At my age, there have been so too many times to count. I know I have been blessed over and over again with acts of kindness both big and small, from friends and perfect strangers: the neighbor who filled my kitchen with food when my husband died, the man who buried my pet with as much care as he would his own when she was hit by a car with no collar to identify her, the hotel courtesy van driver who picked me up in New Zealand walking from the train station to my hostel and not only gave me a ride, but took the time to drive past a memorial in the center of Christchurch built around a piece of the NY World Trade Center, and the lady I’d just met who invited me to share dinner with she and her husband when I was traveling alone in Vietnam. All these and more flickered through my mind as I considered this question. My neighbor bringing over bags of food she'd just bought for her own family was just the first of so many acts of kindness both large and small during that difficult time that let me know I didn't have to cope with my loss alone. The man who buried my pet took away some of the sadness I felt at losing her. The van driver and the couple I met on my travels through New Zealand and Vietnam were just two of the many people who made that solo trip memorable and filled with wonderful experiences I'd never expected. That van driver and even the couple I had dinner with probably don't recall me all these years later, but I will always remember them.
One major random act of kindness that stands out in my memory was the night my youngest daughter was born. In spite of having four kids, I was in labor for almost 24 hours and within an hour of Lori’s birth, my uterus gave up doing its job and I began hemorrhaging. It being after midnight, my doctor and my husband had already gone home and both were called back. A D&C was done in hopes that would fix the problem and once again I was back in my room and my husband had gone home when the bleeding began again. Now I was really in trouble and my husband returned a second time, was handed a clipboard full of permission forms to sign even though he had no idea what was going to happen. A nurse discovered him alone and afraid in the waiting room after I was wheeled to the OR so she sat down with him and explained what the doctor was going to do and gave him encouragement and hope. I was in the OR for almost four hours and this woman came back to check on Cal many times during that long vigil, sitting silent and sometimes praying with him. Afterward Cal told me how much her being there had meant to him and asked me to thank her if I saw her. He described her to me so I had my eye out for her as I began to recover and take walks in the hallway and beyond, but for three days I didn’t see her. Then, on the fourth day, she stepped into my room to say hi and see how I was doing. Turns out, she didn’t work on that floor at all. She’d come over only to help out during a busy spell, and when things quieted down, she’d been on her way back to her own floor when she came upon Cal and stopped to keep him company. She stayed long after her shift was over until they knew I was out of danger. Then she’d had the long weekend off, but on her first day back, she’d come to work early so she had time to peek in and check on me. A woman I would never see again went out of her way to bring comfort to a husband who was desperately afraid he was going to lose his wife, and then followed that up by coming all the way over from another floor to see how I was doing four days later. Another time I was facing a mountain and there were helpers all along the way. I was no more special than any other patient in that hospital, and yet, a young man poked his head around my door to say hi – and it turned out he was the orderly who’d taken me down to surgery in the wee hours before dawn. And another unexpected visitor was a part time nursery nurse who’d been in charge of Lori in those first six hours of her life who stopped in to tell me what a beautiful baby I had.
But what about the random acts of kindness I've done over all those same years? I think I may never know just how much they meant to those I did them to. When I was in training for the Peace Corps we were told not to be discouraged as more often than not, we would never know if we had made a difference. I think Paying it Forward, with random acts of kindness is like that. If I take the time to smile at a stranger and say hello, it might mean little and be quickly forgotten, but perhaps that person had just lost someone dear and my smile was the only one they saw all day. If I notice a baby toy fall from a stroller and hurry to catch up and return it, the toy might have been just any old toy, but what if it was the most important possession that small person owned and they would have been lost without it? I can think of dozens of times I’ve taken a moment to do something for someone that meant only a moment of my time, but I will never know how that might have made a difference in their day. And perhaps that’s the way it should be. A random act of kindness does not need a reward or even acknowledgement. It’s a gift you give to someone else.
Hop on over to check out these other authors and their experiences with random acts of kindness.
Diane Bator http://dbator.blogspot.ca/
Fiona McGier http://www.fionamcgier.com/
Bob Rich http://wp.me/p3Xihq-z4
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/blog/
Connie Vines http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Rachael Kosinski http://rachaelkosinski.weebly.com/
Hollie Glover http://www.hollieglover.co.uk
Rhobin Courtright http://www.rhobinleecourtright.com/