The first time I remember truly helping someone… it was blind twins. I was in the 3rd grade at Western Elementary in Kokomo, Indiana. The year would have been around…1968. There was a classroom across the hall from mine. It had the “special” kids. In that classroom were two girls, identical twins. I remember they were much taller than me…I think someone said they were 14 years old at the time, but I am not certain. I will have to ask my mom.
The twins could not go outside at recess unless someone held their hand and walked with them. I offered to do it and I remember we walked around a paved area near the playground, holding a hand and walking slowly beside each of them.
This memory tells me something about myself I guess I have not recognized until this moment. It’s in my nature to help people. I received no reward for helping those girls other than a sense of pride that I made a difference to someone who needed assistance. That feeling is addictive and as I grew older, the desire to make a difference grew with me.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Having an innate desire to be helpful does not mean a person is perfect. I made tons of mistakes in my life. When I was 9 years old, we moved into Kokomo and lived near Highland Park. There was a deaf man who lived around the corner from my house. I remember me and my friends deliberately riding our bicycles near his parked car, swerving like we were going to hit it and laughing. The man came out of the house after a few minutes of this and grabbed my bicycle handlebars. Scared me so badly, I peed my pants. I ran home, crying to tell my mom what happened. But, during that same year, I ran across the road and grabbed a kitten that was going to be hit by a car… so go figure.
I’ve done a lot in my adult years to help others. I have to admit, when I did those things I did not think about my years as a child or even as a teenager, when I befriended two different elderly ladies and spent time with them, just helping around their respective homes. I bought blankets for the homeless when we had an unusual Florida cold snap. I volunteered with a group called “Adopt a Family for Christmas” in the 1990s, and as a result, was handed $3,000 cash and told to go shopping at Toys R Us. I took family members with me and filled 10 carts with balls and dolls and games and Barbie dolls and action figures, coloring books, art sets…anything you could wrap and give a child for Christmas.
The list of volunteerism and genuinely good intentions toward others runs deep and long in my life. I used my job as a newspaper reporter to get important stories out into the public eye and as a result, have letters of appreciation from members of the public who were grateful. Never once did I do it for any reason other than what drove me in my soul.
Now, today, I am at the end of a long three years of helping one of my children who tried to help someone and ended up addicted to drugs themselves. It was three long years of disappointments, lies, stealing, hiding, selfish behavior that destroyed a family. It nearly destroyed me. I was resentful because the behaviors I was seeing were the same behaviors that I made deliberate decisions in my own life NOT to be involved with. I didn’t use drugs, didn’t drink, don’t smoke, and I work very hard to be unselfish, honest, faithful, truthful, loving and kind. Truly. And as a result of my efforts, I am still shell-shocked by all that happened. I am certain I would benefit from therapy.
I know that I made every decision that brought me to where I am today. I made those decisions in good faith, believing I was doing what I had to do. It was not easy. I cried. I prayed. I tried to back out at times…but there was no one else to do what had to be done. I’m not being a martyr. There are witnesses and what I tell you is true. My child is over the addiction, but the chaos he learned still rules his life. He still needs help. He is not back on his feet. He is struggling and trying, but from what I can tell, the behaviors he learned during his addiction have not left him.The drugs are gone, but the disorganization, lying, smoke and mirrors…all still there. I know he has to figure a lot of this out, but I also know he could use a little help starting over.
Sooooo…… Ellen Degeneres helps people on her show. She gives them cars and cash… and I wrote to her show two weeks ago and told her my story. I was only allowed 1,500 characters, so it was difficult to get it all in, but I think I did it. Now my concern is that Ellen or her people will read what I wrote and say, “This lady has gonads the size of watermelons if she thinks she can write about herself and get help…” But the truth is, I’ve got a 10 year old daughter and we are sleeping in the same bed every night, sharing a room in a house that is not ours. The friend we are staying with is amazing. He opened his house and his life to us. Since we’ve arrived here, he and his son have helped us bury three of our pets that died unexpectedly. We’ve worked out routines for cooking and cleaning, sharing space but still having privacy, some time together and time apart…everyone here is being unselfish and cooperative. I am so grateful, I don’t have the words to express how grateful we are.
But Ellen…if you are out there listening…we need help to jump start our own lives again. I am not rich. I have never been rich. I raised four kids in my marriage and gave up my career as a police dispatcher to be home with them. Now I am homeschooling the most awesome 10 year old because even with her straight A grades…she isn’t bonding with this new school very well. We had to move 45 minutes from our hometown…she left her best friend behind. She has learned not to ask to go to movies or out to eat or…anywhere because we don’t have a car. We don’t have first, last and security deposits to move into a new home. And I don’t have a job. I’m a photographer and used to have my own business…I want to do that again…open a studio and mentor troubled kids. I need that freedom to raise my amazing daughter…and maybe even use some of the money to help my recovering son get a better start to his new life. I want to go back to college and get my degree in psychology in order to combine my talents and interests to help lost children and teenagers, find themselves.
Here is my disclaimer: In no way do I intend to imply that my needs outweigh the needs of any other deserving person. I know my situation is better than many people. If you don’t choose to help me, then I know someone else needed help more. God will lead me down the path He intends for me. I’m fairly sure I know what that path is. I’m just wishing I could be more productive now. And that means having a vehicle and funds to make it happen.
So…Ellen….? Where are you?
Good things happen when you call. That’s what she said.