On Thursdays Rachel and I had the habit of going to free skate. I would pick up her skating friend Amber and we would go so they would have time to practice their figure skating. Being in the morning, usually the only other people present for the 1½ hrs were senior citizens and parents with preschoolers. This is our second year participating in this free skate so we know pretty well the regulars, although we've never really chatted with them. One man in particular, a senior, was almost always there. He is a fabulous skater and would weave in and out of the others, doing funny moves on the ice. This year he would have the habit of greeting me when he or we arrived by a nod of the head or a wave or quick hello as he skated by. He would do the same when leaving. The last free skate before Christmas he came up to me and shook my hand, wishing me a very Merry Christmas. I was touched by this and often remarked to Katherine that we always greet and say good bye to each other but have never actually met or talked together. This has been made even harder due to the fact that apart from a couple of times, because of my tiredness caused by chemo this year, I usually have skipped the skating part and sat and read a book while watching the girls do their routines.
Well, this past Thursday was different. It was the last free skate. My regular friend was there once more. However, this time rather than waving from a distance, he actually came up to where I was sitting in the bleachers and shook my hand. He said he just wanted to thank me - thank me for my smile. He said that every time he would come to free skate and would wave to me and I would wave back and smile, it just made his day. My smile encouraged and warmed his heart. Needless to say, I was very surprised. I responded by thanking him and then mentionned to him the reason I was no longer skating very often with the girls - because of my cancer and chemo. Now it was his turn to be surprised. Then he proceeded to tell me about his wife who had been sick and whom he nursed and took care of for the last year of her life. He shared that he had been with her the day she passed away. He added that some time afterwards, while he was here at the arena for free skate, he just started weeping, and felt overcome with grief. That was when he decided to seek the help of a counsellor. With this help he was able to work through and overcome his grief for the loss of his wife. One of the tidbits of advice his counsellor had given him was to find some way to invest in other people and somehow make their lives better. In doing so, he wouldn't be focused on his own pain but could focus on someone else in a positive way. So he shared that each time he would come to free skate, he would do so with the intention of cheering someone up, or making them laugh; some way to make their life a little happier. WOW! And when he greeted me and I appreciated it and smiled back, that just blessed his heart also. That was why he wanted to thank me.
He went on to skate and have fun on the ice, I went back to my book and watching the girls. But this time, when it was time to go and he saw we were leaving, he came off the ice, directly to me and said: "I just want to give you a hug". And that is what he did and wished me well for the rest of my treatment and for a great summer. I was blessed!
I was reminded of that verse that says it is more blessed to give than to receive. What an example of this in this situation. He gave, which encouraged me to give back and we were both truly blessed. So smile at someone today - you'll never know how much it could meet a need, warm their heart and be a blessing for them.