Several of the blogs I read regularly have been overtaken lately with what I can only describe as a completely kick-ass contest. HP is giving 50 bloggers the opportunity to give away 6,000 dollars worth of technology (each) in their HP Magic Giveaway.
Each of the 50 bloggers has chosen a different way to select their winner, some by chance, some by humor, and some by need. Among my favorite of the contest ideas are those that insist the prize be shared with someone who needs it, like the one going on at one of my favorite (what? It does not hurt to suck up) blogs, moosh in indy.
When I read the rules to her contest I immediately knew who I would give a prize away to. And don't get me wrong, I'd freaking love to win myself a computer. After having both our laptops stolen on our honeymoon and having to fork over the money to replace them, I feel like karmatic balance would be restored. But, to be honest, I don't really need a computer.
But I know someone who does.
One of my co-workers, Mary (not even close to her real name), has a life harder than anything I can even begin imagine. Mary's house, like so many others, was damaged in Katrina. They were able to replace the flooring and return the house to a "livable" state, but many of the roof repairs went unfinished. There simply wasn't the money. And the reason that there wasn't the money is because Mary's husband is very ill and more of her income goes to his health insurance than goes to their homeowners insurance.
Just before the storm Mary's husband suffered a series of 3 strokes, each of which robbed him from another piece of his functionality. After the last stroke, he was paralyzed on one side, and has not and will not regain any mobility or feeling. Mary is his only caregiver as well as the only caregiver for their 13 year old son who has significant learning disabilities. Oh, and she works full time, because without her income, they would have no insurance, and no food or shelter.
In January, Mary's washing machine exploded and flooded part of her newly floored house. She has yet to find a way to replace the flooring. Or the washing machine. And yet, she continues to move on. To work. To do what is needed and then some, without ever complaining.
Less than a month ago, Mary's husband was diagnosed with diabetes, but only after coming down with a disastrous case of gangrene. And Mary was told that her husband would have to moved into a nursing home. Permanently. That after this hospital trip, he'd not be coming home again.
The insurance would only cover so much of the nursing home costs, but Mary had few options and so she found a way to make it work. The way was to give up their house and move into an apartment with her mother and sister (and son).
It seems like each time she starts to gain ground, starts to find a new normal for her family, something else goes very wrong. And yet, each day, she comes to work, smiling, and teaches children with more patience than I will ever have. I have taught across the hall from this woman for two years and have never once heard her yell (which is possibly because I can't hear anything over the sound of
the voices in my head my own yelling...) or raise her voice. She's one of those people who was meant to teach, and she does it with ease and grace, despite all the other challenges that await her outside of the classroom.
If I won the HP Blogger Magic giveaway, I would share as much of it as possible with Mary and her family. Mary does not have a computer at home and I know, without a doubt, that her son would benefit greatly from something like the Touch Smart computer, which would allow him to do school work and practice his skills with various physical manipulations through HP's amazing hands-on technology, instead of just through standard methods of learning.
I know that Mary would be able to go home much earlier each afternoon if she had a HP Premium Notebook at home to use for work purposes. Without a home computer she spends several hours each day doing all the work she might need from our computer lab at school. She sacrifices time for her students, time which I know she doesn't have.
And finally, I know that if anyone needs a good surprise, a positive turn in their life, it is her.
Like I said before, I would be thrilled to have a new computer, but I don't think that the excitement of winning a computer would even compare to the excitement of improving my friend and her son's lives. If it makes one part of their life easier in this tremendously challenging time, then it's a greater gift than any piece of technology or any item on any wish list. If it allows her to spend more time with her son at home and visit her husband more often, I'll happily give her every single piece of the $6,000 prize package.
In this season, as so many people are thinking about presents and material objects, I would love nothing more than to give a true gift to my friend Mary, the gift of time with her family, time she greatly needs and deserves.