Changing for the better at 85
It's my dad's 85th birthday this October 17, the day after Zoe-Pascale's birthday. She was his present seven years ago. My family had a party for him this week which we were unable to attend but we were there in spirit. The next day mom read to us on the webcam Dad's speech at the party. (He always has her read his poems and speeches as he would cry.. We love him for that!) The story as told touched my heart so deeply that I wanted to share it with you as well. I'm hoping that you enjoy it and are moved by it as I was.
Speech told to friends and family at 85th Birthday party
I want to tell you all a true story about at my age you can change things for the better. On Monday August 14th, Cynthia , Marilyn and I went to the horse races. Not much luck but we had fun and after the races we went over to the Hilton Hotel for happy hour. Half price appetizers and drinks. We had shirmp cocktails, mini hamburgers and quesadillas. As we went to pay, the waiter told us that the man sitting at the end of the bar picked up the tab. I couldn't believe it and so I went over to thank him and ask him why he did it. He said he had a good day at the races and we seemed to be having such a nice time he just wanted to pay the bill. I thought okay, if we were three young good looking girls I could understand but two 80 year olds and a 50ish year old woman, that was different.
The next few days I kept thinking about it and how rare something like that happens. The following Friday, Marilyn went to the haridresser and I went to the beach for breakfast and a walk. I made up my mind I was going to start something new, at least for me. I have never been generous with homeless people no matter what the reason for it, but now I was on the lookout for someone who I could help in some way. The beach is a good place for that as there are a lot of homeless people around the beach. I found a middle aged man with two paper bags full of what was probably most of his possessions. I stopped, said hello and asked him if he had had breakfast? He gave a little smile and said "Not today." I handed him $5 and he looked up at me, thanked me, said "God Bless You," and gave a little wave goodbye. I continued on with my walka little lighter and feeling good. On the way home at a stop sign was a man carrying a sign, "I work for food." Whether or not he really did I handed him a dollar. I realized that I had never felt so good before giving away a dollar.
Since then I find myself handing out a dollar to everyone I pass up who is asking for help. So maybe it costs me $20 or $30 a month. I waste more than that each month. I never mentioned this to Marilyn and as the days went by and she saw me giving away dollar bills, she commented. "That's very nice of you Jerry." But I think she wondered truly what had gotten into me. Morgan, my granddaughter was with me one day when I gave away a dollar. I know she also wondered what is he doing? I never mentioned to anyone what I was doing I just kept doing it and they probably kept wondering, is he okay? Today I wanted you all to know that I have made up my mind that I am not passing up any homeless person. I have received more "God Bless You's " than dozens of sneezes could have ever produced.
My 85th birthday present to myself and others is to share with strangers in need as well as with my family and friends. I love you all!
Jerry Saxe, age 85
When I heard this story I was so choked up I could cry. I remembered back to walking through Prague with Zoe-Pascale and how all she wanted to do was to give money away to the beggars on the streets. We finally worked out a system with her that if they were working for money by singing or playing an instrument she could give them some change. I wonder now would it have been so bad to let her have $20 to give away to everyone she saw who asked for it. It makes me wonder, however why a child and an 85 year old man can have the same attitude towards being generous to those who have less than we do and something happens in between. We get stingy, we get pissed that others aren't working too, we have judgements, we forget. I wonder if the world would be a better place if we were more generous with those in need throughout our lives.
This week I was reading a story to Zoe about Rosh Hashanah and it said that during the Jewish New Years and Shabbat is the time to be generous and give to those in need; to do a mitzvah. So this week I to have decided to give generously. A homeless man in Uzes I never saw before was sitting on the street. I walked by and then turned back and gave him a Euro and in return I also received a french version of "God Bless You." I also walked away a little lighter and feeling good the rest of the day. Maybe, just maybe once a week on Shabbat is a good time to practice generosity and we will all have a better day because of it.