My best friend from high school, Shari, regularly surprises me with care packages. I never
know what fun, interesting items she has chosen for me. Books and magazines are always in the mix along with a variety of unusual items. A few years ago, she included a little car charm, a small medallion with a string of brightly colored beads to hang from my rear view mirror. This little item is a daily reminder of wonderful friendships with dear ones like Shari. It also is simply very beautiful and brings a smile to my face every time I see it. As time has gone on, the words on the charm have burrowed their way into my heart and mind: kindness matters. Indeed, courtesy, goodness, and graciousness are needed more than ever in our hurting world, at all times yet especially in the midst of difficulties.
The last sixteen months especially have been difficult for my husband and I. We received the terrible news of his stage 4 colon cancer in January 2016. Through two surgeries and many months of chemo, he continues to fight this dreaded disease. We have received so much kindness from strangers and loved ones in the context of his cancer care plus in other arenas of our lives. I share a few of these acts of kindness that lighten our burdens and touch our hearts. Two quotes on this topic from my 19th-century mentor, L. Maria Child, come forward from her time to our time to encourage us on this vital journey.
Random Acts of Kindness: Cancer Care
We have been blessed with exceptional medical care from day one. Our two surgeons have been highly skilled in their fields as well as sport delightful bedside
manners. The additional doctors and nurses at the hospitals plus our primary care provider and her staff have consistently shown us kindness and have worked hard to make this situation go as smoothly as possible. Many others brought comfort during the hospital stays in unique ways: service dogs, a harpist, a massage therapist, chaplains.
During these hospitalizations, a dear friend’s girl friend graciously gifted us with her signature chocolate covered pretzels. We, of course, had the opportunity to enjoy this sweet treat. However, the intended audience was the hospital personnel who helped us, ranging from the doctors to the nurses to the housekeepers. What a treat to extend that small gesture of hospitality and gratitude to these angels of mercy. Every recipient left with smiles on their faces!
As to be expected with any serious illness, the bills pile up. One of the staff members in the billing department with whom I speak by phone each month has shared bits of her story fighting cancer. Her tone of voice and demeanor exude empathy and kindness in every interaction. Her survival of cancer gives me hope for my dear husband.
Money has been tight. We are so grateful for our loved ones who have assisted in this area. They are our earth angels!
A dear neighbor continues to battle her active cancer. Despite her struggles and difficulties, she constantly checks in on us and offers to help. She has a heart of gold and is such an inspiration. She consistently reminds us to take this day by day.
As Maria Child put it: “Misfortune is never mournful to the soul that accepts it; for such do always see that every cloud is an angel’s face.”
Random Acts of Kindness: Other Aspects of Life
In those first few weeks after the cancer diagnosis, my car died. As if we didn’t have enough troubles.:-( We found a replacement vehicle in a unique way. One evening, I felt led by Spirit to have my husband take me out to supper right then and there. And it had to be a specific IHOP that we know and love. To our great surprise, as we parked our car at the restaurant, I saw another vehicle in the parking lot with a For Sale sign. We called the owner. She and her friend joined us at our table for a few minutes. Within five days, I had a new, used car in very good condition. I smile whenever I think about this incident.
Another car-connected situation took place just a few weeks later. After visiting my aunt, I merrily went on my way to home. However, half way there, the muffler came lose and started dragging. I knew to park right away and address the situation. If need be, I would’ve called AAA roadside assistance. Miraculously, that was not needed. I pulled into a local Loaf N Jug convenience store. A couple and their son just happened to walk by right at that moment. They came over to help me by calming me down and reassuring me that all would be well. The husband saw a group of men congregating at a another car. He went to see if they could help. A car mechanic was in the group. He kindly put his gloves on and got under the car to take care of the damage.
I had sense enough to check my tool case which had been my sister’s before her death in 2010. Her
spirit helped me out that night. The case contained a small coil of wire just the right size to tie up the muffler, which the mechanic did for me. He also diagnosed the problem. The muffler simply needed a bolt and screw. The pedestrian couple suggested I go to an auto parts store to purchase the item plus to request help in fixing the problem. I had 30 minutes to get that done before the nearest one closed. The young man at the auto parts store did a wonderful job for that $2 purchase. He refused a tip. As an expression of my gratitude, I gave his store and him a five star review on Yelp, a website connecting consumers and businesses. Everyone’s show of kindness and assistance that night always will remain with me. They brought me light, nurture, and healing in a time of darkness.
More recently, just a few days ago, I traveled to downtown Denver, Colorado for a client meeting. I chose to park on the street and plug a meter. Just as I pulled into one spot, a nice young man knocked on my window. He let me know that the empty parking space two cars behind me had a full hour left on the meter. The one I just pulled into only had six minutes “on the clock.” I gratefully accepted this stranger’s gift of the free parking space. I especially needed that added nurture this week. My husband has had a rough go in the last 9 days or so. Thus, this man’s small kindness melted my heart and gave me needed solace.
Paying It Forward: The Ripple Effects of Kindness
The foundation of this kindness is love. Maria Child beautifully described this dynamic: “The cure for all ills and wrongs, the cares, the sorrows and the crimes of humanity, all lie in the one word ‘love.’ It is the divine vitality that everywhere produces and restores life.” May we continue to go forth and pay kindness forward, for ourselves and our hurting world!!!
Please share your experiences of random acts of kindness.