Sunday, October 25, 2009

Big hug

A big thank you to those who participated in the fund-raiser last night. That includes Erin and Pat, who organized it, and Erin's family and all the friends, family and neighbors who came and/or donated. There were two tables of incredible raffle prizes, plus music, dancing and a buffet. I am still overwhelmed. Although Dr. Alyea had advised against it, there were lots of hugs and kisses. It couldn't be helped, and it was good medicine.

To back up: I met Erin Kelly in 2003 while healing from my first round of treatment for leukemia. I attended a class at her Ahimsa Yoga Center here in South Hadley, and found it calming and rejuvenating. I've continued going to class (except for now when I'm not allowed in an inside group), and we've become good friends.

Months ago, she sat at my kitchen table and asked, "How would you feel if we put on a benefit for you?" My answer: "Embarrassed."

Over tea one day, I had told her this saga: I had recently been terminated by The Republican newspaper and had begun paying the high premium for my insurance through COBRA. The newspaper "terminated" me at the end of June at the same time as they laid off about a dozen employees. All of them got severance packages, but I got nothing because they said that technically, they only needed to hold my job for 12 weeks. I gave 25 years of good service, but because I got sick, I walked away with nothing. I was devastated. I don't know when I can begin looking for a job, and I can't collect unemployment until I can look for work. I do get Social Security. I didn't mean to go into this, but it provides background on the fund-raiser. Also, seeing the work people, both employed and unemployed, brings it back.

I had told Erin about my worries, and she and her neighbor, Pat, started talking about the idea of a fund-raiser. I told her that I didn't want it to seem like I was asking for money. She said that people like to do this kind of thing, that it brings the community together. "Just think of it as a big hug," she said.

Because of the embarrassment factor, originally I had hoped I wouldn't be allowed to go. But Dr. Alyea gave the green light, and the more I thought about, the more I liked the idea of seeing many of my friends.

Margaret came that afternoon to go with me and hold my hand. As she drove me to the Holyoke Country Club in the pouring rain, I began to whine. "Nobody's going to come," I said. "It will be so pathetic." (Thanks Margaret for keeping me from going over the edge.)

We drove down a dark, winding road and suddenly saw twinkling lights up ahead. As we drove up, we saw lots and lots of cars. The lights were decorating the entrance to the function room. The sound of music, laughter and talking came through the windows. There were lots of people inside.

Erin greeted me at the door with a corsage. I looked around and was astonished to see so many friends from the community along with friends from work, tennis and baseball (from Joe and Ben). Diane and David came, and it was good to see them too.

Everything went off without a hitch. In addition to being a warm, generous soul, Erin is a good organizer. She told me today that 167 people attended.

I'm not sure what I'll do with the money, but I have so many bills to pay, I'm sure it will go to good use. Plus I might buy myself one tiny little treat. (You know, good for the healing process also.)

I was pretty tired by the end of the night, but it did feel good, like a big hug.


susiegb said...

Oh Ronni - how wonderful! I had no idea! I couldn't have come all the way from Oz anyway, but - I'm just touched and so pleased that your friends and family did this for you!!

(((BIG smiles and hugs )))

Susan C said...

Wow! How wonderful when the community pulls together that way. I wish I could have been there.

donna said...

It was so much fun! I was so glad that you could attend. (I thought you wouldn't be allowed to) And it was great to finally meet your friend Margaret. I hope you got out for a walk the next day - it was so beautiful. Lookin' good Ron!!!

Marilyn said...

I, a hermit by nature, am guilty of not appreciating those who are moved to pull together such things, but over the years I've come to see the important role they play. I'm so glad your friends did this and I'm so glad you let them, and even pushed past the awkward feeling and went. Where would we be without friends of ALL types?

Diane said...

It was wonderful to celebrate you with people from all different walks of your life. Seeing all of the love for you - in the people who attended, in the raffle prizes, and in the spirit of the crowd - brought tears to my eyes!

PJ said...

That sounded like a lot of fun. I'm glad it was a great success and that you enjoyed yourself.

Meryl said...

Ronni: It was a great party and a good time for all. I couldn't believe how many people were dancing. And the food was excellent too. I'm so glad you put aside your embarrassment and got into the groove. It was well worth it for all of us. It makes your friends feel good when they can give!


Nelle said...

I am sure they were happy to do this for you. We all need help at one time or another and I'm sure you were there to help others at another time. I like that it felt like a big hug. Enjoy the memories!

Anonymous said...

So glad things are going well. Keep fighting and stay strong and positive!

Jim said...

Wow, Ronni. The power of love. What blessings! Jim

Lori said...

It was truly a wonderful evening for those who attended also. You looked absolutely terrific; gracious and beaming with delight! I am so impressed with your spirit and honesty. I'm looking through my recipes and will be cooking up some Fall specialties for you soon!
It was great meeting and speaking with Diane. A big thank you to Erin for organizing this lovely night!

Margaret said...

Ronni, Saturday night proved it: you are the Queen of Hearts! Everyone in the room was delighted to return a bit of the friendship and good grace you have given us through sickness and health. A treat is definitely in order when you spend your money. It was great to meet Donna and re-meet Deb.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a wonderful time!! Can't wait to see you! Are there pictures?