Living in Jackson

It’s Harder to Receive a Gift

March 8, 2021

Than to Give a Gift

During a conversation with her neighbor, Connie Rupert, a Jackson Aflac agent, learned the widow had been surviving on Pop Tarts and military MREs from a local food bank. It was during the first month of the Pandemic in 2020. The widow graciously accepted a food and flower gift basket when Connie stopped by a week later. The agent explained her insurance company was holding a “Day of Caring.” Aflac employees were encouraged to do something nice for someone in their community, to give back.

That was when Mrs. Rupert realized how bare the woman’s cupboards were. It was natural for her to swing into action. Connie and a friend purchased enough groceries to last two weeks and dropped them on the woman’s doorstep. As they were tiptoeing away, the widow stepped outside. “Hello Connie.” She scowled. “What?” She said she couldn’t accept the food. She was embarrassed. “How can I reciprocate?” The widow said she didn’t want to owe anyone.

Connie understood her neighbor needed the food, but accepting it made her feel vulnerable. They talked. Connie explained no strings were attached to the gift, and that this was a women-helping-another-woman gesture. They spoke of how the pandemic has flipped our lives exchanging financial independence for neediness, and how helpless that makes us feel.

The women had tea. The widow spoke about her career and her late husband. Connie relayed how she had worked for a bank in Ann Arbor selling annuities, mutual funds, and life insurance, and how she later earned a license to sell health insurance. She said she loved gardening. She shared stories of scuba diving among manta rays and sea turtles in Hawaii. When she shared that the last item on her ‘bucket list’ was to race Junkers in a demolition derby, the women howled.

The widow said she had always admired Connie’s historic home. Connie told her how she loved antiques and when she was tasked with opening an Aflac regional office in Jackson she was drawn to a historic building, the Commercial Exchange.

“Thank you for your gift,” the widow said and meant it.

By: Laurice Lazebnik