Have you ever received an unexpected blessing? Have you ever been one? It’s not as hard as you might think. You don’t have to make a project out of it. You don’t need to attend a class on “being the blessing.” In fact, it doesn’t require anything more than simply showing up in your world, wherever you are, and loving people as you would want them to love you.
Here’s an example.
If you follow this blog you may remember a recent post entitled “You Just Never Know.” That one came out of the unexpected loss of my mom. In the post, “Sometimes You’re the Bug…” I alluded to taking a couple of pretty big hits in the past month. Actually, the hits happened within a couple of weeks of each other. The events I was referring to occurred a month apart.
Here’s the backstory: Monday the 19th of January my mom died. I went back to work that Thursday. Wednesday the next week I got a call telling me my dad had passed away. I’d dreaded that call because he and I hadn’t seen each other, or really spoken, for almost 25 years. I’d always hoped that might change, that I might reconnect somehow.
It seemed, with that phone call, there wasn’t going to be any way now to reconnect. But unexpected blessings often happen through unusual and sometimes hard to imagine circumstances.
Twenty-five years ago my paternal grandmother died. As it turns out, my wife’s grandfather had died the same day, and we were unable to be at each other’s family funerals. So, I rode in the funeral limousine with my dad, his wife Jane, and one of his adopted daughters, Patti.
Now, my grandmother Porteous was hugely important in my life. I don’t hesitate to credit her for being the anchor and the one fixed point in my life that guided me through some really rough waters. Her loss hit me hard. My dad was dealing with things his own way but Patti was there and, I guess, she saw a need I couldn’t really express and simply reached out to meet it. During that brief but difficult moment she was a warm and kind soul when I really needed just that sort of caring, human touch.
It was the only time I met her, but Patti left an indelible imprint of kindness and consideration I never forgot. And, of course, that might have been that.
Fast-forward 25 years.
Not long after getting word dad died, I received an e-mail from someone named Wendy in Tennessee I’d never met before. Wendy, it turns out, is the daughter of Patti’s sister. Like her aunt Patti here she was, reaching out to offer solace and comfort to someone she’d never met even though she is in the midst of her own losses (it turns out, sadness upon sadness, her aunt Patti died shortly before my dad). The solace, comfort, and very tangible things she’s shared have helped to make this all seem less surreal and more grounded.
It may sound odd, but it feels in some ways like renewing a connection with someone I never knew before last week. Strange, and yet there’s the same oddly familiar experience of kindness and consideration. Easy, and natural; not strained or difficult or awkward in the way you might suspect it could be.
And so, there it is. A blessing unlooked for and totally unexpected. Through the conversations and e-mails and pictures and videos Wendy has shared I feel like some of the blank spaces in those 25 years have been filled. It’s been a reconnection of sorts that, on a Wednesday two weeks ago, I did not see coming. And, I hope, the beginning of some sort of relationship with a part of my dad’s family that I never got a chance to know.
That would truly be yet another unexpected blessing.
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