SPARK ⭕ Magic smiles - Seeds of Happiness

SPARK ⭕ Magic smiles

SPARK ⭕ Magic smiles

June 21, 2024

Dear SPARK - My Seeds of Happiness story is long - however for the purposes of this newsletter, I am hoping to make it short AND meaningful.

Here goes: In 2018, after a VERY long and happy life, my mother learned she was terminal. She was 90. Like anyone losing someone dear to them, I was sad and lost - though I honestly never expected either of my parents to live as long as they did - which sounds crazy, but it is the truth. Their generation lived through the Great Depression and fought in World War II. So - their life was extremely well lived - even before they married and had four children - I am their youngest. In any event - in 2018 my mother learned of her inevitable encore. She had survived cancer 3 times - had beaten "the odds" that and then some. And she was before - and still - HAPPY. In fact, her totem (so to speak) was always a yellow smile-face. During my mothers earthly exit, I was living states away, with my own family (husband and four boys).

A VERY dear friend walked into my house on what was one of the "harder days" - and simply handed me a Seed of Happiness. I looked at it - having never seen one before - and it made me BREATHE. Like - it made me inhale for the first time in what felt like forever. She shrugged. She said, "I don't know what to say. There is nothing TO SAY. I just thought maybe THIS - this? Maybe THIS could say it for me. Maybe THIS will help you.". I took it with sober, knowing gratitude. It helped - more than anything in the world could have helped me at this point in my life.

My story has two parts, SPARK! =). I took this SOH and gave it to my mom the next time I saw her. I gave it TO HER - and it was the one thing she could actually hold. It was small and round - and it was her favorite thing - a yellow smiley face! - so she loved the message. The message really was unspoken (she had breast cancer that after 50 years became brain cancer) - but she KNEW. She held onto her yellow SOH - she never let it go. She smiled and thanked me for allowing her to continue to be EXACTLY what she always was - HAPPY. And a GIVER.

Okay - so sorry - my story maybe has THREE PARTS (SPARK - please do as you please with this story - I know you know it well). So - my mom Helen Dobrinski died on April 24, 2019. I tucked her seed into her hand so she could keep it forever. My father - her stalwart (and OLD!!! ;)) spouse grieved for her like nothing I have ever seen- and frankly hope not to - it was gutting. However - wait for it - Mark Borella's seeds of happiness - saved THE DAY. Months after my mom died, my dad deteriorated. He was married to my mom for 70 years - and they were a team. A beautiful, loving team. Honestly, my father had aged much more than my mom in those past two decades, but somehow when my mom got her news, my dad reverse aged to be there for her for every minute - and he was. He ran "out of gas" in September - just about 4 months after my mom died. He checked HIMSELF INTO hospice (Ama/ declining life sustaining meds at 93) -on really his own volition. He had been a cardiac patient for years - and had had cancer for decades - but he never wanted to leave my mom - so somehow, not sure how - he held on. For HER I know now - but only in retrospect. My dad was the giver of givers. My mom was too - but my father? He was physical about it - if a car needed plowing, or pushing out of upstate NY snow storm? At 90 - he did it. He was the youngest son of Polish immigrants and NOTHING - and Imean NOTHING stopped my dad.

OK - Back to Seeds Of Happiness. My dad decided he missed my mom and wanted to catch up with her (not suicidal) - just 93 and owning the feeling that she was in Heaven and he missed her and wanted to be with her. Which is COOL - but not cool when you are his child - and you need to figure out how to make this time "COUNT" so to speak. Well. Mark Borella is one in a million - or maybe a ZILLION (says me) - because I reached out - I needed to order seeds - ASAP - because my father needed a way to tangibly THANK people (tipping and such wasn't allowed - and even if it were, the hospice environment is beautifully humble and loving and giving - and it required something SPECIAL). So - having only ONE Seed of Happiness to my name (which was at this point, buried with my mother) - I reached out to Mark Borella. I ordered Seeds of Happiness for my dad to be able to offer to anyone who visited, or to give to the HUNDREDS of wonderful volunteers at Mercy House. Seeds Of Happiness for the WIN!! My dad - a humble, Polish immigrant - WORLD WAR II Veteran and later a nurse, husband of 70 years .... he cherished his mason jar of SOH. He gave them out in TROVES. My husband (who is wonderful, and frankly my parents loved/liked more than me - yay - that's a win) - said, "heather - you are going to break the bank. but I don't care"- and oh my goodness - I didn't care, either.

The Seeds Of Happiness in a generic Mason Jar that we tried to keep filled to the brim - they made SUCH a difference for my dad. And for US. THEY enabled my dad to be EXACTLY who he always was - a giver. I will NEVER, EVER EVER EVER NOT have an ARSENAL of Seeds of Happiness at the "ready".

