Thursday, March 24, 2011

Three Rays of Sunshine

One of my most precious memories of my husband's grandmother Ann is of her explaining why she'd given me a particular Christmas gift one year. After years of having visited her at her home, we learned one day that she was moving to housing for the elderly. At her new place she had the chance to shop at various little functions they would host. It was at one of these events that she bought me a little plaque. On the little 3"x5" block was a sweet little poem about the power of a smile. "You're always smiling", Ann said to me, "I knew this gift was perfect for you". I remember thinking to myself, "Really? Do I smile that often?" Yes. In fact I do, or, at least, I smirk a great deal.

Not to be outdone, my husband's other grandmother, Evy, once presented to me a print with a poem that speaks of smudges on windows and toys strewn on the floor. The poem speaks to putting aside housework in order to take important time to play with one's children. It has been a poem I have made reference to often since receiving the gift. It's a print I look at for reassurance that my choices to neglect cleaning at times, in favor of spending time with my kids, have always been the correct way to go.

These two women may not have realized it, but these two gifts over the years have provided me with poignant reminders of having my priorities in proper order. The children and teenagers in my life have spoken Ann's words to me often over the years. "You're always smiling", they tell me. And I have always taken a proper breather and have joyfully neglected seemingly important chores or tasks at times to watch a movie with them or to sit down and simply talk.

Entering my classroom last Wednesday, I spotted a pot of tulips gracing my teacher desk. I think I even may have gasped. The flowers were beautiful and instantaneously, my work area was transformed. The amazing gift was from a new friend of mine, an incredibly sweet and dynamic young woman who is now teaching part time across the hall from me. We have gotten together only a few times in person to share lunch, but we've connected through various discussions, a few happening during teacher workshops and many occurring online. She and I have discovered we have much in common and although our friendship has just begun, there is a comforting level of trust and mutual respect between us. In the note she included with the flowers she referred to me as "a ray of sunshine". That's funny. That's exactly what she has been for me.

For days now I've found myself going past that pot of tulips, thinking that there is something about the bouquet that reminds me of Ann and Evy. Like Eric's grandmothers, my new friend offered me a small gift. Yet, I do not think she realizes how touched I was to receive it or how much I believe that particular present will remain with me in future years, long after the flower petals have fallen. I hope to plant the tulips bulbs in the yard to preserve the beauty of this gift, but more important than the flowers, Binaca's note and reference to me as a ray of sunshine was the most appreciated gift.

Two gifts given to me by elderly women, one presented to me by a young woman...a small plaque about the power of a smile, a print of poetic reminders to take time to enjoy our children, and a note recognizing positivity...these are three gifts I'll forever treasure. These are three gifts I'll refer back to often as I move forward in my life.

"A ray of sunshine, a balmy breeze are a gift from God above, and He also gives us faithful friends. To warm our hearts with love."

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