Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

Contact Me

Any time - drop me an email
miriamhendeles@gmail.com
1-323-243-7116

[breadcrumbs]

It Takes a Village – Endless Kindness

Stuff to Be Kind

By M. Hendeles (lyrics); A. Kaufman (vocals, recording); Jana Stanfield - music

Last week my husband sponsored  a kiddush reception for all our friends and relatives at our synagogue on Shabbos. The reception was a come and go type of event and the purpose was to give thanks to everyone  – our entire community, friends, relatives and acquaintance –for their help to our family and especially me during my recuperation from several foot surgeries the past 9 months. Now that I’m doing much better and walking, we wanted to give public thanks to Hashem as well. Many friends showed up and it felt good to have a tangible way for closure to an period in our lives that was challenging. During those months, I lost the ability to walk and get around. But I also discovered a lot of love and kindness around me.

One of the things my husband said during his short two-minute blurb or speech was that people came through for me in our community in amazing ways. And “just when Miriam was about to lose it, someone always came through by visiting, cheering her up or cooking a meal…” I laughed at his wording; did I really “almost lose it?”  He was trying to convey how much everyone really helped out and in his effort to do so, he may have exaggerated a bit about my situation. But did he exaggerate? I thought about it for a minute.

No, he did not exaggerate.

Truth is, when I thought about it, I realized that yes, I did almost “lose it” many times. I recall the time I had a serious meltdown on my way to the bathroom when it took me ten minutes to get there and everything was hurting me. I began to cry hysterically and my thoughts revolved around things like “I’m dying, they’re not telling me, they’re keeping it a secret from me, but I’m really seriously dying…”

Shortly afterward, a friend texted me “hey, Miriam can I bring you an Ice-Blended from the Coffee Bean?” A light in the darkness is how I viewed the text and I answered “Yeah, I’d love that…”

Things like that happened throughout the time of my ups and downs and complications. There was the friend from NYC who was visiting her own children in LA where I live, and she came by to visit, bringing me needlepoint projects to do. She also brought CD’s of classical music spanning composers from Bach all the way to Rachmaninoff. Listening to that music over the next few weeks made me feel like I was back in music school, and took my mind off my pains and complaints.

ACTS OF KINDNESS

Other friends cooked for us huge  gourmet meals (did I mention my husband and I are empty-nesters and we are only TWO people?), and still others went shopping for me. I received constant texts from friends to the tune of “Miriam, I’m at Costco – what do you need?” or “I”m at Target, can I get you something?” or “I’m going to the market tomorrow, call in an order and I’ll pick it up for you..”

One friend came by and played her cello for me, and another friend sent me a bunch of you-tube clips of Brahms  symphonies and sonatas so I could divert my mind to something outside my own pains. Just to cheer me up.

My daughters-in-law ran errands for me, and brought the kids over to visit and watch videos together with me. One DIL brought me a book of crossword puzzles and some friends sent balloons and flowers and cards. On Shabbos afternoon, friends and neighbors came by to keep me company, and while I had my leg raised on 8 or 9 pillows, these friends shmoozed, laughed, listened and cared. It was truly magical.

When I needed to go to the doctor, and my husband was at work and couldn’t drive me, a friend or relative would come by and give me a ride. Our community has an organization called Bikur Cholim  which provided drivers for me when I needed a lift.

What did all this teach me? The power of love. The power of giving. The importance of visiting someone who is not well. The creativity that one can use when trying to help someone else. Whereas some people are cookers, others may be drivers, and yet others may be visitors. Some just wrote emails or texts and others called to check in. There’s no one way to do a kindness. It’s all good.

Thankfully, now I’m better and I am on the other side of fence, helping others when I can. I’m able to drive, walk, cook and visit others. I feel so blessed to have reached this point. But I will never forget the feeling of helplessness of needing, because that feeling of “losing it” is the rock bottom that made me appreciate the kindness even more so.

While I was in bed, I did some composing, and one of the songs I wrote is featured at the beginning of this post. I hope you enjoy it. It’s called:

“Stuff to Be Kind” – lyrics composed by yours truly

Vocals by Arthur Kaufman; and Music by Jana Stanfield (“If I were Brave”)

 

 


Top 10 Tips for Visiting Sick People

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Visiting the sick is an art, not a science. In Hebrew, we call this act of performing any kindness to family of sick people– bikur cholim.  Recently, I have been laid up in bed for many months, due to a broken ankle, and I have been the recipient of this mitzvah (good deed) by so many people in our community. People have been generous beyond my wildest imagination. Although I performed bikur cholim before I broke my ankle, I don’t think I did so with such skill and grace as those who performed the mitzvah for me. And so, I’ve compiled a list of 10 “best practices” for mastering the art of bikur cholim based on my experiences as a recipient. Just as one must master certain skills in order to produce a true work of art, so too one must master certain practices in order to fulfill the mitzvah of bikur cholim in its highest form.

In creating this Top Ten Tip List, I am speaking to myself as much as to the reader:

  1. Call, text or email the sick person before visiting to ask when is a good time to visit; it’s not a good idea to pop in without prior mention.

  2. When others are also present, refrain from side conversations without involving the person who is sick.

  3. Unless the sick person asks, do not talk about yourself or your own life; rather, talk about something you know is of interest to the sick person.

  4. Your presence is what is most valued by the sick person, even more than cards or flowers.

  5. Ask open ended questions (i.e., “How are you feeling today?”) to encourage the person to talk if they are in the mood; do not ask details about their illness.

  6. Speak using empathy and compassion; avoid speaking platitudes.

  7. If you are running errands such as going to the market, it’s nice to call and offer to pick up something; you can keep a running tab on how much you’ve spent so the patient can pay you back.

  8. Ask first before sending over food; coordination (regarding time and food sent) is important to not cause undue stress for the patient. If they tell you they are fine with whatever you send, then go with their wish.

  9. A brief friendly phone call is always appreciated; most important is to listen to what the person has to say and help the patient feel validated. You can offer to relieve a young mom of the kids for a few hours, by taking them to the park.

  10. If you say you will do something, follow through with it; if something comes up, let the person know because they are likely relying on you to fulfill your word.

After all is said and done, we strive to do our best when it comes to any mitzvah, especially visiting the sick. And if we aim to do bikur cholim artfully and purposefully, then G-d will help us achieve our goals. May all the sick and injured be cured by the ultimate Doctor, and may there be no more need for bikur cholim.

Photo credit: M. Hendeles


18 Ways to Bring Cheer to a Homebound Mom or Grandma

It’s a common dilemma. Your friend, acquaintance, relative, or neighbor is laid up in bed, due to a sickness or some other disability. You feel badly for them, and you want to help out in some way.

But you just don’t know what to do. You’re afraid to impose, and be in the way. You’re afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing.

But still, you want to show that you care, that you are thinking about the person.

You would love a great idea to pop into your head,  something  that would make your friend happy. Something small – not too big or fancy. Something that just hits the mark, that brings good energy, and boosts the person’s mood and morale.

Something that fits his or her personality and is not too complicated for you to carry out in a timely manner. Continue reading


Reflections on a Special Person

These days, with the Internet, social media and other forms of news, there is no shortage of information coming at us. In fact, much of the news is bad and sad. After all, does happy news sell? Not quite.

The truth is that in the community where I live, several people I know have suffered terrible tragedies the past few weeks. One woman, Avigail Rechnitz, an extremely kind, sweet, benevolent, intelligent and beautiful person, has succumbed to cancer last week after a two year battle. Continue reading


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