Rebel With a Clause: Give yourself a present – open your heart

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 3, 2002


There is no greater treasure than the gift of time.

The greatest present you can give yourself is to open your heart to others.

Every day I meet a few more people, and I am always warmed to hear about someone who manages to overcome the daily grind of work and home life and find a few minutes to offer a helping hand.

If you have ever done an ounce of community service, you know it feels good. It’s a little easier to sleep at night, wear a smile on your face during the day, and feel a greater connection with life as a whole. One of my favorite memories from high school is visiting the nursing home as part of an extracurricular service organization.

I remember the first time I went. The environment of the home almost frightened me.

I was weary about the smell and the sounds. It is not always a pleasant place because of all the illness and problems with people of heightened age. After sitting down and talking to some residents, I felt a fulfillment of love and never wanted to leave. They were so happy to have us there.

We used to play Bingo with them. We even brought our dance team and performed for them at Christmas time.

I will never forget that little lady in the front row who stood up and gave a little shake herself. It made her so happy to see us dancing around, and you could just see the energy emerging from its hidden place deep within the wrinkles of time and the gray hairs of wisdom.

She was feeling good, and it was wonderful. Always at the end of our activity, my friend and dear companion Em and I would venture down the halls and poke our heads into the rooms. We would not always be graciously received and sometimes found people who were beyond affection and just could not be visited. But, we did find the two little ladies at the end of the hall that opened our eyes to picture perfect friendship, in all its maturity and grace. The ladies were roommates in the home, and we found them to be just the cutest things. They were incredibly sweet and loved hugs.

Each time we visited the home, we were told stories of their younger, “more beautiful” days. We would look at pictures of their families, the people they loved but could not visit often. They would tell us about the times when they were just like us.

Although we frequently heard stories in repetition, we never minded one more round. I remember looking around the room once, realizing that every person reaches a similar point-old age- at one time or another, trying to comprehend that one day my hands, too, will be wrinkled and my hair will turn gray.

They reminded me of Em and I. How lucky we would be to have each other for so long.

They were the real jewel in each other’s lives. They were best friends and sole companions, all they had and all they needed.

It seems that the little gray-haired ladies did not always remember us from time to time as we visited, but they were always thrilled to see us, and tinkled pink with our youth.

We adored those little ladies and appreciated the time we were able to spend with them.

Just one day, five minutes can change the life of another person. It amazes me how a person can touch someone so deeply without even knowing it.

Love is heaven and happiness is bliss. Share some time with someone who may not be as fortunate, young, or happy as you.

There is no greater feeling than making someone smile. You may just surprise yourself with the smile you give back.

RACHEL HARRIS is a summer intern reporter for L’Observateur. She may be contacted at (985) 652-9545.