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Low on Support? Pity

Jan Chait

December 29, 2010

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog that said (among other things) I hadn’t really had a pity party about having part of my left leg amputated except for maybe half an hour Thanksgiving morning. And that may have been more about other people being in MY kitchen than about my leg.

One reader suggested that I should have more pity parties. I don’t know about that. I don’t think I’m the pity party type.

My friend Karen said that when she read about the hospital giving me a bright yellow fleece throw — which I dubbed the “Yellow Blankie of Shame” — because I’d almost fallen, she both laughed and cried. The other day, I received a package. It was from Karen. Inside was a poppy-colored fleece throw, along with a note that said: “Throw away the ‘Yellow Blankie of Shame.’ The ‘Poppy Blankie of Pride’ now prevails!”

The warmth of my PBoP is enhanced by the warmth of love, caring, and friendship that accompanied it.

When I was in the hospital, I received a beautiful bouquet of flowers from my Camp Lobegon friends. After I got home, a box filled with a variety of gourmet muffins was delivered to the house — from the same group of friends.

Ladies from my Sisterhood group lined up to bring dinners to my house. These are women who don’t even cook for themselves!

Our neighbors across the street, who are working 18-hour days to get a new business ready to open, are the ones (we discovered lately) who have been shoveling our sidewalks. My next-door neighbor, who recently had knee-replacement surgery, did some last-minute sewing for me so my granddaughter could have Japanese-print flannel sleep pants for Chanukah.

It’s been difficult to get out lately because of the ice and snow. Going down the ramp resembles sledding more than riding and getting up the ramp can be impossible. (There go my plans to retire to Alaska!) So friends I usually meet for lunch now bring food to my house and we visit while we eat.

When Peggy and I planned our trip to Disney World and a Disney cruise with her 4-year-old grandson, an amputation wasn’t even on the radar. But, as I recently told her, the upcoming trip (in February) is giving me a goal to work toward — and something fun to look forward to.

My friend Nancy, who lives in Germany, would get up at midnight or so to call me at a time she knew I would be awake.

This isn’t even mentioning family, including my 82-year-old mother, who came for a week to help out. And I mean she worked! No sitting around chit-chatting and nothing else for her.

My husband even changed two of his classes from classroom-based to Internet ones so he would be free to spend more time with me. I think he was worried about me falling or something. He’s not as tense now that I can pick myself up off the floor.

So how can I have a pity party with that kind of support? But the question remains: Is the support there because I’m basically an upbeat person, or am I an upbeat person because the support is there? Or maybe they feed off each other.

I know a woman in her 90s who is very hard of hearing. She’s homebound, she’s lonely and, because of her hearing problems, many people don’t want to bother trying to have a conversation with her. She’s a grouch. Except with me and a few other people who call her, who take meals to her, and who visit when we can. Do you suppose if a lot of other people did that, her overall attitude would be more cheerful?

Maybe we can all resolve to do what we can to help cheer up somebody else in the new year. Maybe what the world really needs is fewer pity parties.



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