They are tiny - but they are MIGHTY. Thank you, Mark Borella, for taking the time to read my story/my plight years ago - and HEARING IT. You are magic. Your team is magic. I am so very grateful - with each and every Seed Of Happiness I gift. Thank you. From the whole bottom of my heart. XO

- Heather

Also in Community Stories

SPARK ⭕ Smiles can make a heart drop

July 18, 2024

I am a receiver, not a giver. 

At the place I work, working in the parking booth is one of the more tedious positions to have. You spend the entire day outside, saying mostly the same thing over and over again. Each interaction takes about ten seconds but somehow people still find a way to not listen to you. It wears on you. And unlike every other position here you don’t get many opportunities to make human connections. When I do I jump at the chance. 

It’s been sunny lately, which means everyone is wearing sunglasses which means the ticket machine is hard for people to see. The solution is to tell people “I recommend taking your sunglasses off.” I guarantee you I have heard every variation of comment that can be made after this recommendation: “That helps.” “Polarized lenses.” “Wow, I couldn’t see anything!” I’ve seriously thought about keeping a tally. I know it sounds like I’m a complete stick in the mud, but imagine being a pilot and every passenger tells you to not let your arms get tired while flying the plane. Everyone is looking for a laugh and you have to give them at least a chuckle, every comment, 8 hours a day. The first day is fine, if a bit annoying. The second day you’re starting to wish someone would come up with a better joke. The third you can no longer pretend to be amused.   It is honestly personal connection moments that keep me from losing my head.

The one this story is for started out like any other. “I recommend taking your sunglasses off.” A jokey comment. The woman says to me “I imagine it must get frustrating saying that all the time.” I pull off my own sunglasses and say, “you have no idea.”  “Oh yes I do,” she says. Really?, I think, you also work in the service industry? “Because,” she says, “I’ve become one of the people you have to say that to!” Im not recounting the dialogue exactly as it occurred - it’s been maybe 40 minutes since this happened and I’ve been interrupted several times. But this was truly funny for me. Truly fun. I could count the moments I’ve genuinely laughed with a visitor on one hand, and I’ve worked here for nearly three years. And I’ve never had a laugh in parking.

Then she said, “you know what, I’m gonna give you this.” I will admit my heart dropped a little there. Because I was expecting a religious leaflet or something. We get those a lot. One of my last genuinely fun conversations ended with a religious leaflet, and I was very disappointed about that. I’m already a Christian, you are producing trash. I throw those away without reading them. But I take it anyway, and tell the woman, “I’ll take this but you can’t hand them out inside.” She said, “I wasn’t planning to, and it’s not religious.” Oh! Color me surprised!

She drives into the lot, leaving me with a teeny business card thing and a sandwich bag with an orange rock in it.  Okay, let’s see what this is. The card had this web address on it, but I was more drawn to the orange rock. The clay seed. I turn it around, grinning from ear to ear before exclaiming aloud, “It’s a little man!!” I’m a sucker for little mans: Plushes, tiny action figures, carvings, even bugs. Little mans, all of them, and I can’t get enough.

I will go home today probably tired, probably a little frustrated. I’ll have to figure out dinner, which is its own task. Change clothes, give my dog her medicine, take my own, and resist the urge to play solitaire until I fall asleep. But now I have this little man. And I intend to show him to everyone.

View full article →

SPARK ⭕ A green smile full of wonder and dreams

July 17, 2024

A former colleague of mine gave me a Seed of Happiness upon her departure from our company. She and I had been friendly and it was a very kind gesture made by someone passing through my life. For years, the little green Seed sat on my desk. A trinket, along with others, whose message I loved, but I admittedly didn't have a connection to until now.

Months back I lost my grandmother... not just my grandmother, but my first and deepest best friend. For those months it's been hard to grab onto happiness and in my desire to declutter my desk I came across this Seed.

This beautiful green Seed of Happiness.
The color of grass that forever grows.
The color of clovers of so many people find luck in.
The color of a whole city built of wonder and dreams where even Dorothy knew she could find her way back home through.
My grandmother's favorite color.
A color that brought her a simple, yet great happiness.
Now after all these years, this little Seed and its smile has finally brought me the happiness I can't seem to find lately, even if just for a moment.
A beautiful little green Seed reminding me of my beautiful grandmother.


View full article →

SPARK ⭕ A seed helped heal from loss

July 16, 2024

Back in 2020 my mom passed away. I did not even get to say goodbye to her due to Covid restrictions. Broke my heart to know she died alone.  One of our social workers gave me a special seed to help me heal from my loss. To this day I have my seed on my desk with its little smile to remind me that my mom is watching over me a sending me a smile from heaven.

- Becky

View full article →

Hey Change Makers – sign up for our newsletter: Spark!
We’re filling it with the stories that make us smile and sharing it with the Circle of Kindness.
It’s going to be fun!