not go to the shelters. As I was looking for her I remembered that there is a young man I see frequently. He appears to be 25 or so and is usually near our city park. Most days he is barefoot and not dressed for the weather. Sometimes he is in shorts with a blanket over his shoulders in place of a coat.

Random act #3....Today I found him sitting on the corner at the park. He was partially hidden by the vegetation. I parked and he watched me approach with cautious eyes. I held out a twenty dollar bill and asked him if he would like to go get some food. He spoke not a word, only shook his head in acceptance. As I was driving away I could see the very beginning of a smile, evident from the rosy cheeks that rose to his eyes. His smile was ever so familiar. Behind the hard life he is wearing, his smile looks very much like that of the rosy cheeked Saint Nick. Please bless him too

I will keep Miss Rusty’s bag in the car to give to her as soon as I see her again.

Claire, thank you for joining me and (I‘m sure) my Mom on this years “Karen’s Wish”! What an awesome week this has been. Merry Christmas

Thank you, thank you!

Love Jan


The Picketts said...

I am in tears. What a remarkable experience to say the least. Thank you for sharing this and reminding me to be a little better...more giving...
Please let us know if you find Miss Rusty.

Merry Christmas!

The Gustafson Family said...

So awesome!! I could just see you driving around and around. Those people are sure blessed by your kindness, but mostly importantly the gift of thoughtfulness that your mom instilled in you. She sure didn't go anywhere as she is alive in you! Merry Christmas! I am axiously awaiting to hear how Miss Rusty responds!

Amy said...

This story had me in tears as well. This is the most wonderful and giving story I have heard this season. And I love that your gift didn't just help one family with gifts - but with people that were truly in need. This is so wonderful, thank you for sharing :).

Kipn n' Sarah said...

Jan you are one of the most kind hearted and amazing women I have ever had the honor of knowing!

Kelly said...

These stories were awesome. You are such a light to those you helped. Really inspiring to me too. I hope you find Miss Rusty.

Lopez Life said...

When I first read this post, a quote popped into my head. I can't remember it exactly so I googled it, with no luck. It was something about "something is being nice to someone you have no reason to be nice to." Anyway, I did find an article by Thomas S. Monson that went perfectly with this post, the quote is part of the header...

"Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life."

You are a perfect example of that quote! :) I can't wait to hear about Miss Rusty!

Kayla said...

This is so touching. Thank you so much for sharing. It reminded me that we all have so much and some people have so little. That is so neat you were able to help more then one person.
Please update about Miss Rusty.

The Hamilton Family said...

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story with us. As I am reading my eyes have tears in them. I hope you find Miss Rusty. I have seen her many times at the bus stop and in Stater Bros. and I am glad that I can put a "name" with her.

Sandie said...

Believe it or not, reading this today- Jan 2, I finally felt that Christmas Spirit. I wish I would have read this sooner. I love yoiu and thank you for being who you are!!!