When dreams grow bigger
An unexpected rap at the door on a cold wintry night removed me from a cozy blanket cocoon. A sleepless night the previous evening prompted my unusual self-indulgence. Standing at the door was a dear friend, passing through town. Maybe it was the fogginess of a tired brain, but his appearance served as a beacon to remember – write that blog, write that blog.
Many times the teacher becomes the student. Watching this friend has been all lesson in my life as this man, and his family, have been the models of generosity.
Snow melted off of sturdy boots while we talked in my living room and old dog inched closer for extra rubbings behind elderly ears. The impromptu visit became a necessity because of a societal ill – never enough time. The last time our lives crossed paths was when my friend had been honored for being a Hometown Hero – a title more than aptly fitting.
What a blessing it was to surprise him with the bestowed honor and to be there among those who like us had been recipients of his family’s boundless gifts of love, time and resources. All in attendance were there to surprise him. But here is the thing about heroes, they never cease to amaze. After learning of the award and the monetary award to a charity of his choice, he stunned everyone in the room. He quietly explained how he had hoped to surprise all of us by awarding Special Olympics with a donation. The givers became doubly blessed as not one but two checks were awarded to some of his biggest fans. Not a dry eye could have been found in the room.
I have witnessed his family who models what it means to give generously – especially to those small, overlooked, and often without a voice. Special Olympics, Big Buddies, and the Ronald McDonald house were some of the bigger names. The others are too numerous to list, but among them are the grieving, the souls beat up by loss that while the rest of the world goes on they are trying desperately to make it to the next minute. It is a marathon for life’s breath. My family would be among the recipients of their beautiful commitment to loving others even when, at times, the world was falling apart around them.
Without their help, our dream of remembering Reed at the hospital where he died would have been nothing more than idealistic, swirling firings of neurons in my head. Their perseverance while waiting for just the right thing led to a beautiful friendship. Through their business the Reed-A-Cheetah program was born, allowing us to build a dream of bringing comfort to those who need it most, in their darkest hour. Through their love our dream became real. Reed would have been proud.
We were stunned last spring by their sad news. What happened that day still leaves me in awe! Salinated drops came pouring forth as my ears and heart did not want to hear their business was closing. They have given so much. Why is this happening? In a moment that was both surreally raw and beautifully poignant, even when their darkness was coming closer, they shone a light of incredible hope. The cheetah “business” could not – would not – die. Our friends had met as a family and decided the way to ensure the proliferation of cheetahs would be to give our family the stuff your own animal business. Do what? You are giving us the entire kit and caboodle? My knees were weak as I tried to protest. This was too large. Too generous. Too lavish a gift. My bitter tears gave way to the blessed tears of being loved, overwhelmed with thankfulness. Who loves like this? My feeble attempts to protest were met with a matter of fact it-is-done-this-conversation-is-over determination. Honestly, I think I cried for days.
Friends like this are rare to find.
This is not a gift to be squandered. We have had family meetings, talked, and dreamed, talked and dreamed some more. In the end, we have decided we want this adventure to reflect the generosity with which it was bestowed. Our intention is to have a Give It Forward model of entrepreneurship. With the purchase of one stuffed animal, we will give one away. Purchasers can stuff their own animals and the ones that will be gifted to charity. If someone has a charity or fundraiser they want to support, we will work with them to hopefully make that dream happen just as our friends did for us.
It doesn’t happen often in life, but through all our dreaming and planning, words fail us on one important aspect – a name for all of this goodness. How do you name a gift so incredible? We struggle decide on a name for this new venture. Adam was given the charge to name creation. We would have woefully failed in his duty.
What I do know is that no matter the name we will strive to live up the gift givers expectations, because our last see-you-soon, prior to our quick respite from the snowy day, held the parting words “The Ronald McDonald house could sure use some little animals.” Yes. Yes, I would guess they could. Because while we move forward in healing, hurt, needing comfort is always around the corner. We never lose sight of the comfort lavishly poured out in many different ways. His words were both a blessing and a reminder to live generously with a hope that no matter what darkness surrounds someone’s story – love will conquer all.
Name our Adventure contest: As the new proprietors and caretakers of a dream making adventure, we need your help! Reed-A-Cheetah and all his stuffie friends are waiting for a new name for their big adventure: bringing comfort and joy to those who need it most. Please submit your ideas for a name for this business adventure. The person who submits the winning name will be awarded a free stuffed friend and the opportunity to “bring him or her to life” as well as the donated friend. All submissions should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by January 31st. Children of all ages (3 -103) are encouraged to participate.