09 September 2005

Amazing Generosity

We are surrounded by the kind and the generous, but it really becomes apparent in time of crisis.

During the Rwandan Genocide, my step-Mom, Audrey, who is a nurse, joined a group called the International Rescue Committee and spent six months in Tanzania working with the refugees. I"ll write more about that some other time, but it's been 11 years since then and I am still amazed that she put her life here on hold for six months, packed up, and lived halfway across the world because she couldn't take watching the suffering on television without doing something to help.

The two things from that time that stick most in my mind were both from letters that I got from her. One arrived after she got the Christmas box that I sent, which contained things like a book (ever see the episode of M*A*S*H where someone got a book? That's how valuable books are in places like refugee camps), a small container of shower gel, some hard candies, and a pair of clean socks. Audrey wrote me a thank you letter and told me how much everything was appreciated and that she was "saving" the socks for when Dad came to meet her after her tour was over because the red clay in the soil got into everyone's clothes and wouldn't really wash out. I have a drawer full of clean white socks and get new clean white socks anytime I want with very little effort.

The other was when Audrey wrote and told me that it had been a good week because infant mortality was down 20% that week. Infant mortality is just not a part of my daily life. Burying babies is not something that I have to do. Every time I get a real good pity party started the back of my brain asks me how the infant mortality is going in my neighborhood. I'm amazingly lucky to live the life I do and I owe part of that sense of gratitude to Audrey's incredible generosity and character.

I think that Rosellen and Audrey would get along very well for reasons besides both being quilters, nurses, grandmothers, and gardners. Rosellen wrote a beautiful post about finding an unfinished quilt that her grandmother had started that I had to forward immediately to Audrey. Go read that post to see what she did with it. And then the two posts she's written since then.

Their generosity goes far beyond writing checks.

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