The Day One Tweet Changed Everything

Sometimes, my Facebook account surprises me. Today, it reminded me of a traumatic event I had tried hard to forget. But I had also forgotten how much good came from it. And all because of one tweet.

Three years ago today, on US Thanksgiving, I was robbed in the security line at LAX. My purse was spirited away in seconds, by someone who just as quickly disappeared into the crowd and was never seen again.

As usual, I had requested a wheelchair and an attendant to escort me through security. Their role is to help get me through the line, assist me in getting my belongings scanned and collected at the other end, and then get me to my gate. I usually have a decent experience – but not this time.

This attendent in LAX didn’t know how to escort a blind person through security, was rude, and worse, actually pushed me and the wheelchair into a cart of plastic bins to get them out of his way. I was appalled. Then, he chose not to stay by me when I was retrieving my belongings – instead, he yelled at me to hurry up and get back into the wheelchair because he “wanted to go home”. I guess he had a turkey dinner waiting for him.

Well, in my haste and confusion and with no assistance, my purse was stolen right off the line. My iPhone, iPod Touch, Surefire flashlight, wallet, cards, keys, sunglasses and my specially made reading glasses, all gone in a matter of seconds. Thankfully, they did NOT get my passport.

I was scared, devastated, crying, and helpless – and at the mercy of a negligent attendant who wanted nothing else but to go home on a Thanksgiving afternoon. I had no idea what to do.

But suddenly, happily, things began to turn around.

A very kind attendant relieved my surly guy, who apparently did go home. She then got her supervisor involved. Her name was Diane, she was an angel, and she ROCKED. She first apologized for her employee’s attitude and neglect. And in a kind act that astounded me, Diane reached into her purse and handed me $10. I KNEW she didn’t have that much money, and it was a big sacrifice on her part.

But the most important thing Diane did that day was letting me use her cell phone so I could do the best and most expedient thing I could think of. I sent out one desperate tweet about my predicament.

That tweet got the attention of friends and acquaintances, who offered help and moral support. My dear friends Lorraine and IdaRose sprang into action. Lorraine managed to cancel bank and credit cards, while IdaRose and her husband Neil arranged a cab (actually a white limo!) to pick me up at the airport to take me to their annual Thanksgiving feast. I was wined and dined and hugged many times that evening by a crowd of very supportive people, got to hang out with friends I love, and even had a night at a nearby hotel paid for so I could rest and recover from the day.

THAT is what I was thankful for on that Thanksgiving Day – and what I recall today with tears in my eyes.

Things are just things, life has its scary moments and hard times, but it’s people, in person and online, those in hugging distance, and those who offer them from afar, that make life worthwhile. 

Thanks again Diane, for making me feel I mattered when all I felt was lost. Thanks, Lorraine, IdaRose, and Neil, for being there when I needed you the most. Thanks to everyone who saw my tweet, tweeted, retweeted, and made my heart sing. Thanks also to my dear friends Dick (who left us this year) and Barbara, who have always given me a place to call home. I will never forget your love and support. And I’ll always try to pay it forward.

 

Saying Yes

This is Day Nine of my 30-day #NaBloPoMo commitment to write a blog post every day in November, and I must say I’m a bit fried, but also pretty pleased with myself.

It’s definitely not an easy exercise, but I’ve managed to come up with a topic every day so far. And today, my thoughts are revolving around a little gift I received the other night from a good friend.

It’s a little metal disc that sits comfortablty in the palm of your hand, with the word “Yes” etched on it.CAB_8777

It’s a reminder to me to be positive, no matter what life throws at me.

It’s “YES” to celebrating victories, large and small.

It’s “YES” to reaching out to friends (and friends I haven’t even made yet) for conversation, connection and support.

It’s “YES” to continuing to set goals and succeeding beyond my expectations.

It’s “YES” to simple pleasures, like strolling Vancouver’s magnificant seawall.

It’s “YES” to more hugs, and more laughter.

It’s “YES” to pursuing what I love and sharing my world in photos.

It’s “YES’ to me.

Thank you, Marc Smith. You have a good and expansive heart!

Oh, by the way – there is a “NO” on the flip side. But I haven’t bothered to turn it over.

 

Coming Back

It’s been a while since I’ve been here, but today seemed like a good day to come back.

I can’t believe it’s November already. The year has been hard and sad and challenging and heart-breaking and oddly peaceful and even joyful at times.

In January I went to visit my dearest friends Dick and Barbara after not seeing them for two years. And with that visit came the realization that Dick was dying. Although I knew deep down that it was only a matter of time before his ailing heart would give out, I wasn’t prepared for the small, frail, and greatly changed man I found.

I tried to articulate what I felt on Facebook:

“We all fear looking death in the face. We put it off, we make excuses, we hide. Even when it involves people we care for.

Then, a decision is made. We go to be with the friends who need us the most – and it’s not as scary, because you’re there, you’re hugging, even laughing, and you’re back into your usual life with them.

