The Beauty of Accepting Help

I could not have made it through this weekend without help.

My grandma passed away last week at age 95 in Missouri, where she had lived for over seventy years. To attend her funeral services I had to figure out how to get there with my limited physical abilities and my necessary medical equipment. 

My usual companion is my husband, Shawn, but he was unavailable to leave town. My parents were making the thirteen-hundred mile drive, but that would be five or six days in a car, round trip; not feasible for my schedule or my body!

My only other choice was flying, but I knew it would be near impossible to travel by myself. This is where the first helper stepped in - my sister, Kara. She found us flights leaving early Friday morning and returning late Sunday night and gladly agreed to haul my luggage and push my wheelchair in addition to managing her own belongings and her two-year-old son.

Upon arriving at the airport, it was clear that we were going to need help. 

Items to check:
- Kara's large suitcase
- Elliot's car seat
Items to carry on:
- My small suitcase
- My shoulder bag
- My BiPAP/Ventilator
- Kara's backpack
Items to gate-check:
- My folding wheelchair
- Elliot's stroller

After unloading at the curb, Kara alternated pushing me in my luggage-laden wheelchair and pushing the equally burdened stroller in the door while Elliot rested on her hip. We immediately drew attention when Kara's suitcase fell off the stroller with a crash and the car seat followed. A Delta employee named James met us with a smile saying, "Here. Let me help." He reset the car seat in the stroller, took over behind my chair, and rolled Kara's suitcase behind him as we made our way to the check-in counter. He patiently stood with us while we got our boarding passes and an unexpected seat upgrade. 

When James was pushing me to the elevator, my eyes began to tear up. Asking for and accepting help was not new, but this time I didn't have my power wheelchair and, instead, had to rely on someone else completely. I was suddenly overcome as I thought, I've lost my independence, and I'm at the mercy of so many people. 

I swallowed these feelings and cleared my eyes as James accompanied us through security after wheeling us to the front of the line. He didn't leave our sides until we were settled at the gate, and he faithfully returned when it was time to board, carefully maneuvering me down the jet way, ensuring my safety as I stepped onto the plane.

Once seated, I thought back to my tearful emotions and employed an already-established practice for getting me through tough times - gratitude.

I decided to start tracking the help I would receive on our trip, and I would give thanks for each person as I added them to my list.

Every time we moved, we had to depend on the kindness and generosity of others. There was Mike, a fellow passenger on our flight to Minneapolis, who carried one of our bags off the plane. Then we met another Delta employee (their Assistance Services were amazing!) who wheeled me to our connecting gate. When Kara and I went to buy a bottle of water, Mary Jo, a passerby, saw us struggling and offered to push me. When it was time to board at Minneapolis, we got to know Kimbro, a recent immigrant from Ethiopia. He was enthusiastic about his job with Delta and was eager to chat with us.

As we disembarked in Des Moines, Delta employees Andrea and Amanda were there to help us to the baggage claim area. Then they piled our luggage on a large cart, followed us out to the parking lot, and helped us load the (upgraded!) rental car.

On our return flight, it was a similar scene with familiar characters. Delta employees and fellow travelers were continuously by our sides, and some helpers came and went so quickly I didn't get a chance to get their names. 

Jimmy and Ms. Spencer brought us into the Des Moines airport and through security, Hazan cheerfully met us at the Minneapolis gate and quickly helped us across the entire terminal for our connecting flight, and when we had to change planes last minute due to a maintenance issue, two passengers (Brit and Court) saw our need and carried bags while Fartum wheeled me.  

Hazan helping us board our last flight.

When we finally landed in Bozeman an hour later than planned, Marcy and Jim were there to complete Delta's services. As I finished my list just before eleven pm last night, I counted seventeen people (four volunteers and thirteen Delta employees) who helped us on our way. 

Had we not accepted these offers of help, the burden would have fallen completely on Kara's and my shoulders, and we likely would have crumpled under the weight.

Instead, we opened our hearts and minds to accept the assistance of others. We shared smiles, handshakes, and conversation as we allowed ourselves to be enfolded in love.

How do you respond when someone offers help? What would happen if you graciously accepted it without feeling guilty, shameful or embarrassed?

Can you find the beauty in allowing others to assist you?

----
Some doorways from this week:

  • At my grandma's funeral services, there was a comforting wind blowing through the warm air. I felt the Spirit moving in those moments.
  • I mentor a young girl once a week who doesn't have a lot of material possessions. When I brought her a birthday gift, the joy and glow that surrounded her was endearing and beautiful.
  • I go to physical therapy once a week, but while on vacation I missed out on my sessions for two weeks in a row. When I returned, I found the healing power of therapy to be amazing.

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