One of the things that we've been doing, since our children have been in preschool, has been to send pictures and words of support for people who we know are going through a difficult time in life. People like my friend, Felipe.
We've dubbed our little project, "Operation Sunshine" and when we recruited our Girl Scouts to join in the love-fest, and began sending cards to people, whom we don't even know, our compassion muscles really began to flex.
This is one of the cards that our children made for my co-worker, Mark - an amazing man, who once ran the Boston Marathon in 2:35. He also is the owner of a very, very small dog. As you can see.
Mark just celebrated his 55th birthday in March; and in our company - 55 years old is a major milestone - because you are eligible to retire and receive your pension. I've heard people say that when you turn 55, you can actually see and feel the golden handcuffs come flying off and dissipate in to thin air. So my friend, Mark, a world-class runner, turns 55 years old and less than three months later, falls down while running on a Tuesday afternoon. He'd been feeling poorly for a while, and was planning to go in for a doctor's appointment that coming Thursday, but when he fell down - he was taken to the hospital where they wound up doing an MRI and he was diagnosed with an inoperable, malignant, brain tumor. They were able to remove 80% of the mass - which was the size of a peach - and he is responding very well to chemotherapy and radiation. So well in fact, that he recently has returned to work full time. But his situation certainly highlights the importance of living for the NOW and ENJOYING your life, because there are no guarantees that one day, once you retire ... you'll do all those things that you'd really want to do - but have been putting off.
This is one of the cards that we made for my co-worker, Tina - an amazing woman, who has been with her husband for 31 years .... since she was 14 years old.
In my former role, I was the only woman in the group until Tina joined our team. As the mother of four children, she and I had a lot in common and we spent many a morning chatting it up about how to achieve the optimum work-life balance. We both agree that the flexibility to work from home, at least two days a week, would be a huge improvement. Tina has a sister who is 11-months older than she is, and they are extremely close. Her sister, never had children, and never married. But she lived two-miles away from Tina and was a second mother to her sister's children; often picking them up at school when Tina was stuck in a meeting - or preparing dinner for her sister's family at least once a week. One month ago, Tina was unable to reach her sister on a Saturday - and didn't think much of it, until the next day, when her sister's friends called and said that they were supposed to go boating together and she never showed up. When Tina arrived at her sister's apartment - the light was on and her car was there, but she didn't answer the door. Two long hours later - the fire truck arrived and entering through her sister's bedroom window, discovered that she had died of what would later be determined, a massive heart attack. She was only 46-years old.
This is a card that our children made for my co-worker, Pitu; an amazing man who lives in Germany and has a heart of gold. This past March, Pitu suffered a massive stroke and there were many who feared he may not even survive. We pulled together a care package for him that included get well cards, Chapstick, peanut M&Ms and the fabulous Q-20.
For the past six months, Pitu has been undergoing intensive rehabilitation and our family has prayed for him, every night. Two weeks ago, I sent a note to Pitu's wife to ask how he was doing, and much to my surprise, last week - Pitu himself, responded. It was such a lovely feeling to see that my friend, who is still a resident at the rehabilitation facility, was able to send an e-mail, himself! I told the children about this and they, too, were overjoyed. So they promptly sat down and began to make him a new batch of cards. One thing I should mention, is that my friend Pitu is Indian, and although I do not know for sure his religious beliefs - I would imagine he is Hindu or Buddhist.
So you might imagine my surprise - and then uproarious laughter - when I saw that our children had made him cards with such an intense Christian religious theme.
Like this one, where Elizabeth drew Mount Calvary.
When I told her that Pitu is Indian and his beliefs may be different, she colored all of the crosses in bright colors and said, "There. Those are Indian colors!"