Sunday, October 21, 2012

What's more important?

What's more important - a little kid's birthday party, or making sure a dying man is taken care of? Attending a little kid's birthday party, or paying a visit to someone who may not be here tomorrow?

Of course, most of us sitting here reading this question would say the dying man is more important. But then make these two people, people you actually know. Then the answer becomes whichever person you have more of a vested interest in. And, we then expect every other person's answer to be the same answer we have.

I woke up this afternoon to a phone call, which my daughter answered and took a message for me. Someone was calling asking if I would be willing to sit with my father-in-law so my mother-in-law could go to the caller's child's birthday party. .... I was livid. First, there was definitely no question as to my willingness to sit with Dad. I love that man as if he were my own father. In fact, I consider him my own father. I would drop everything to help him. But for someone else to call and ask this? After she'd already been told no by my mother-in-law? Talk about selfish. You just don't do that. If Mom had called wanting to attend this birthday party, I would have been over to her place in a heartbeat. But for someone else to call and ask this? This is rude. This is saying "my child's birthday is more important than your father's health." I didn't call her back... I had mom call her because, as I told mom, if I called, I would definitely not hold my tongue and I would be calling the woman a dumb bitch.

But, it got me thinking... how many other people have taken any interest in them? A few friends, yes. And I have been impressed with some people's willingness to help out by bringing them food so Mom doesn't have to cook. But there are many others whom I would have expected to stop by. People I thought might occasionally pop their head in to see if they can help with anything. To see if they can offer a little emotional support. Or spiritual support. Or anything. These people will eagerly go to a child's birthday party, but can't be bothered to see a dying man.

Dad may make it another year. Knowing how stubborn he is, it's possible. But it's also possible he'll be gone tomorrow, or next week, or next month. We don't know. We don't know what God has planned. I just know that when he leaves, he's going to go knowing that he was loved and cherished. And before he goes, Mom is going to know she is not alone and does not have to face this by herself.

But back to which is more important...

Obviously to me, the man is. A child will most likely have many more birthday parties. And hell, my kids have never had birthday parties that involved people other than family. There are a few reasons for this, but one main reason is that I don't believe in people bringing me or my children gifts. This doesn't mean we'd turn down a card or gift, but birthday parties make guests feel obligated to purchase a gift, and make them feel obligated to make an appearance. I would rather see people spend their money on people who need it more (maybe this is their own family, maybe it's a friend or relative of theirs, or maybe it's a complete stranger). I would rather people go to visit a friend or family member who could really use a bit of support.

Birthdays are great. I like cake and love the look of joy on my kids' faces. And there is nothing wrong with celebrating life (which is basically what the purpose of a birthday party should be). But I don't want people to be obligated to celebrate that. And I definitely don't believe it is right to choose celebrating life over lending a helping hand (or at least not lending a hindering hand) to someone in need.

So, the lessons attached to this bitch session...

1) Never, ever, EVER ask someone to care for someone else when it is not your right to make such a request (dumb bitch). I don't care what your intentions are... it is still selfish and rude.

2) Teach your children selflessness. Giving them elaborate birthday parties where people feel obligated to give them presents only teach children to selfishness. And do you really know if these people give a shit? I'd rather receive a handmade card from someone who truly loves me, than a $100 gift from someone whom is only giving it to me as an obligation.

3) Make an effort to be there. Stop in to a neighbor's house to offer spiritual support. Go see that friend and ask if you can help out. Answer that email from someone in desperate need of strength or a friend. Stop treating people in need like they're an inconvenience.

4) Celebrate life. But also remember that life is not forever, so serve people every day, however you can, for as long as you can. Give of yourself.

And most importantly....

5) Always show people you love how much they mean to you. You may not have another chance. They (or you) may not be here tomorrow.

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