Saturday, September 30, 2006

On Being Nice

All this white space has been bothering me, you know. It’s just sitting over here waiting for words. So I’m thinking maybe this blog is good for something after all. We’ll see.

I know I’ve joked about niceness quite a bit over on “The Blog That Wouldn’t Die” and how it seems everyone is all the time telling me to be nice. But have any of you ever had someone do something really nice for you? I don’t mean nice like holding a door open when your hands are full or not cutting you off to slide into that last parking spot at the mall. I’m talking about seriously nice. The makes you want to cry kind of nice.

Some of you might remember I mentioned a while back [not here, in another forum -- I know, the internet is a confusing place] that in July a co-worker’s 18-year-old son was diagnosed with lymphoma. My DD is the same age and, until this news, my co-worker and I had similar expectations for what the fall would hold for us as parents. He and I both were looking forward to sending our youngest child off to college, spending big bucks so they could pursue higher education and lower parental supervision.

All that changed for him and his family. Forget about AP test results, they were now looking at blood tests, CAT scans and MRIs. No more worrying about alcohol consumption at weekend parties, they were hoping the white blood count would stay high enough to allow the chemo-therapy to commence. And he had an oncologist advising him not to enroll his son in college at all, it would be too stressful and his son would need to concentrate all his energy on fighting the cancer. Balance that against the reality of an 18-year-old needing to maintain full-time student status to be eligible for continued insurance coverage of what was now one hell of a pre-existing condition. Tough choices.

They were lucky to find some very supportive people at a local community college who helped enroll the son in a curriculum of online classes, even made room in the ones that were full, so he could minimize stress and germ exposure. And that was nice. But that’s not the really nice part.

This young man was on the golf team all through high school. Sort of a star player, actually. So his buddies from the team decided to hold a fundraiser golf tournament to show their support. Help the family out with some of those expenses insurance just won’t cover. They found a small local course that agreed to cooperate, set up the tournament with entry fees and a system of letting people sponsor each hole on the course.

Well, they held the tournament this past weekend. My co-worker said there were so many people there you would have thought it was a PGA event. “Everyone I know or am supposed to know,” was his estimate. A local church donated hot dogs, chips and drinks. In addition to the entry fees, eighteen holes were available for sponsorship -- for which they had 70 sponsors sign up. Cash prizes awarded to the winners were, without exception, donated back to the fundraiser. When all was said and done, this bunch of teenaged boys raised more than $11,000 to help cover their friend’s medical expenses.

My co-worker was visibly moved as he told me all this, overwhelmed by the outpouring of community support and friendship. So was I.

It’s early days yet, but the chemo treatments are going well and everyone is sounding very optimistic. And one little corner of the world is a nicer place.

I may not always manage to be nice myself, but I sure know it when I see it.

4 comments:

Sheryl said...

You're nicer than you give yourself credit for - why else would you share such a positive story about humanity. but don't worry, I won't blow your cover

McB said...

Aaawww. Just when you're about to give up on the human race, it goes and redeems itself.

I personally think niceness is overrated. I've been thinking about this subject, actually, and the people I know. I know some that are very rough around the edges, sarcastic and cranky as all get out. I know some that are so darn nice they almost glow with it and you'd swear you could hear the hallaleuha corus in their vicinity.

But when push comes to shove, guess who has been there when I needed them? So my thinking is that you can't always go by the way people act; you have to rely on what it is they actually do.

Like a bunch of obnoxious teenagers who come through for a friend.

BCB - tell your co-worker that a few more people will be keeping his kid in their prayers. And I'm glad he's taking his shot at college anyway. Gotta have something else in your life to think about.

Anonymous said...

BCB

What a wonderful community! Being in a similar situation myself, I can fully appreciate the kindness and compassion of those terrific fundraiser people! And you know, they don't do it for any recognition or thanks or kudos. They do it because anything less than their best shot isn't good enough.

Isn't it GREAT to know those kind of people?

What a tough spot for that whole family. I'll keep them all in my prayers, too.

Margaret

Mary said...

Oh, BCB, nice isn't what people say, it's what they do. When my brother went through chemo, he lost all his hair. (And he'd had more hair than my other four brothers put together, so that was a strain.) All of his co-workers at the firehouse shaved their hair in a gesture of solidarity. And I'm not sure how that worked, but apparently they donated all their sick leave to him during recovery.

To me, you can be as snarky as you like, so long as you're there when it counts.