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Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

That’s what he said. I made an assumption he was a man based on the timbre of his voice because I was rather blinded by the blowing sleet and snow. I couldn’t see.

I was trying to cross the street, making my way to the train, but the puddle that had formed in the intersection earlier in the day was so large I couldn’t tell where the sidewalk ended and so I was having to walk in the street but I couldn’t see and was just hoping the drivers could see me.

“Here, take my hand!”

And so I reached out and a mittened hand grabbed mine, holding me steady as I danced across the slushy lake to his side. With no windshield wipers for my glasses all I could tell was that he was a tall man dressed a bit more properly for the weather than me. “Thank you,” I said and then I shouted, “Stop!”

He had started across the crosswalk toward the other side but in helping me he hadn’t noticed that the street lights had changed. Not many cars on the road that night but there was one that streaked past.

We crossed the road together, walking into the wind. Though we could not really see each other we still managed to chat about the weather. By the time we made it to the station we had concluded jovially that after surviving that winter of three three-foot snowstorms in a row, how bad was this really?

Entering the station, my glasses instantly fogged. I stared at what I thought was his general direction and said, “Thanks again.” He replied, “And same to you.”

And I thought as I waited on the platform that once again a stranger had taken my hand.

 

 

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One day, one of  my brothers called and it was clear that he was in need of immediate assistance.  Not for physical trauma.  He needed someone to lean against, as we all do at some time.  I was thousands of miles away.  I could not get to him so I called a person that my brother had mentioned in recent years, an older gentleman who’d been an important figure in high school but I had not seen or spoken with him in over two decades.  That day I used the online white pages to track down his home number.  With barely a greeting, I told him I was sending my brother to him.  He simply said, in a lovely warm voice, “Okay, Cynthia.  I’ll be waiting.”  And then I called my brother and I told him that he needed to get to that gentleman’s house and when he did he was to call me.  He said, “Okay, Cynthia. I’m going.”  Time did pass but then the phone did ring.  My brother said, “It’s me.  Hold on.” Then he passed the phone to the gentleman who said, “Don’t worry.  I’ve got him under my wing.”

Why does that story come to mind today?  Years have passed.  My brother is fine. He and the gentleman remain close friends.  I think the story surfaces because over this past week I have been witness to other acts of kindness, and reminded of people like this gentleman, willing to spread their wings over those in need, without question and without expectation.  They are bits of brightness in the sometime dark, men and women who are often not recognized by others or even by themselves for the beauty they add to the world.  By the way, I have not seen the gentleman in this story, or spoken to him, since that day.  I did send him a postcard saying thank you.  And, he sent me a card back saying you’re welcome.

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It was to be a short walk in the Belle Isle Marsh.  I expected to capture sunlight on branches.  The snowy owl in a tree was quite the surprise.  Thanks to a kind stranger who pointed out the white spot and even let people borrow his binoculars for a better look.

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Detail from stained glass window by La Farge in Trinity Church, Copley Square

Detail from stained glass window by La Farge in Trinity Church, Copley Square

Recently, that fellow in my life, S.,  went to the grocery store.  He stood in line with his basket of goods.  No doubt, something delightful for us like smoked salmon and cheese.  In front of him, a woman leaned against her cart.  Two children played about her legs.  The cart contained bulk items like cornmeal and potatoes, a few greens and some milk.  Later, he told me that she looked so worn, her eyes so dark.  After her purchases were rung up and bagged, she pulled out her purse.  The man stepped forward and said to the cashier, “I will pay for it.”  The woman said nothing.  She put away her purse, grabbed her children and pushed her cart away.  She did not say thank you, nor did he need her to.

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One day I stood at the bus stop.  I’d underdressed.  The wind blew hard and I was so cold.  Even as I huddled unto myself, I felt a tap upon my shoulder.  I turned around.  A young college student stood.  He held out his coat.  “Would you like to wear this until the bus comes?”  I took him up on his offer.  I said thank you, but I forgot to ask his name.

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Growing up in Virginia, as soon as spring was sprung and all the snow was gone, my father would head out to our little garden patch with his metal shovel and begin to turn the earth.  It was ritual.  But one year, he had a stroke and was unable to go out and so my younger brother and I took the shovel to the garden.  It stood taller than either of us. We tried pushing the blade beneath the soil together but we were not strong enough.  But we continued on because unless that garden was created all would not be right with the world.  At some point, “out of the blue,” a man appeared.  A next door neighbor that did not get along with my parents.  He was curmudgeonly.  He had brought with him his fancy tiller.  He grunted and that was all he said to tell us to get out of the way.  And then he turned the earth for us.  I don’t know if my dad ever thanked him, but we did plant a garden that year.

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There are many evil deeds done every minute of every day but there are also those random acts of kindness.  That is what I try to keep in mind.

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