The expression, “my cup runneth over” has an abundance of meanings. In its biblical sense it originates from Psalm 23:5. But even in secular terms it express the idea that one has abundant blessings beyond what they can carry. Having a Catholic community in my opinion is one of the greatest blessings of my life. Sharing a faith filled community centered around those who share the same ideals and values, but not only in their faith but in their actions and friendships. For me that centered around the blessings of my mom and in her interaction with others.
Growing up in Catholic school I had the same 30+ kids in my classroom and at the time I didn’t really consider it’s specialness. My mom was an employee of our school and would do various tasks like help as a teacher’s aide or help with Development (as in many Catholic schools funding is tight and you wear many hats). My brother and I use to get annoyed at all the people my mother would talk to(in and out of school) Going on an errand would take half an hour longer than most peoples because she would talk and start up a conversation.
When we moved on to high school and college, my mom continued to work in our Catholic elementary school( and others schools in the Stockton Diocese) forging many friendships with parents, employees, and even students. It was no secret that she was a foodie and always wanted to bring desserts from the local bakery or be caught with a Starbucks in her hand. She was often late to work because she had to get her coffee and in some way got away with being late because she would always bring a drink for someone to share. I don’t know how she did it but she could justify it through some act of kindness. She always thought of others. As year’s passed we would run into former families who attended the school and they would always comment, “I remember when your mom made pumpkin pancakes for our class,” or “I remember how you always had your Starbucks iced tea at your desk.” Her little stories of love were special to those she came in contact with. If someone didn’t have a lunch she would make sure they would be provided. If a student had a hard day, she would distract them with a story to change their mood.
What I didn’t realize (in those times) is that these comments or these little daily interactions were my mom’s way of spreading her joy to others. She had an amazing way of interacting with people that would make them feel so special almost as if they were the only important person in the world. She didn’t do anything spectacular. She just listened to what they would say. She would sometimes buy them a cookie or a coffee or just her presence was very comforting. You felt like you had a friend. One of my mom’s favorite saints Mother Teresa put it best "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." And that in a nutshell summed up my mom.
In January 2016, my mom was diagnosed with glioblastoma grade 4 brain cancer. The prognosis of this type of cancer was incurable and our time with her was unknown. My mom went through surgery to extend her life and multiple rounds of chemo and radiation. We were blessed to have her 26 extra months from her diagnosis.
The day after she died and the news of her passing started to spread among our friends and acquaintances, a friend of hers from one of the schools in our diocese started a chain called #Debbiesdrinksand posted on social media. The goal was to pass along the kindness and buy the next person’s drink inline at whatever Starbucks and share their story of kindness about Debbie or payitforward. Within 24 hours of her posting, stories popped up on Instagram, Facebook and people from Los Angeles, Fresno, even Chicago were posting images of their Starbucks and the logo #Debbiesdrinks on the side of their cup. While most of the people were those we knew, there were people I didn’t know posting the #Debbiesdrinks and paying it forward beyond her Catholic community. Even in death my mom was spreading kindness. The local Starbucks that my mom frequented were writing the phrase on drinks and posted an image of a cup and a flower in honor of my mom.
As her daughter I can’t tell you how amazing this was. I knew my mom was a special lady and loved making others feel special but I was blown away at the sincere generosity of others, friendliness and kindness. Making someone’s day special and just talking to strangers and buying their drinks. All because she enjoyed talking and sharing her coffee and love for others. My mom was a convert to the Catholic faith but she was always inspired by Mother Teresa and the love of those who shared Jesus. She always felt called to help others, and now in her passing she was sharing that love and others were continuing it. Now a year after her death I continue to see social media post of #debbiesdrinks pop up from friends and coworkers.
My mother is my own saint. While she is not officially canonized by the Vatican, her memory shares the small simple ways of human kindness, and that’s exactly what my mom did in her life. An abundance of small kind things is what she offered this world. Her cup truly ran over to others and shared those blessings with them. So what can we learn from this lesson? You don’t need to move mountains to show love and kindness. But if you give from your heart and show sincerity (as my mom did) even the small things will continue to come and your cup will be full of blessings that pour onto others. How can you share your cup of blessings with others?
In loving memory of Debbie Kapina December 19, 1951- April 4, 2018