But you’re not. You know it’s different. You know there’s a finish line, somewhere. There are eggshells to walk on, even if you’re trying to remain ‘normal’. There is no normal.

And after I got back home to Vancouver, the reality hit me hard. That’s when I grieved for the man who introduced me to Judaism, who got me even more interested in politics, and who even taught me how to shoot a gun at an indoor range. It was a very sad spring for me.

And then in June, I was called back. An hour and a half after I arrived at the house, I watched Dick slip away, so quietly that for a moment I wasn’t sure he was gone. I told him that things would be OK, and that we’d all be there for Barbara. And I whispered the Shema in his ear – a prayer that is dear to the heart of every Jew. It was the last thing I could do for him.

He was buried on June 26th, his 75th birthday, with a flag-draped casket and military honours and many friends. He would have loved it!

I stayed on, helped out where I could, saw old friends and went to the synagogue where I always felt I belonged. It wasn’t always easy, but I’m happy and grateful I was there. As hard as it was, Barbara and I tackled a ton of challenges head on, got things done and laughed, a lot. I even got her on a Mac, for better or worse! I will treasure every minute I was there, and the deep and abiding friendship I have with a wonderful woman. I hated to leave.

And now I’m back home. It’s time to re-group. This post is the first step. In fact, I’m going to challenge myself to post every day this month as part of #NaBloPoMo something I’ve never done before.

It’s a scary prospect, but it’s a start to let everyone know I’m back. I’ll be showcasing my photography, checking out events in and around Vancouver, sharing my world with you, and ultimately, hopefully, building up enough presence again to help get the paid work I need and deserve. This gal’s not done yet!

Baby steps can lead to walking, then running. I will run, soon.

Wish me luck.

 

Nothing but Good – On Random Acts of Kindness

For most of this month, my very good friend Marc Smith has been engaging himself and a number of like-minded organizations and individuals in what he calls his #30DaysofKindness – the latest round of his 30DayAdventures. So far, Marc and friends have brought cookies and cheer to seniors, given away warm toques and socks to needy people on Vancouver’s Downtown East Side, handed out flowers to brighten up many commuters’ days, encouraged literacy among youth through book drives and writing tools, and so much more. This inspiring exercise in kindness is happening till mid-December, so feel free to visit Marc’s site, follow him on Twitter or friend him on Facebook if you want to learn more.

I’ve  known Marc for several years now, and I know about his kind heart and giving nature first-hand. In December 2010, Marc was part of an amazing team of people who helped to organize a fund-raiser for my late husband Dave and me when he was desperately ill in the hospital. It was an event that touched me and my entire family and will always be one of my most treasured memories.

That experience, and Marc’s wonderful work came back to me this past Thanksgiving, when a horrible day was turned around by several acts of kindness from not only friends, but total strangers.

When I left you at the end of the last post, I was stranded in a wheelchair at LAX, having just been informed by the very nice airport police that my stolen  purse and all its contents had not been found. I was at the mercy of a negligent wheelchair attendant who wanted nothing else but to go home on a Thanksgiving afternoon. I was devastated, scared and shaken. It was a Very Bad Day.

But suddenly, happily, things began to turn around.

A very kind attendant did relieve my surly guy, who apparently did go home. She then got her supervisor involved. Her name was Diane, she was an angel, and she ROCKED. She first apologized for her employee’s attitude and neglect. She had me meet with her boss, a lovely man, who also apologized profusely and sincerely. She let me use her cell phone so I could do the best and most expedient thing I could think of. I tweeted my predicament.

But the random act that I’ll most remember from Diane was the fact that she reached into her purse, and handed me $10. I KNEW she didn’t have that much money. I knew it was a big sacrifice on her part.  I cried as I took the money and thanked her. And I hugged her tightly when she dropped me off at my departure gate and told her I’d never forget her.

In the meantime, and through that flight to SFO, my tweet had gotten the attention of friends and acquaintances, who offered help and moral support. My dear friends Lorraine and IdaRose sprang into action. Lorraine managed to cancel bank and credit cards, while IdaRose and her husband Neil arranged a cab (actually a white limo!) to pick me up at the airport to take me to their annual Thanksgiving feast. I was wined and dined and hugged many times that evening by a crowd of very supportive people, got to hang out with the family pe, and even had a night at a nearby hotel paid for so I could rest and recover from the day. I was so very lucky.

And after the initial shock and mourning for my possessions in that bag, I again remembered Marc, and what he and others were doing for their community. For people.

THAT is what I was thankful for on Thanksgiving – the reminder that things are just things, life has its scary moments and hard times, but it’s people, in person and online, those in hugging distance, and those who offer them from afar, that make life worthwhile. Thanks Marc.

Thanks Diane, for making me feel I mattered when all I felt was lost. Thanks, Lorraine, IdaRose, and Neil, for being there when I needed you the most. Thanks, Dick and Barbara, for always giving me a place to call home. Thanks everyone, from the bottom of my heart.  I won’t forget your love and support.

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