May 12, 2010

When You Find Your Heart in Your Throat

This is the full post that I was going to put at the bottom of the previous Wednesday Random Posts.

I've been struggling to write this in my head for a week now, since it happened two weeks ago, and it's tough because I kind of sound like a victim or a martyr; phrasing is difficult. So if it comes across that way, it's not meant to... it's meant to tell you that... sometimes YOU may do something that seems so small, but to someone else, YOU may have made a permanent memory.

And that happened to me two weeks ago. I nearly cry when I think of it...

I think everyone here knows I do a lot of volunteer work. I've been doing volunteer work my entire adult life. With kids in the picture now, I do it for their schools or with what they are involved with. I do it to keep a pulse on their lives, I do it because I was always taught if something needs to be done... do it, and I do it because I truly do enjoy being involved in something bigger than me.

Life is not about me. My life is about my family.

And so I have found myself probably putting in nearly 50 hours of volunteer hours at my eldest son's school through Band and still doing my probably over 200 hours I do at my younger boys' school and I do it because... I just do it.

I have never once thought, "Oh someone should thank me" or "Why don't I get paid for this?"

In my mind, something is not truly from the heart, truly altruistic if you look to get recognized in any way shape or form. If I do something, I do it behind the scenes and don't look for any recognition AT ALL.

Don't get me wrong, it PISSES ME OFF if someone tries to take credit for something I do, and I'll go straight for jugular no holds barred on that one, but for actual accolades? I don't need it.

It's not what drives me. Getting the job done right, being proud of what *I* did, seeing other people enjoying what has transpired, my product being fully utlized... those are drivers. A simple thank you is cool, I never turn one of those down, but I don't "NEED" anything to drive me.

I drive myself.

That said... it's been six years since I took on the Treasury job at our school and it's a big damn job. It takes a lot of time, I'm not an accountant, I was forced to learn software on my own, no book, no help, I don't know jack about business (by choice, I never took a business class as it bores me to tears), and the big fundraiser the school does that I work from Friday AM until Sunday at 10PM, sends me looking on line every year for a sensory deprivation tank. To know me is to know that my type personality prefers quiet organization. Loud chaos with light and motion can send me into an anxiety riddled frenzy.

But I do it and... I've come to love it.

I've come to love the folks I work with. I love the staff at the school, I love the teachers I've become friends with, I love the men who run the fundraiser... I have truly come to love these folks. I care deeply for all of them and I greatly enjoy their company, their wit, their insights.

My Dad used to tell me all the time, it's the people that make the job, and that's how it is with volunteer work too.

It's the people and quite frankly, I have felt privileged to work with the people I've worked with for the last 6 years.

It has been a real honor to get to know some of these folks.

And I'm passing the torch in June to my successor, I real honest to God CPA, and I'm HAPPY to pass it on... as it is time. It's time for me to wrap up the books, the computer, the statements, and pass them to a younger mother, a mother probably more capable and with more potential than I had... but a mother that could never have more heart than I had for the job.

What I lack in skill... I can usually make up for in passion and heart.

That was a long way to get to what happened two weeks ago...

I was walking into school to pay bills and the Vice Principal stopped me. This is the conversation verbatum:

VP: Mrs. L, someone dropped this off for you!

Me: *blink* A package?

She handed me a soft package wrapped in pretty paper with hearts and flowers. There was a card attached.

Me: Who is this for?

VP: you.

Me: It can't be. Maybe I'm supposed to give it to someone?

VP: All I know is, a Mom rolled down her window, tossed it to me and yelled out as her son got out of the car, "Can you give this to Mrs L for me?" I do believe it's yours.

I looked at the package and sure enough, on the card was my name.

I kept trying to figure out... Why? What did I do? It's not my birthday. It's nothing... why? And who was it that sent it? Was it a joke? I do have a girlfriend that loves to buy me gifts as a joke. Currently I am drinking coffee out of an Alice in Wonderland coffee mug as she said I have a knack like no other for finding rabbit holes and tumbling into them.

I quickly opened the card and found it from a Mother I have met... TWICE. She is a new Mom, having a second grader... I have met her TWO TIMES. The first time I don't remember, but the second time was during the week long fundraiser. She is one of our newest members of the 'all weekend society'.

And the card read something about how volunteers make this world go round and she appreciated all that I do.

SHE appreciates all that I do. SHE, who has met me twice, but knows what I've been doing... SHE appreciates it.

I quickly opened the packaging and she, being a great seamstress, had made me a beach/handbag in teal, with brown trim, very vogue and very in, with my initials monogrammed on the front. I know teachers that have them; I know she does these things for people she appreciates.

I know I'm not the only one.

And this is kind of where I get all tear jerky and feel like a martyr or a bad person, because I swear that in 6 years I have never thought, "Why doesn't anyone ever do for me?" Never.

But I opened this gift, and I reread her card... and it still brings me to tears.

Someone, a near total stranger, recognized that I'm just being me... just doing what I do... and appreciated it enough to take time out of HER busy schedule to make something for me... to thank me... for being me.

I of course sat down and wrote a thank you note.

Never in 6 years... a near stranger.

And I need to tell her in person... her thoughtfulness is touching and changing lives.

Because... I think she kind of changed mine two weeks ago. I can feel it.

Posted by Boudicca at May 12, 2010 09:18 PM

How wonderful!
I can understand - we do what we do because we want to and it needs to be done. But the occasional recognition, particularly if it is heartfelt and unexpected, just means so much.

Posted by: jck at May 12, 2010 09:29 PM

Well, you made me cry. Which is about par for this place... I'm either laughing or crying. ;)

Heartfelt thanks and simple thoughtfulness are so powerful... it's the little things. If they'd given you a check for any amount I doubt it would mean as much.

Hey, you're appreciated! Deal with it! LOL! :-D

Posted by: Pam at May 13, 2010 06:54 AM

You are one unique and amazing person.
Perhaps that mom will follow in your huge footsteps.
THAT would be a very cool thing, too.
Good people inspire. You do that.

Posted by: Jean at May 13, 2010 07:57 AM

You may not "look" to get recognized for your free work, but it sure is nice when it happens, eh? Makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, doesn't it? I don't expect it where I volunteer, but I gotta admit I really like it when it happens, especially from strangers.

Posted by: George P at May 13, 2010 10:09 AM

I can't do that kind of thing. I'm always in awe of people who can. If anyone deserves it you do. She recognized it immediately - that is one amazing woman - in her own way she's like you.

Posted by: Teresa at May 14, 2010 07:54 PM

Bou - You are one of the nicest people I know. I always look forward to Eric's so I can spend a weekend around you (and Mo and Sissy). I'll prolly be out of town this summer when you come up just like I was last year. I've met a lot of really great people from this internet thingy. I'm so glad that Al Gore invented it.

Posted by: Denny at May 16, 2010 09:45 PM