The other day, a very sick and physically frail man was on an ill-advised shopping trip with his wife. The couple appeared to be in their late sixties or early seventies. The man was leaning on his wife's arm as they made their way around the store; he had temporarily left his wheelchair behind.
All at once, to my alarm, the man nearly lost his balance. His wife struggled to support him as he slowly regained his footing and started back to his wheelchair. I stood nearby, ready to assist them. Noticing this, the woman said to her husband, “If she thinks she's going to help you, she's crazy.”
If I had not been so taken aback by this remark, I might have pointed out that I had reacted by instinct, since I had worked as a caregiver before. As things were, I said nothing, watching as the couple painstakingly made their way back to safety. They left without another word. Although I understood that self-reliant pride and perhaps even jealousy had factored into the woman's comment, this incident put a damper on the remainder of my day.
A couple days later, I saw the same woman again. She came toward me and there was nowhere I could go, even though she was really the last person I wanted to see.
I was confused, because her body language right then was telling me that she wanted a hug. I was glad that I was holding a clothing hanger in my left hand, because this made me less accessible. Well, she gave me a hug anyway, and of course, I had to hug her back. She told me that her husband was going home to hospice and she wanted to thank me and tell me goodbye.
So much for Grinch.
Even though things aren't always the way they seem, we should never be afraid to give to others. And, anyway, isn't it better to give than receive?