Generosity, Foolishness and Horse Sense

It’s so hot – the kind of days where women in corsets used to faint and horses would droop in their stands. Sometimes they’d be overcome with the heat and expire (the horses, not the women – or, maybe the women, too.)

And, of course, when your horse is dying and you still need to get across town, beating a dead horse gets you nowhere. So instead of beating it, I’ll try to gently move it to a resting place where it can be at peace.

I think our most humane urge is to give, to be generous, to be kind. Once we outgrow the ‘gimme’ stage of childhood, we begin to see the benefits of giving, and we also may be on the receiving end at one point or another – THAT’S an enlightening experience.

When someone takes advantage of such beautiful generosity, it’s treachery. A deep and nagging anger can consume the fooled giver. I think what happened was the woman I quoted in my earlier post – let’s call her Mrs. X – misinterpreted what she’d read about Gerry’s MM Fund on a different website, then felt that she’d been suckered in some way, and has a lot of anger about it.

Anger is strong, and – by definition – maddening. Once anger is felt and expressed it’s VERY hard to go back and apologize. (Or even admit to ourselves that we may have been mistaken in expressing such anger.) Heaven knows I have been the guilty party in getting mad over insignificant things many times in my life.

I wasn’t going to blog about it again – it just seemed like bad karma – but this morning I read a comment on my original post about the kitchen re-do misunderstanding and I realized that there still may be questions out there about our high on the hog lifestyle.

Party, party, party!

It made me realize that someone has to go out and scrape up the dead horse and bury the poor thing. So I’ll do it. I always wanted to be a large animal vet!

Here’s the comment – which I think is very kind and I’m very sad that the writer felt they couldn’t leave their name. But I do understand – the righteous indignation by my readers was pretty strong (and, yes, even as I appreciated the sentiments I was troubled about the nasty turn some of the comments took. I know you guys want to protect me, but be kind and assume the best when you post to my blog. We all know that nastiness has a way of coming right back and I am – at the end – responsible for my blog and comments.)

I want to thank you for writing this post. I wasn’t the person who sent you that email but I was feeling a little bit that way. When you are struggling to pay the normally week to week bills you can feel pretty foolish for sending money to someone who can afford to renovate her home. After reading your post, however, I can appreciate that the renovations are necessary as part of the care of your husband.

I never sent you an email, however, because my attitiude was that in a worse case scenario I had simply bought a pattern on impulse that I was unlikey to use – and who amongst the knitting community hasn’t done this before? I think we all have to take responsibility for the decisions we make – including sending money to someone else.

I am leaving you this message because I think it was appropriate for you to address the issue raised and to say that I appreciated it. However, I am signing this as annonymous as I do not wish to be attacked by your fans.

First of all – thank you to the person who wrote this.

This was exactly my reason for posting the original email from Mrs. X. I hadn’t particularly thought it was a bad email, but I thought it did bring up a point that needed to be addressed.

As I said, I was afraid that others may have thought the same thing, and it was important for me to express to folks who hadn’t been reading my blog that the kitchen re-do was necessary, and it is really just dividing our kitchen into a bathroom/laundry/kitchen due to my husband’s illness.

Unfortunately, it was my posting of the email – and the comments from readers – that really angered Mrs. X. I received 8 not very nice emails last night from the same source. I responded to 4 of them before I realized that it was a losing battle. There was no way I could get her to understand our reasons for needing a bathroom, and no matter what I wrote it was perceived as a lie. She accused me of using her email as a fundraising opportunity.

Silly her – Gerry’s illness is the fund raising op! Sheesh!

Mrs. X also wrote to the blogger from whom she’d originally read about Gerry,

As it turns out, those donations are also being funneled toward expenses for vacations and non-essential home improvements that have nothing to do with her husband’s illness.

Fabulous – I’m making the email rounds. The jig is up – we didn’t go to Duluth, we went to VEGAS, baby! Actually, the entire Duluth trip was paid for by my lecture and teaching engagements at the start of the trip at the guild and at Yarn Harbor.

Well, when something is stinking up the street, you go clean it up. It’s not fun – no one wants to get the flies all riled up – but it’s the best thing to do. People might even yell at you while you’re doing it, but it’s got to be done.

This, dear readers, is the stomach clenching fear of anyone who asks for help. This is why some folks are “proud” and won’t accept help from others.

Once you’re given something – be it an old dress, $50 or a scholarship to Harvard – you feel an obligation to wear the dress well, spend the $50 on sensible things, and succeed in your studies. This is a good instinct – we should always try to honor the giver of a gift by using the gift in the best way possible.

But sometimes the giver of the dress tells you you need to lose weight to wear it, the Aunt who gave you $50 is angered that you spent some of the money on candy, and the Harvard benefactor feels you should really major in chemistry, not Latvian folk dance.

And – we can’t escape from the sad truth; Some folks DO lie. They exaggerate situations, they make up things to get money – they scam.

The kindness we’ve been shown (in emails, cards, purchases of the pattern) has been SO great that I am filled with worry that anyone would think, let alone write, the

Whatever your rationalization might be, I chose to donate to a woman whom I thought needed care for her husband. I DO NOT CHOOSE to donate any money to someone who thinks that the world owes her a new kitchen because her husband is dying. Shame on you.

Please know – this is not a scam. How humiliating to have to write that. I swear, if I didn’t laugh I’d cry. Oh, crap – I am crying!

She ended her last email last night with,

I’ll blog about my experience with you tomorrow in the hopes of saving other stupid suckers from falling into the trap of donating to you and after that, I’m done.

Attention Stupid Suckers; Please DO NOT purchase the Red Carpet pattern – that is all.

I don’t like to admit it – it’s probably because I have a lot on my plate right now – but I was up a good portion of the night lying in bed fretting about this. I didn’t want to tell Gerry because I knew it would make him feel bad – but I was a silent, dour shadow of myself last night when I received the awful emails.

However, this morning she wrote to say that she wouldn‘t blog about me because it wasn’t cool. But when I read the comment from the kind person above, and discovered that Mrs. X had been emailing to others – friends of mine – about this, I figured it had to be addressed.

So I guess I’m not cool – no big surprise there. It’s friggin’ BROILING here.

I’d rather just deal with this openly, get it out and get the damned horse buried. So now Gerry knows, the world knows, and it’s easier to breathe. Neigh.

I’m not doing this for Mrs. X, but for anyone who may have a nagging doubt about the whole friggin’ kitchen or our propensity to want to live our lives as richly and fully as possible.

The nerve.

Mrs. X did say that on three occasions she’s been the caregiver for folks in serious medical situations, so I think she does have an inkling of this situation. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy, and I’m sorry that she had to go through with it three times. That is rough.

Thanks for allowing me to go on about this (as if I could be stopped, huh?) I could let it fester, I could wait for the city authorities to remove the carcass of poor Dobbin, or I could just go out and do it myself.

If you need me, I’ll be in the back yard with a shovel.

As a side note – we are planning to take out a short term home equity loan to cover the cost of this renovation. We’ve always planned that, and we will designate the Red Carpet Convertible funds to pay for accommodation and travel expenses for ourselves in Rochester and our kids during the BMT. I write a brief note to everyone who buys the Red Carpet Convertible, and I’ve mentioned in some of the notes specifically what we’ve earmarked that donors funds for.

As someone else suggested in my comments, I’m going to write a little blurb about this – along with the plans for the kitchen – and link to it from the Red Carpet Convertible page so folks can read and understand what’s going on with that. This is NOT a cosmetic re-do of our kitchen (although while we’re doing it, we’re trying to do it as beautifully as we can afford – not expensive, just tidy & well designed.)

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