Today I had the opportunity to share in a very special random act of kindness; one not of my own, but of a friend. Pam Larson, one of my high school gal pals from two decades ago, reached out to me and asked if I’d like to share in doing something in memory of her mom, Patricia. On this date fourteen years ago, Patricia closed the chapter on this life as she passed away from congestive heart failure at the age of 54. She had many medical issues in the ten years leading up to her death: kidney transplant, quadruple bypass surgery, squamous cell carcinoma in her sinus cavity… not to mention other complications and setbacks along the way. To say Patricia was a fighter, is an understatement. She gave all she had, again and again, just to have as much time as possible with her family.
Patricia also spent A LOT of time in the hospital. Her sunny disposition was a bright spot through all the trials. In fact, one of her favorite songs was “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” by Bobby McFerrin, an upbeat song released in 1988, two years prior to Patricia’s kidney transplant.
It was in that spirit of celebrating joy instead of sadness that Pam asked me to join her today’s RAK. We brainstormed a bit about what we could do (thankfully, Pam didn’t have 14 inches of hair to cut and donate because that might have ended up with her needing a wig, lol.) We finally decided that delivering 14 smiley faced balloons to the cardiac unit of the local hospital would be a welcome surprise to bless others and share Pam’s story of honoring her mom’s memory.
Our first stop was purchasing the balloons. Pam and I were almost giddy watching the store associate blow up each balloon, floating to the ceiling of the store, its long white curling ribbon trailing down to our eager fingertips reaching above. Before leaving the store, we taped a memorial RAK card to each balloon so the recipients would know more about this special RAK.
The RAK card included this quote by John Barrymore: “Happiness often sneaks through a door you didn’t know you left open.” We thought this would be a great quote because these happy balloons would be sneaking into the rooms of 14 different people! 🙂
Our next task was somehow getting all 14 balloons in Pam’s very compact car. Below are the photos from THAT adventure (so much laughter!)
As we headed to the hospital, Pam reflected on various stories about her mom. It was a sweet time of remembrance and I knew that her mom would have loved what we were doing in her memory.
We arrived at the hospital and walked towards the entrance, the wind whipping the balloons all around us. Have you ever had to carry so many balloons at once on a windy day? It is NOT an easy task, let me assure you! We approached the main desk and were directed to the cardiac unit on the second floor. It was time to share some joy with others!
The head nurse of the cardiac unit intercepted us almost immediately. “How can I help you?” she asked with quizzical smile. Pam explained our purpose: that her mom had passed away 14 years ago and she wanted to honor her memory by making 14 people smile with an unexpected surprise. The nurse informed us (after checking with her supervisor) that we would not be allowed to enter the rooms, but she would peek in her patients’ rooms and if they had a visitor, she would ask if the visitor wanted to step out in the hallway to receive a balloon from us.
Before she could finish her explanation, one such visitor stepped out of a patient’s room and said, “I would love to bring in a balloon!” Our first RAK! We were thrilled! As we giggled to one another, we realized we had a bit of a quandary… all 14 balloons were in a tangled mess from the wind blowing outside. Although it only took a few minutes to separate a balloon, it felt like an eternity with this hospital visitor standing beside us waiting. Thankfully she was patient (a hospital pun for you medical people out there, lol) and after accepting and delivering our very first balloon, she returned to the hallway to hug Pam and pose for a picture.
It wasn’t too long before Pam spotted a visitor walking down the hall. “Excuse me, ma’am, are you visiting someone today?” The lady smiled warily before she responded, “Yeeeeessssss”, then her smile spread across her face as Pam told her about the meaning behind the smiley balloon. This lady stopped. Listened. Hugged. She even added her own thoughts about this experience. “We each have two dates – the day we are born and the day we die. Then we have this line in between. What you do during this line is what matters. This is your purpose. And what you are doing today is part of your purpose.” These words nearly opened the floodgates for sure!
There were more hugs. More smiles. I am convinced that just walking around with a smiley faced balloon in hand can make people happy. We saw so much joy in the eyes of others today! We were also able to share a few balloons with the oncology patients, too – a perfect place to continue our RAK in Patricia’s memory.
When all 14 balloons had been given away, we left empty-handed, but our hearts were full of joy. Pam told me on the way out of the hospital, “You know – this is the first time I have ever been happy on April 27. Usually I am so sad and depressed, missing my mom, but today I know she is smiling down on us. She would have LOVED this!”
So essentially… it was a healing RAK for Pam, too. 🙂
Be encouraged my friends to share your joy with others, even if it takes you a little bit out of your comfort zone. I promise the rewards will multiply as others pay-it-forward, too!
As always, thanks for reading and sharing in my fun-filled RAK adventures!