Picture, if you will, a chain-link fence and how each segment supports and integrates with the adjacent ones. The interlocking connections, so consistent and aligned, make them durable and resistant to stresses. Alone, they are nothing more than an odd shaped square; together, a formidable wall.
I was sitting at a traffic light this winter, drama and chaos in my head space, and for some reason I focused on the very neat, snow-covered fence at the corner business. The wind was fierce, but the structure barely moved. A green light and the slight honk of a horn brought me back to the immediate present.
But I realized suddenly why that was the focus of my daydream. My life and current situation have a lot in common with that image. Though one was a cold, gray, steel assembly, strong and unyielding, mine, just as stalwart, is flesh colored, warm in comparison, human and genuine. Both count on others to make the puzzle fit and work.
My grandson was born just before Christmas with the need for medical intervention. As is the case so often, the costs of some of his care will not be covered by insurance. So family and friends took it upon themselves to begin the process of fundraising, and all the mind-boggling efforts that go with it.
If I ever in my life felt like a loner, this experience has opened my eyes to the amazing world of givers, those who reach out and grab you, supporting you, lifting you and making things happen. The help of family, friends and working associates (bosses, co-workers and patients) didn't surprise me. They have always been quick to help out with anything.
It was the friends of friends and neighbors of family and senior center buddies of someone's mother-in-law! That's what has astounded me. In this economic climate of desperate times, there was only a hint that it even existed.
The connectors in my life have joined forces and paved the way for my grandson to someday feel the power of their unity. He will be told of the generous people who made a basket, bought some tickets, offered food and donations of all kinds and rallied around him.
My son and daughter-in-law, so appreciative and awed, will, I'm sure, detail the scores of kindnesses shown to him and, as he grows, teach him to value the connective power of people joining forces for a common goal. It will be an eternal lesson about life, relationships and selflessness.
Actually, it's been a big eye-opener for me. Of course, I've participated in many such raffles and charities through the years, and never gave the ramifications any more thought. But when I look back, I do remember how energetic and bubbly the organizers were. They were obviously busy hawking tickets, welcoming those entering and getting the crowds energized, yet they were so happy and spirited!
I have determined that being with others who share your empathy must elicit a power boost of serotonin and adrenaline combined. But maybe, no. I think it just feels good to know that you are part of a bigger plan on earth.
Jonah now has his own chain-link fence around him. A fortified wall of support that will keep him protected from the world that is apathetic and distant. Hopefully, he will only feel the connections he has inspired and someday give back to the world that has been so gracious.
Jessica Cronenberger, who lives in West Seneca, is amazed by the generosity of friends and strangers alike.