Witnessing the act of “paying it forward.”


In 1916, author Lily Hardy Hammond wrote “you don’t pay love back; you pay it forward.” In recent years, the concept of “paying it forward” has become more popular and I love hearing and watching these random acts of kindnesses spread.

This morning we arrived early to church to meet the DeSanto family. Jeanne, the mom, had been in communication with me about purchasing a gift for Ostin. This family is well regarded in our congregation for their kindness, generosity and involvement. Today’s pre-arranged meeting was a personal request on their behalf.

Five years ago, their son Peter was treated for cancer. Jeanne and Mike have vivid memories of the long days spent in the hospital, and during one surgery, a friend sat with them and handed his iPad to them and said, “keep it.” Jeanne recalls leaving ICU, landing on the oncology floor and the surgical team arriving on rounds…”rather than looking at Peter, they were staring at the iPad”. The doctors were in awe of these newly developed instruments, and it became the DeSanto’s “life line.”

There’s nothing like having the support of others who have gone through similar experiences and can truly understand and be helpful. Jeanne has shared her son’s reactions to being poked and prodded by doctors, and can empathize with Ostin and some of the behaviors he’s exhibiting. She knows he’s sensing a loss of control, and can only imagine it’s more difficult with the language barrier and cultural differences.

Today Peter, his brother Charlie and their parents presented their family “fun pack” to Ostin… a backpack filled with coloring books, crayons, games and yes, an iPad! The family was quite excited to have the opportunity to “pay it forward” to  another patient who is facing many more hospitalizations. Peter and Charlie shared their expertise and began showing Ostin how to navigate the iPad. It was pure “magic” for Ostin as he watched Bob the Builder appear on his own private screen, and gleefully yelled “construccion” (construction)!

We’re grateful to the DeSanto family and know this will provide hours of entertainment and also a great educational tool for Ostin, his family and most likely their village.


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