‘I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ Maya Angelou
Today was one of those days where you are reminded of how important it is to simply be. And by that, I mean fully yourself and engaged in the present. Too much of life is spent chasing what is to come or what could have been and we miss the moments that are right in front of us.
Why did today stand out for me? Allow me to provide a little framework for you. We have been living in Australia for the past five years. Previous to that, we were in Canada (five years) and lived on a street called Whispering Water Bend in Elbow Valley. Many of you have heard me talk about our community and how much we loved living there. We had many friends in that neighbourhood and people who became more like family than friends. The community was designed to allow free flow connectivity which meant none of us had fences around our property. At first, this was a bit daunting, knowing that everyone (if they wanted) could have a bird’s eye view into your home and much of your life. After a while, it became so natural that we didn’t even realise how connected we were.
Between us and the next row of houses, there was a small dip and a little incline up to the houses and the house just to the right of ours was our friends the T’s. They were a young family with two gorgeous boys who were part of the neighbourhood pack. They were probably the youngest of the bunch although their eldest and Ella were the same age. They were the cutest French Canadian boys with their blonde hair, sweet accents and robust personalities.
N (as I refer to him), the eldest of the brothers who, as I mentioned, was the same age as Ella was 3 or 4 when we first moved into the neighbourhood and 9 when we moved out. N loved my cooking and he especially loved my Saturday morning pancakes and most Saturday he could be found on our deck peeking through the window hoping for someone to be up and gently knocking in an effort to come in and join us for what I learned, from his mum, was usually his second breakfast. We always made sure there were extra pancakes for our little visitor and he warmed my heart every time I saw him at the door. It didn’t matter what season either. It could be -25 and there his sweet face was, knocking at the glass door.
Today as I sat about my work day my phone rang and up came a number from Canada. At first, I wasn’t going to answer, thinking it was probably some telemarketer but curiosity got the best of me. I answered and all I heard was, ‘Hello, Miss Susan, it’s N.’ My heart melted and I was immediately transported back to my kitchen bench on Whispering Water Bend with this sweet boy knocking at my door.
We had the best chat. He told me about his school and how much he likes Grade 7. He told me that his little brother, H, was ranked #2 in B.C. for tennis. He told me about his swimming, rugby and every other sport he was in. We had the most incredible conversation and I was so happy to hear this sweet, confident, articulate boy on the other end of the phone. He told me he had been scrolling through my Instagram photos and missed me so wanted to call me. He asked if he could call again on the weekend and talk to Ella and chat with us more regularly. To which I replied, ‘of course, we would love it.’
Now I know I sound like I’m 85 right now but his call made me reflect on life and the quote from Maya Angelou above. N probably doesn’t remember many of the conversations or chats we had when he was little but he must have remembered how we made him feel in our home. He was welcomed, he was cherished and he was loved. And today, through our short conversation before his swimming lesson that was prompted by my Instagram account, he paid that forward in such a rich way. The words we exchanged were simple updates about life and what he was doing but the bigger thing that happened, he made me feel wonderful. He reminded me of how much being present to presence matters.
I think I needed that reminder today. I’ve been busy and almost too busy to even take the call from the unknown Canadian number. Imagine what I would have missed had I ignored the call of presence.
Thank you, N.