Sunday, April 6, 2014

Pay It Forward

“Pay It Forward”, that’s what a friend told me one day. This is from a friend who had unexpectedly come through at a time when I needed it the most. I am thankful for these small blessings. During the ups and downs of our lives, we appreciate those times when somebody helps you up, just like an angel sent from above.

Paying it Forward means to repay someone’s kindness by being kind to someone else instead of the original benefactor. The phrase is credited to Lily Hardy Harmond who wrote in her 1916 book In the Garden of Delight: “You don’t pay love back, you pay it forward”.

Kindness gone viral. Goodness manifested several times over. Love being paid forward.

In the movie adapted from a Catherine Ryan Hyde book, the protagonist did three good deeds and asked the beneficiaries to do three good deeds to others.

Just after I finished high school, my Auntie Sol was that angel who helped me financially to start my Nursing course. I haven’t thanked her enough, but I truly appreciated her gesture to start me on my way. And in my own little way, I paid it forward.

Just like most Filipinos I know, the older siblings helped the younger ones and their less fortunate relatives. In a society where most families live a hand-to-mouth existence, education is considered a way out of continued poverty. It has been expected that the generosity be paid forward. My sister sponsors the education of my niece and another cousin’s offspring.

I am now mentoring a nursing student today for her graduate studies. To my pleasant surprise, her class professor turned out to be my own mentor in my Capstone project for my Masters class. This time, the loop had gone full circle.

There will always be a chance to be kind to others; a moment to pay it forward. There will always be that opportunity to extend a helping hand. To be a saving grace, an angel, a mentor.

The gesture need not be grandiose, but for that someone in need, that very well could be exactly just what they needed to turn their life around. Everyone just needs that fighting chance, and a helping hand makes it much easier to hope for a better tomorrow. An open door perhaps, a reprieve from a difficult time, a reminder that faith make things right.

Here are several heart-tugging examples:

Derrick Walton, once homeless himself, had turned his life around and now owns a pizzeria in Iowa. He closes his restaurant on Mondays to serve free food to those in need.

An 8 y/o boy, from Ohio found a $20 bill and gave it to a military airman. Myles Eckart, whose father died in service just before he was born, wrapped the money in a note that read: 'Dear soldier, my dad was a soldier. He's in heaven now. I found this $20 in the parking lot when we got here. We like to pay it forward in my family. It's your lucky day! Thank you for your service.' Signed, 'a Gold Star kid.'

That simple act has launched a $1 million grant to help the children of soldiers killed in war.

After Myles honored his father's memory at the restaurant, he asked his mother to bring him to his daddy's grave. How poignant this scene is, that of a son proudly telling his father of his good deed for the day.