I’ve had so much kindness shown to me in my life, I worry that I’ve forgotten too much of it! A couple examples:
My sister, Brenda, has three large paintings that, when I had more access to art materials than funds, she convinced me would be a fair trade for enough money for me to get caught up. Temporarily, at least. In fact, she has contributed so regularly to my well-being, monetarily and otherwise, that she should always have free access to as much of my artwork as she’d like. Even then, I think I’d be ahead in that arrangement!
Once, newly divorced with two young daughters, and facing Christmas with no money, my friend, Linda, and her mother joined together to send me a check. It was accompanied with a letter that managed to remove any shame or embarrassment I would have otherwise felt at the position I was in. Their generosity saved the holiday; their words gave me the knowledge that I was loved, and the courage to continue on my path.
I know I haven’t shown my appreciation enough, or thanked the kindness-giver long and heartily enough to make it clearly understood how much it has meant to me. Yet, even if my memory often fails me now, no kindness has ever been taken for granted. It was always noted, and valued. In recent days, examples are easier to come by:
My daughter, Jen, and I went to Hawaii, to visit my other daughter and her family. I left home on the thirteenth of March. The Corona Virus was making the news, and was discussed seriously, but was still a small blip on the radar. That changed, by leaps and bounds, on a daily basis. We watched the statistics rise, and the news get more ominous. In Hawaii, businesses, then parks and beaches were shut down. Flights were cancelled. My daughter, Kate, her husband, Jeremy, and their young adult children all displayed gracious hospitality as our one-week vacation turned into two, and then three.
I can’t imagine how I’d react, coming home from work day after day to see two adults sitting on the porch reading, helping themselves to food and drink, disrupting household habits and sleeping arrangements. I’m sure it would not be the cordial, benevolent treatment we always received!
With all of the health issues to worry about, finances were last on my list. Still, a one-week unpaid vacation, with travel costs and kennel fees was in my budget. Three weeks away, plus two weeks of self-quarantine was not.
Early on in our delays, family friend, Joel, contacted me to see how the dogs were doing. Before the day was out, he had called the kennel, and taken care of a good portion of the boarding costs! A few days later, my friend Kim wrote to let me know that she, her husband Ralph, and their son, Riley, had joined together to do the same.
I got a message from my friend, Ken, who contributes so much, always, to the welfare of Beaver Island, offering to help in any way he could. My sister Brenda sent several messages assuring me that she could help, too, if necessary. Customers and co-workers reminded me that I was missed at the hardware store. Several people offered to check on my house, bring me groceries, or help in any way they could. My friend, Audrey, said she’d like to talk to me about purchasing artwork when I got home. Each offer warmed my heart and raised my spirits in more ways than I can say!
We finally made it back to Michigan, late on Friday night. Because of jet lag, the Easter holiday, and Beaver Island flight schedules, I couldn’t leave Jen’s house until Monday morning. My daughter, I’m sure, was just as anxious to get settled in to her own home and her own routines as I was, to mine. Yet, though we had already spent almost a month in each other’s company, though we were both exhausted from travel, and though I was at least a little bit cranky, she still had two days to put up with me. Which she did, with patience and grace.
When I stopped for gas on my long drive north, I noticed I had two seriously low tires. Not having a tire gauge, and only the barest knowledge of how to proceed, I asked the attendant if there was anyone who could help me. I didn’t hold much hope, as the “attendant” was there only to run the cash register inside, and the air pumps were a separate business next door.
I barely had the question out of my mouth, though, before a customer two aisles over raised his hand, said he could help, and told me to meet him at the air pumps. He had a tire gauge, and knew what he was doing. When he thought I’d run out of quarters, he moved to put his own credit card into the machine, to keep the air flowing! He refused the cash I tried to give him for his help. I reduced the amount to a five dollar bill, and begged him to at least accept that, to get himself a pop or a cup of coffee for his trouble. Still, he refused. “I was happy to be able to give you a hand,” he said as he waved good-bye.
So much kindness in this world!