Many years ago our grandmother had a friend named Leeza that we enjoyed visiting with, she was funny, interesting and animated.
Leeza had recovered from breast cancer three times and spent her life savings paying for expensive medications and treatment.
The fourth time Leeza was diagnosed would eventually take her life and, her savings forcing her to move from her luxury retirement community to the Salvation Army Nursing home here in Fort Worth.
My twin sister, Cindy Daniel took the little Pawners Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney to bring nightgowns and blankets to Leeza.
I was working for Cadillac and Texas Patios, you see a weak economy forced my brother in law to take a job with KBR in Iraq at Camp Anaconda and, had left my husband unemployed after a real estate crash. My entire family was forced into a struggle to keep our heads above water and, my sister had been forced to leave her job in order to care for the tiny Texas Twins full time.
I remember her calling to tell me that the seniors had no robes or nightclothes as they were just left at the home with the clothes on their backs!
Horrified, she began a mission of going to thrift shops and purchasing robes in every size and slippers for these forgotten folks that cried out “oh you came to see me! I’ve been waiting so long for a friend thank you!”
While we have always been involved in numerous charities and food drives, the true joy of having a visit from a stranger would break your heart! The gift of a warm robe or slippers, board games and two darling twins coloring with them or singing and dancing was perhaps the most amazing thing my sister had ever seen.
Rather than washing and wrapping these items and attaching names, she attached the size to ensure by looking at each person we are somewhat close to the actual sizes.
My son often went to the Alzheimer’s Home with me while taking piano lessons and would practice with the residents mesmerized to hear the music he played. Once, a lady had a bottle of nail polish that she handed him. He looked at me and said Mom I think she wants me to paint her nails, and he did. For over three hours both my son and I painted all the ladies nails and combed the gentleman’s hair at Barton House. You see, the non clinical touch of a visit, the chance to see someone new and experience something different changes the entire routine they have everyday and the smiles, the joy, the gratitude will change YOU!
Every year my twin sister starts shopping for winter sweaters, robes, slippers and blankets for the Salvation Army Seniors.
Not many are aware that the Salvation Army not only has programs for rehabilitating others but also for housing those who have nowhere to go!
What do you have to offer these forgotten folks? Yourself my friend. Do you play an instrument? Would you like to go play cards? Dominos? Or paint? Do you have unwanted books, cassettes or records? Its so easy to change someone’s life by simple reaching back to grab their hand and help them get back up on their feet.
The little Pawners, Maryssa and Makenna Mahaney love to dress up in their elf costumes that are handcrafted by my talented sister and pay a surprise visit to a group of seniors that stand in doorways looking for a visit from their families that may never come. They also love to hand out toys at area schools for children who otherwise would have no gifts.
Every year McBee Homes has a golf tournament to raise money to buy groceries for schools that provide a list of needy families. Mearl McBee started this tradition to give back to his childhood school. The entire company participates in this event, my husband Matthew told me how heartbreaking it was to see people living in homes with no doors and one with no windows! He cried telling me how grateful these people were that food would be on their tables, Mearl McBee came up with this idea that has helped many and continues to in his childhood community.
Cindy and I donate money to area schools to ensure that EVERY child at Austin Elementary has the needed funds for a field trip. You may not know that those who don’t, must stay in the library simply because their family had no money for such luxuries.
The Texas Twins, all four of us will greatly miss Leeza, the beloved Lady Gretta Ozee whom our tiny Twins called “Big Momma.” We’ve lost many to a dreaded disease that continues to take many women each year from their families.
Leeza’s death gave us insight to the despair of seniors and, expanded our involvement in the community to add these wonderful people to our circle of civic responsibility. You see, had Leeza never been sent to the Salvation Senior Center- we would never know of their plight. We would never know how to help, Leeza is the reason we saw a need, and I believe that even now she is smiling as my sister wraps the packages to gift these thankful folks another year in Fort Worth, TX.
As I review finances for blankets, sleeping bags, and coats we hand out to the homeless it occurs to me that many of us are capable of doing so much for so many without even realizing our own potential.
I’ve stated many times throughout my life that my twin and I are the people we never met, this couldn’t be more accurate! We are who we are because failure was never an option, we struggled and we survived and, in doing so- WE REACHED BACK to help as many others as our hands could possibly touch.
We’ve raised our children to do the same and, I believe the best legacy we will leave will be that of love, generosity and kindness to be handed down to their children.
What have you done for a stranger my friend? What can you do? Use your imagination to help others in your own community, don’t simply send a check not knowing how it will be spent. Support your own neighborhood and, whenever possible shop locally with family owned and operated businesses.
This holiday season as we prepare to face another year with our families and friends, let’s take a moment to he thankful for what we have, what we are capable of achieving and, let’s understand that together, we are all Gods children regardless of the circumstances and obstacles life has thrown at us, we are survivors and together we can make a difference by gracing the life of another with a caring heart.