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The Shade of Generosity

17 Comments 11 September 2010

I believe that stories are what bind us together, that we are indeed all a part of a great narrative that has been written throughout time and will continue to be written until the end of time.  We are not cogs in a machine, but all characters, all with our own unique stories that come together in this epic tale.

My tale these past couple of weeks has swung like a giant pendulum from the seeming injustices of this life to the simple generosities of it.  And at each turn, throughout each episode, there is a story that is being woven together like a beautiful tapestry.  My life, my daughter’s life, bumps up against the life of a stranger and we are both changed forever.

It started with me learning at Blogher that the iPad is a great new tool being used by parents of special needs children.  I began reading various articles, like the one about my friend Shannon Des Roches Rosa, on the apps that were being produced for the iPad and the more I read, the more enthusiastic I became about the possibility of MH having one.  The benefits have been enormous and unlike anything parents like Shannon have ever experienced, so, as I’ve mentioned before, I start dreaming about how to make it happen for MH.

Mind you this could not come at a more financially trying time for our family.  We are going on three years of practically no income due to our decision to take a sharp, left turn with my husband’s career around the age of forty.  Oh yeah, and then the economy crashed, and then, and then…so you get the picture.  So, as I am in the midst of trying to figure out how to pay the expenses of setting up a trust for MH, having new testing done and taking care of her general needs…I start thinking about an iPad, crazy, I know, but what I was reading was amazing!?!

I mentioned my desire on Facebook and posted one of the articles.  My friend Kate, who has always been committed to me and my kids, decided to take it a step further.  She spent several years living in the Silicon Valley and thought maybe one of her APPLE friends might have an idea.  Within an hour of putting it out there to her friends, one of the couples, whom we have never met in our lives, let her know that they wanted to provide an iPad for MH.  These people are strangers to me and to MH, yet they were compelled to become a part of our story.

Kate just told me.  I cried.  But I am not surprised, because it seems that my children have, as of late, been the recipient’s of gifts from strangers.  In the midst of the worst financial state of our nineteen years of marriage, MH, as well as my other two children have been afforded the privileges of amazing summer camps, learning opportunities, studying in the finest school system in our state, therapy, after-school programs and now, MH is getting an iPad.  All of these things happened because someone practiced generosity.

These may be the most difficult financial times that our generation have ever encountered, but I write this to tell you that generosity is not dead.  It is alive and well and it changes peoples lives and their stories.  Nelson Henderson, a man who was not famous or otherwise scholarly, told his son Wesley upon graduating, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.”

My children have sat in the shade of those who have practiced this kind of generosity.  And I, as their mother, want to say thank you.  It humbles me and my husband, and cultivates in us a deep desire to raise them to be the same kind of people.  Oh, that they too would plant trees for the shade of others, in every area of their lives.

May your families, institutions, camps and learning centers enjoy the shade as well.  Many, many thanks.

*I want to specifically thank some of the places that have provided opportunities for my children through scholarships.  Being committed to offering your particular camp, therapy or learning opportunity to those who would not necessarily be able to afford it without scholarships is a clear reflection of your heart of generosity: Mitchell’s Place After School Program, Birmingham, Alabama; Camp Laney, Mentone, Alabama; Camp Greystone, Tuxedo, North Carolina; Mitchell’s Place Summer Camp; and all of the family and friends who have been so generous to provide “other” scholarships along the way.  You know who you are!

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17 Comments so far

  1. jennyalice says:

    Oh I am so happy for your family!

    You have such grace in the midst of trying times, and I am quite certain you will raise your children to have generous hearts.

    Can’t wait to hear about your successes!


    • Jorja says:

      jenn, thanks for coming over chica! i don’t feel very grace-ful these days, i feel like a ton of shit has been dumped in my lap most days and there is no one to help me shovel it off! how’s that for a picture! either way, i am grateful that my kids’ lives are being blessed by people, some of which i don’t even know. i know this time is shaping ALL of them, i so hope they won’t need too much therapy! love, love, love to you!

  2. keri says:

    so so so awesome to hear that news!!! and look forward to hearing how that new iPad is helping MH…so encouraging!! 🙂

    • Jorja says:

      kc, thanks, it’s very exciting isn’t it! now if i can just keep her from throwing it! 😉 andy says we have to tell her it is ‘our’ iPad or else she won’t want to use it, ha! i really think it could be an encouraging step for her and for us!

  3. Kristy says:

    Oh Jorja, wow! That just makes me grateful for so many reasons.

    Love that Nelson Henderson quote too. Wow. (I’m being so wise, today, huh? All I can say is WOW!)

  4. lois says:

    What a beautiful chapter in your story! I see a generous God shining through your generous friends.

    • Jorja says:

      lois, isn’t that the truth. he may not be sending any paychecks along, but he is gracious to care for my children. love you!

  5. Pammer says:

    THRILLED for you! xo

  6. April Barber says:

    Dan has been working with some special needs children on the ipad and it is amazing how they have responded! So happy for you, your family, and MH! She will be so cute with it!

    • Jorja says:

      april, dan will have to give me his suggestions for apps! i have a few already in mind, but i want to explore and see what she responds well to at first. thanks!

  7. Judy Helfand says:

    I have been watching this story unfold ever since you first talked about your “dream” on Facebook. I was afraid to say anything as your Facebook post said “Don’t tell Andy!”

    I am thrilled that you have Kate in your life and today I saw the photos of MH with her iPad.

    You refer to the shade of generosity and I thought I would tell you about the Palo Verde tree.

    At a recent HOA meeting the landscape committee chairperson was explaining that we need to pay attention to the “understory”, as it applies to the ecological balance of our desert environment. Are you familiar with the palo verde tree? They serve as “nurse” plants for saguaro cacti by providing a canopy – in effect, a microhabitat – which offers warmth in winter and shade in summer. The slower-growing, longer-lived cactus will eventually replace its one-time protector. This is incredible to witness.

    I am giving you a link to a photo of one of the Palo Verde trees in our yard…see the beautiful saguaro cactus? This saguaro is probably about 75 years old(it still has not produced an arm)…imagine the age of the Palo Verde.

    Tonight I am thinking of all the “nurse plants” that offer shade to MH and your family. She is sure to grow beautifully.


    • Jorja says:

      judy, love your story! i have just been reading about a thing called symbiotic mytosis. i’ll tell you why later, but this relationship between the palo verde and the cacti is a great example of it! love, love!

  8. Jorja, I love this story. So, so amazing and inspiring. I can’t wait to hear how the iPad works out! Best – Stacey

    • Jorja says:

      stacey, it truly is amazing…and humbling! mh loves the ipad and she especially enjoys the puzzle apps and the word/spelling apps. so excited for her to learn more. thanks!

  9. susan says:

    A Greystone girl. I knew you were kindred. 🙂

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things to make you wonder~

“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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