But if you have a friend or loved one who has experienced a death in their family, and you tell them that you are there for them if they need anything, then by god and sonny jesus you'd better come through.
Frankly I don't exactly know why people are so reticent about keeping their word and coming through for someone; the feeling you get from knowing you really helped out a situation so far outlasts any temporary inconvenience that you may feel.
When Josie's father passed in October 2008, I was fresh off my own father's passing, having taken place that previous May. So I knew exactly what they needed, even if they themselves didn't: I took a cue from my uncle Alan and brought them something to eat.
Because when you lose a family member, even a family of lard-asses like mine just forget to eat. My uncle brought over some salami and a jar of mustard, and even though I'm not particularly fond of salami I remember being touched by the gesture, to the point of tears. Remembering that, and bearing in mind that the family is Sicilian, I brought over some good cold cuts - some of this, some of that, all Italian and all delicious. And of course they accepted gratefully because judging by the way they tucked in, it appeared that none of them had indeed eaten for some time.
But what really needed to happen, in that horrible day after, is a hard-charging day of planning and phone calls and logistics, and I offered to take U. Sucrosum off the family's hands for the day. I was surprised - pleasantly - to hear my offer gratefully accepted, so I scraped the first few layers of crud off my car and off we went to the New England Aquarium. And on the way there, it was my high honor to introduce him to the first real aspect of manhood: I told him, with parental permission, his first dirty joke:
Q: What's the last thing that goes through a fly's mind as it hits your windshield?It's a good one, yes? He was I think nine at the time, so he tried to be cool, but the more he thought about it, the more he just couldn't stop himself from laughing and finally admitted, "that was pretty funny."
A: Its asshole.
I bring all this up because it informs what I'm doing now. My pal M, who lives up in New Hampshire, and who has an exuberant 16-week-old Rottweiler puppy, needed to go to a family funeral today (very sad, the details - but out of respect I can't share them here) and nobody would put them up with the dog. So when I asked him if there was anything I could do, he said, well, yes, could you come up here and watch my dog?
So here I sit, exhausted from being worked over by a 4-month-old puppy who is almost 40 pounds already, who enjoys all manner of physical activity, and who really wants to show you who the alpha of the family is. Right now she is sleeping at my feet so I have a respite of about an hour, but after that I'm going to need to take her outside and run her around like a crazy person until she gets tired again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
But god dammit, there is something rewarding on a deep fundamental level about helping out someone in need. And I find that the closer I am to the person being helped, the better I feel about doing the helping. It never quite occurs to me that way when I make the offer, or when I'm doing the helpy thing in question, but afterwards I'm able to tally up the karma points and I realize that I did ok in the exchange.
So don't be afraid of offering your assistance in situations like that. Maybe the luckiest thing that can happen is that they consider you close enough to take you up on the offer.
That's all from me. But this from Eva: woof woof. Woof!! Ow ow awooooooooooo......