During the “season of giving” that just passed, I was reminded once again of something that, in our acquisitive culture, is easy to forget: with someone you care about, no gift you can give is more valuable than the gift of your time.
I’m blessed to come from a close-knit family: my sister and I have always had a strong connection with each other and our mom (our wonderful dad passed away when we were young children). That strong bond has spread outward to include our husbands and our children, and after decades of togetherness and happy memories, we are a proud (and loud) tribe of 10.
But these days, arranging that “togetherness” isn’t always easy. Our children are grown (the youngest is a high school senior), and three of them don’t live in Orlando. And every one of us in my sister’s family and mine is busy, busy, busy. It’s a busy world we all live in, isn’t it? Finding time to get together can be hard.
That said, for a few magical days sprinkled throughout each year, we are able to make time for the whole tribe to gather as one. I don’t think magical is too strong a word here. Each time, I can’t help but marvel at the gorgeous alchemy that bonds us together. For those short windows of time when we’re all together, I’m certain that everyone is exactly where they want to be.
Especially my mom. For the past 4 years, we’ve been lucky enough to have her living near us, at Oakmonte’s independent senior living community in Lake Mary. Before that, she was living on her own in South Florida, but since her move my sister and I can see her frequently, and her five grandkids can spend time with her in various combinations as they come and go throughout the year.
But those rare times when we’re all together are especially meaningful—to all of us, but perhaps even more so to my mom. I love to see her feeling so happy, so honored, so loved. She positively glows! I think part of what makes those gatherings so special is the unspoken act of caring that occurs whenever you make room in your schedule in order to spend time with someone. What you are telling that person is that being together is a priority for you—that although there are so many other things you could (and, maybe, should) be doing, you care enough to put everything else on hold so you can enjoy each other’s company.
Lots of seniors in Orlando are not so fortunate to have frequent visits from family. Some simply no longer have living family or are estranged from them; others have family that live far away and can rarely come. That’s part of the reason the Jewish Pavilion exists: to help make sure that seniors in living facilities are not forgotten. It’s a wonderful thing that we have Jewish Pavilion staff and volunteers to make regular one-one-one visits to a good number of these lonely seniors—both Jewish and non-Jewish.
How much more wonderful it would be if we had enough volunteers to visit many more! If you have some of your time to give, I can tell you this much: it will make a wonderful present to a senior in need.