“If You Really Want to Help, Make Them a Meal”

A Tribute to Joan Pires

I remember it as if it were yesterday.  On the porch of my home, she stood with the supermarket bag, containing a 5-tiered dinner she’d prepared especially for us.  She was a friend from our church group, who’d called, in advance, to check when she might come, and asked too, if any food were a problem (allergies). A second smaller bag contained an added bonus –a bottle of white wine.  I was so touched I could hardly speak.

This was no take-out meal she’d gotten at a restaurant (although those are still thoughtful), nor was it the instantaneous meal you pull out of your freezer, bake or microwave, and enjoy.  Joan amassed the ingredients, cooked the meal, stored it in the many individual containers (it was Asian, so it involved rice, vegetables, chicken, etc.); and stacked all, according to how we’d use.  

She finished with the dessert, in its own hard plastic container, on the bottom.  A note said the pie was the result of a recent blueberry-picking occasion the family enjoyed in Maine. As such, they’d all had a hand in the production of this gift.

Her timing was remarkable.

It had been a trying time for me in that I suffered complications from the birth of my second child.  My doctor ordered bed rest for me, difficult in that I had a 10 year old (along with the new baby) and no one around to help; family were unavailable; and friends were out of town.  It was late August, just before school re-opened; everyone was getting in their last licks of summer, at the beach, on trips….away.

Her selfless act lifted me out of a depression that seemed bottomless.  I don’t know if it were brought on by hormonal change, the fact I was alone with everything, or a combination of the two.  But I do know:  She gave me the impetus I needed at a critical time.

She is deceased now (died of cancer too early in life), but Joan Pires lives in my memory for her generosity of spirit. And because I remember her kindness (and that of others), I try to act similarly with those who flounder.  In other words, I try to “Pay it forward.”

But I learned it, first, from her.

Biddy recognizes that people mean well when they say:  “If there’s anything I can do, let me know.” But, she knows, too, it’s the generous souls who make a meal, take care of your child, run an errand, or pull you through a crisis—these are the real caretakers of this world.

(Dan and Joan Pires leading the famous Snug Harbor 4th. of July Parade)

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A lifetime teacher and realtor who's now a published writer, Colleen Kelly Mellor is a humorist first, ever aware of the thread that connects us all. Her works have appeared in the WSJ, Providence Journal, and CNN and NY Times-acclaimed medical blog, kevinMD.com, to name a few. All material on this blog is exclusive property of the author and cannot be reproduced without this author's express written consent.
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