A packet of hot cocoa mix rests on the shelf above my computer, reminding me daily of a lesson my mom taught.
At age 73, she had a stroke that paralyzed her right side. She’d been confined to a wheelchair for many years because of multiple sclerosis. Now she would be in a nursing home for the final 10 months of this phase in her life.
Mom loved to give gifts, even when she was limited in her ability to get around and do things. Living in a retirement apartment, she took a ceramics class and learned how to make seasonal gifts for everyone in the family.
The stroke left her very limited. She still found a way to give.
She started ordering a packet of hot chocolate with every meal, which was quite a surprise to us. She never drank hot chocolate; her two main food groups were bakery and coffee.
She didn’t intend to drink the hot chocolate. Instead, she collected the packets and gave them to my sister to pass along to her two young boys. The hot chocolate became her gift to her grandsons.
Flat on her back, she reminded us it’s always possible to find ways to give. Sometimes, you just need to get a little creative.
With her act of giving, she also taught us that there really is such a thing as too much of a good thing. The nursing home staff learned what she was doing and started bringing extra packets.
Do the math: At least 3 packets a day, 7 days a week, 4 weeks a month, going on for months … We’re talking hundreds of packets of hot chocolate!
Soon, my sister’s food cupboard was overflowing with hot chocolate. Nobody could drink that much! She began farming it out to my brothers and me, and we shared it with others, too.
I kept that one packet. It reminds me daily of the importance of finding ways to give.
We all have so much to share — our time, our energy, our humor, our love, our compassion, our many individual talents. All can be shared in so many ways with so many people, even if we have to get a little creative.
The idea is to keep looking for ways to give, even if the best we can come up with is something the size of a packet.
I’m grateful not only for all that my mom taught me and her ongoing presence in my life, but also for all the other people who have mothered me and taught me so much.
May we live those lessons and share them.