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My future husband Edgar and I had gone to see my brother Mell, who was living in a small coastal town called Cambria, California. This small community is known for its artist, good food and wine, and mild temperatures. This particular night, my brother and his partner had taken Edgar and I to (arguably) the best restaurant in town, and when the bill came, we delightfully became aware that we were being treated by my brother! When I saw the pleasure on Mell’s face as he paid our server, I put up little resistance. The following morning, at Mell’s suggestion, we had breakfast at a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating and a wonderful view. When the bill came I was sure to be quick to grab it and when I did, Mell put up an argument as to why he should pay it. Here’s what I said to him; “Do you remember last night when we enjoyed dinner together?” He nodded his head. I ask, “Do you also remember that you gifted our delicious meal to us?” This time when he nodded his head, a big smile came over his face. I had one more question for him, “Do you want to deprive me of the pleasure you enjoyed last night in being generous?” He shook his head in a knowing way.

We all love to give, but have you ever wondered why? Here’s an interesting idea! What if the act of giving is instinctual? We often hear about the “survival instinct”, but what about the “giving instinct”? Perhaps this explains why a person can run towards a danger or jumps in the turbulent waters of a river to save a drowning person. They are giving of their aid. Sure, some of us have a stronger instinct than others, but I would argue that we all have it.

Having an innate instinct to give may be why the act is so satisfying, especially when we couple it with love. That is why I have been thinking about it so much lately and looking for more ways I can give. Sure, I’ve been giving more to organizations whose work I admire and believe in, but I have much more to give than just my money. In fact, I bet that I can easily come up with a hundred ways to give! Just a simple smile is a gift, is it not?

The gift of my assistance at end of life benefits the dying person and family, but I am clear that I get untold gifts in the process. Knowing that my help makes a difference in other’s lives fills my soul with immeasurable joy.

So what I have shared here with you has brought me to this announcement; I will no longer accept a fee for the help I give the dying person and family. I believe that all the years of my nursing career and the years as a hospice nurse and the personal losses of loved ones have prepared me to have the gifts that I am able to offer at this time in my life. Because I understand the gifts in giving-and I would not wish to deprive this from others-I accept gifts. Therefore, a family may sponsor a future family, and even do so in their beloved’s name. Paying (for my assistance )”forward” allows them to be givers also! However, at no time will this be necessary.

“The gift is to the giver and comes back most to him (her).” Walt Whitman




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