Tuesday, July 17, 2012

What difference can we possibly make?

My grandparents lived in the woods. The driveway was long and winding, the crunch of the gravel beneath the wheels of a car welcoming visitors. A modest house surrounded by trees. Lots and lots of trees.

There would come a time when the trees, as they are known to do, would drop their leaves. All of them. Leaving my grandparents surrounded by thick blankets of oak leaves. As children we would trudge through the yard, leaves up to our knees, happily crunching and kicking our way around.

Inevitably, my grandmother would want to rake the lawn. Rake it. As in, physically remove gazillions of leaves from (what looked like to me) thousands of trees. Impossible. Absolutely, positively, impossible.

Then the caravan of cars would make its way up the drive. Aunts, uncles, cousins.... one by one exiting their cars to grab the rakes and tarps and garbage bags from the trunks.

I remember thinking the same exact thoughts every season, as I stood surveying the impossible task set before us:

1. This is too big of a job for just us.
2. What difference can we possibly make?

Then we would begin. We would all rake, little kids would scoop leaves in garbage cans, strong uncles would pull overflowing tarps to the burn pile, the aunts and big kids raking in a long line across the yard. It would seem to me we'd work all morning long and nothing would have been accomplished. We'd eat sandwiches with our earthy smelling hands, noses sniffling, palms pulsating where blisters would surely appear. And I'd look out over the yard still filled with way too many leaves and think, what a joke. We've barely made a dent in this.

Then the grown-ups would declare our break time over. And we'd continue.

Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn. Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn. Rake. Pick up. Move. Dump. Burn.

But then.... then we'd get to this point somehow, without really knowing when or how --- this point where suddenly, there were less leaves and more visible grass. Smooth, healthy grass thanking us for our hard work. And, sure, there might have been a ton of leaves left to rake up, but we were here: making a difference. And it would dawn on me: there is no job too big for us. As long as we all chip in a little to help. Together we can actually make a pretty big difference after all.

My grandfather passed away in the modest home in the woods. From cancer. I can't forget the image I have  of him lying way too still on the couch, facing the big windows that looked out over the woods and down to the creek that flowed peacefully below. I know how much he would have rather been raking up those leaves with us.

My grandfather taught us that many hands make light work. That we were put on this planet to help one another and that's just the way it should be. And I think he was right.

Please donate just 99 cents (many hands make light work) to the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

To donate, please use this direct link  or the PayPal button on the right side of this blog post.

All proceeds will go to the Walworth County Cloggers' 2012 Relay For Life Team to benefit the American Cancer Society.

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