Penny is the CFO and Managing Director of the Jewish Pavilion. Her Father passed almost a year ago on July 28, 2018 and in August 2018, her brother (a Pavilion Program Director, Office Assistant, and Volunteer) was hospitalized and subsequently diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer. He is remaining very positive and always has a smile on his face.
Many of you know me, and know I have gone through some difficult times as of late. It's ok. Everyone has difficult times and it's a part of life. They are horrible times, but I am healthy, and thank G-d for that. Unfortunately, I have a close family member (my brother) who is not as healthy. Many of you are in the same situation. In these times, different things stand out day to day. One of the things I have been most moved by is the amount of people who have reached out to me, of course to say, “How is he?” and “How is she? (referring to my Mom)”, but also to say, “How are you?”. I am known to be very independent, and I'm admittedly not great at accepting help, but I have a new appreciation for the question itself.
How am I? I am overwhelmed, I am tired, I hurt and I'm scared to death, but I am also grateful, blessed, relieved, and hopeful. I am so many things, I often have no idea what I am. What do I answer? “I'm hanging in there”, and I am.
I am like so many people you see everyday walking around you, who are going through a difficult time in their personal life. There are lessons in this. The person who is short with you on line in a store may be away from a loved one who really shouldn't be left alone, but there just wasn't anyone to stay with them while a drug store run was made. The person who turns you down for an evening out may be cooking or cleaning for a loved one who is ill. The person who hasn't reached out to you or returned your phone call may be spending their time on the phone with doctors, lawyers, insurance companies or family members. If that is the case though, they are probably the ones who depend on your strength, caring, generosity, empathy and most importantly, patience. Those are the people who know, that you are what is keeping them going. I have spent many years being that person. I have been visiting elder care facilities for many years. It has been amazingly fulfilling to volunteer.
When I am visiting facilities throughout Central Florida for The Jewish Pavilion, I learn so much from asking the residents I see, “How are you?”. The best times are when they answer me. I now know the gift I give them by really listening - not only to the words, but to what they are really saying. I also know the gift they give me when they ask about me.
Everyone goes through difficult times. Most want to do something to help. The question, “How are you?” says a lot of things. How are you handling things? Are you taking time for yourself? Do you need anything, I am opening the door for you to tell me. What are you focused on right now? An most importantly it says, I CARE. Thanks for caring.