The quality of being friendly, generous and considerate.
Focusing on the positives each week.
This week’s focus: Kindness.
In 2007 my family and I suffered a profound loss. What started out as a seemingly perfect day, quickly descended into what can only be described as a living nightmare. It was a sunny Tuesday afternoon in March when we received a phone call that would change our lives. Those moments are forever burned in my mind and heart. What preceded those days and what followed are memories that I will cherish forever.
When I say it was an ordinary day, it’s not cliche. My family and I had planned to take a trip to Seaworld the following day. The only difference was that my sister would join us with her 4-month-old daughter and this would be her first theme park outing. It would have been Wednesday, March 7th, 2007.
Everyone was buzzing around finishing up last minute business. My mom had returned from shopping with a new pair of comfortable sandals and had stopped by the house to show me. She was raving about how comfortable they felt. Honestly, I couldn’t get past how ugly they were. That was the first time I had ever seen fisherman sandals for women. Silly as I am, I put one of her shoes on and went down the hallway to show my husband.
Before exiting the kitchen I grabbed the phone from the edge of the table. I called my sister to see if she wanted to run to the store with me to pick up snacks for the following day. With phone in hand and one butt-ugly shoe on my foot, I was off to find Mike. I thought nothing of it when my sister didn’t answer her phone.
As I modeled the shoe for Mike, the phone rang. Still in hand and assuming it was my sister I picked it up. An unfamiliar voice on the other end asked if I knew P. my brother-in-law? “Yes, I replied.” She said that she was a nurse and gave me the name of the hospital she was calling from and advised me to get there ASAP. I asked if everything was okay. She just said, “I cannot give you any information, except to tell you to come down here as soon as you can.” She hung up. I looked at my husband and explained the conversation to him.
A moment later…
The phone rang again. This time it was my brother-in-law. He said there had been a bad accident, and that my sister didn’t get in the helicopter with him and their daughter. He said that I needed to find her. It was surreal….
The trip back down the hallway was indescribable. I looked over at my Mom and explained what had just happened. In a blink of an eye, we went from laughter and peace to instant emotional chaos. I began to call local hospitals and told Mike that he just had to go find her. Long story short my brother in law had given us the wrong directions, instead of being a few miles away the accident ended up being a few blocks away. The sirens that had briefly interrupted the conversation between my mother and myself nearly an hour earlier, were in fact, the ones that would change our lives.
As Mike and my little brother left to search for my sister, I continued to make phone calls. My Mom went home just in case my sister called her there. As I cycled through all of the local hospitals, I called Mike back to see if he had found anything out. He simply replied, “I have to go talk to your Mom.” I just knew. Up until now, I have never really thought about how deeply respectful that was …to tell her first. That’s just the type of person he is.
Comfort and Kindness…
In the days that followed acts of kindness poured in from all parts of the country. People we hadn’t heard from in years called, sent cards and showed up. Food and drinks filled our kitchen. Days later, when I finally felt the need to eat, one particular act of kindness still touches my heart.
The kitchen was empty and particularly quiet. I’m not sure where everyone was at. Up until that point, visitors had steadily streamed into our home, offering kind words and condolences. In the solitude of that empty kitchen, I began to rummage through our refrigerator. There were all sorts of muffins, and chickens, rolls, and cakes. As much appreciated as they all were, there was just something missing.
I was sad, exhausted and my heart was aching. That’s when I noticed it. A lone pot on the stove.
Finding my Grandmother, I asked where it had come from. In just a word, she replied, “Eleanor.”
The name alone brought comfort. She was a longtime family friend. A dear older lady, quiet by nature, she is the kind of person who just always seems to know the right thing, at the right time.
As I lifted the lid a pleasant aroma lifted my spirits. She had made the absolutely most perfect thing a person could possibly make. Chicken Soup.
Relieved by the silence that filled the house, I found a chair and curled up with a bowl. I will never forget how each bite tasted like my tears. It matched my sadness and yet filled me with comfort. I wondered… how did she know?
Her simple act of kindness was the first memory I have of healing.
It taught me a lesson.
You never know the value of your actions. Your kind words and deeds may seem as though they have little effect. Truth is…you never know. I mean, you really, really, may never know. Since then I have thanked her. It’s really hard for me to express the depth of emotions that, that one moment had for me. I’m not sure she really understands how eternally grateful I am. I can only hope that one day, I will extend an act of kindness without expectation and perhaps that one act will have a warming effect on someone else’s heart.
So this week’s Monday Motivation is simply…Kindness.
Who will your actions affect?
Note to self: I now own a pair of ugly fisherman sandals…life has a funny way of repeating itself.