Share Your Gift

Posted In: Other Good Stuff
Posted On: 11/1/2016

I recently was very fortunate to be recognized with a lifetime achievement award from Naturally Boulder.  As part of my acceptance speech, I told a story about Sharing Your Gift which I hope will resonate with you. -Jane

Some of us are born with lots of gifts.  Maybe you are musically talented, or you are good at accounting, or you have the patience of a saint, or perhaps you have more money than most.  Here is one story of how someone with only one gift shared it with the greatest of generosity.

My mom had a difficult life.  Here’s the short version: she got pregnant with me as a teenager. My father left her, me and my three brothers when she was in her early thirties. He was the definition of a dead-beat dad.  After that, she usually had two or three low-paying jobs at any one time to keep the family afloat, but she was still always in debt. For the last ten years of her life, she experienced just about every possible health issue from a quadruple bypass to dialysis to cancer.

But in her life, my mom was given one great gift:  she had a positive attitude. You would actually never know that she was living this difficult life because she was always the cheeriest person in the room.  She did not know a stranger and made it a point to chat with everyone who crossed her path.

Her gift came out in full force when she was diagnosed with throat cancer.  For the months that she went in for chemo and radiation, she always was bright and sunny.  If you have gone through cancer yourself or with a loved one, you know that is not easy.  Cancer treatment centers are generally somber places with patients hooked up to machines, losing their hair, just feeling bad overall and the staff is used to more tears than laughter.

But laughter was there on the day that we went to get mom’s petscan results.  We were waiting for the doctor, when I turned to mom and said, “I think I am going to get some donkeys!”  She literally squealed, “What!?” and started laughing hysterically.  I went on to say, “Donkeys are just like the one in Shrek.  You know, all bouncing around and if they could talk, they would talk all the time and sound just like Eddie Murphy!” 

She was still laughing quite hard when the doctor walked in.  As you might imagine, he was quite surprised to find my mom laughing.  He asked what was going on and mom said, “Janie is going to get some donkeys, and we are going to go find them together.  Did you know that they are just like the donkey in Shrek and they bounce around and if they could talk, they would sound like Eddie Murphy!?”

But the doctor had something on his mind other than donkeys.  He smiled at her remark and said, “Carol, I have bad news.  Your cancer is incurable.”  He had tears in his eyes as he said that to us.  It didn’t take long for the tears to well up in my eyes and then I asked, “How long does she have to live, doctor?”  He replied, “It’s impossible to know for sure, but probably less than three months.”

With that, my mom turned to me and said, “Well, I guess we better go this weekend and find those donkeys!”

And that was that.  No boo-hoo-ing. No creating a painful situation for the doctor.  Just a positive attitude about the one positive thing she could focus on.

We went and saw the donkeys that weekend.

Mom was gone within two weeks of the diagnosis.

My mom only had one gift, and she shared it until the very end.  Me, I have been blessed with so many gifts.  My guess is that you also have been blessed with many gifts in your life.  Regardless of your age or life circumstance, you have something that someone else badly needs.

Please share your gift.