“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1803-1882, American essayist, poet, and leader of the Transcendentalist movement in the early nineteenth century
Several weeks ago, a coworker-friend stopped by my office at Botsford Hospital to ask if I knew anyone who had an extra bed not being used. Her friend lost her job and was living in her daughter’s basement, where the high humidity ruined her mattress. She had to discard the bed since it would have been unsafe to sleep on it. Afterward, this woman began sleeping on the floor. I sent a call out to my buddies at Botsford Hospital where we all work. Soon, I had personal donations of a bed frame, box springs, bed linens, and cash to fill this woman’s need. My fellow donors and I felt an overwhelming sense of obligation to help this person who was so obviously in need. Here’s what they told me:
- “This is just what we do.”
- “Thank you for taking the lead to help this person.”
- “Tell me what you need, and I will provide it.”
- “I will give whatever you need to get this nice lady a bed.”
I was awed by their response, which provided more than $600 worth of cash and merchandise. Some gave extra cash they had. Others gave money they probably needed for themselves. Still others offered things they had saved.
One donor — Cassie Wedlick, a radiologic technologist here in my department at Botsford — remembered her grandparents had a new box springs in storage. They allowed Cassie to donate it to this woman in need. When I picked up the box springs from their home in Riverview, I could see the joy and pride both grandparents felt for their granddaughter Cassie’s compassion. As a parent myself, I understand that moment when you sense your kids are beginning to see a world outside themselves.
I used the cash to buy a new mattress from a local dealer who gladly offered a steep discount when I explained the situation. The last piece of the puzzle was delivering these bulky items. The last donation came from a family friend, who is a single mother of four kids. She arranged to borrow her uncle’s pickup truck and insisted I use the truck to transport these items to the woman needing them.
When I arrived with this bounty, the recipient wept with appreciation for the generosity she had received from complete strangers.
For me, taking this action was just the right thing to do. Focusing on others and giving what I have — encouragement, skills, money, or things — releases joy in my soul. It reminds me of when I was in need, of those who helped me, and, of the multitude of blessings I have in my life. So if this is not your tendency, I suggest you try giving of yourself to someone in need and watch your life change for the better.
David J. Gaffney
Director of Diagnostic Imaging Services at Botsford Hospital