Generous—liberal in giving or sharing. It is marked by abundance. Such is the definition of generosity.
How many generous people do you know? What are their characteristics? Do you know any unhappy generous people? I think not.
My wife’s grandmother, Mildred, was 91 when she passed away. She grew up during the Great Depression. By the time I met her, she was already quite bent by the throes of age and osteoporosis. Her scattered gray hair was matched by steely blue eyes.
She lived on Social Security and a small pension. She got meals on wheels but never failed to save the aluminum foil packing the meal. By the time she moved, she had thousands of aluminum foil balls.
I always enjoyed being around her. She told stories. She told us how, during the Depression, it was not uncommon for some stranger to show up at their door asking for work or a meal. While they didn’t have work, she remembers that her mom never turned down a request for a meal. There was always a pot simmering on the back of the stove for such a visitor.
While Mildred never achieved fame, wrote a book, appeared on the silver screen, or became the CEO of some mega corporation, she achieved much more. She earned the respect, admiration and love of her family, her friends and her community. In my own family’s life, she volunteered at 83 to come help my wife after our first child’s birth. She gave herself. She repeated the act when our second child came.
And when she could no longer handle physical work, she wrote letters—long, scratchy, beautiful letters telling of her praise for her granddaughter and great-grandchildren. We enjoyed getting those letters. Who can resist someone who expresses love so freely?
Those letters stand today like proud epitaphs of her life? I wonder how mine will read.
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Published September 10, 2010