When I was a kid, we would take a trip to the Blue Hole in Erie County Ohio. It was said to be a bottomless spring fed lake, and the water was crystal clear. As we sat around the water on benches, my parents would buy us each a bag of popcorn and a coke. I didn’t realized it as a child, but we didn’t have much money, so the trip and the popcorn was the best they could do for us as a vacation.
We would lean over the rail, and my father would start his narrative of divers not being able to find the bottom. As our imaginations expanded with the sound of his voice, I noticed my father’s hand slowly reaching into my popcorn bag to take a handful. I jerked it away quickly and scowled at him letting him know that this was my popcorn. The hurt look on his face is something that I will never forget. He stopped talking and walked over to one of the benches provided for tourist, and closed his eyes.
I didn’t notice before, but he didn’t have a bag of popcorn, nor a drink. I stood there for a moment justifying my actions, and felt that he should understand that I was just a kid. Then it hit me. He didn’t have a bag of popcorn.
He denied himself the pleasure so that we could have the great experience. He could afford what he could afford, and he gave it to my brother, my sister, and me. I walked over with my popcorn, and sat down next to him on the bench. I then scooted over under his resting arm and held my bag in front of him. “Please Dad, share some popcorn with me.”
He pulled me in closer, and we shared what was left. In that snapshot, I learned that giving was a moment of sharing between giver and receiver. It was never about how the giver feels, or how wonderful it makes one look. It was about the relationship, and expressing how important that relationship is to each. Presents wrapped up in bow can come in many different forms.
I was a little closer to my father that day, and in this tumultuous time, that memory brings back a gratitude for the lesson. In this season, that memory is where I choose to focus. Family is about the other. Friendship is about the other. Business and services should be about the other. As I watch our staff focus on the hearing health of others, so that our patients can stay connected with friends and family, I am grateful. They make the patient important, and the patients give back to the relationship. One can’t teach this. It is who they are. When focusing on the other is important to both sides, giving finds a true meaning. It’ truest meaning.