Nicole J. Phillips
I imagine, one day, when they're very old and can't get around quite as well as they do now, Gene Hanson and Darlene Jackson Hanson will sit next to each other and say, "Do you remember when...?" Only there is no way they will remember it all. Not because their minds will be failing, but because of the abundant life they've lived. Some people just live kindness. It's what they do. This couple falls into that category.
Have you ever been driving down the street, carefully obeying the rules of the road, when all of a sudden someone cuts you off? You're forced to hit the brakes because some madman is either driving like a bat out of Hades or didn't check his mirrors well enough to notice you were there. How about those times you walk into the store right behind someone who lets the door flop in your face? It would have taken no effort for them to hold the handle a moment longer, but instead you're left thinking, "How rude!"
I'm afraid I've forgotten what it's like to have small children. How is that even possible? My kids are 12, 11 and 6. It's not like they are adults. They are definitely still in need of guidance and discipline, but life is a whole lot different (dare I say easier?) than when they were toddlers. I see moms walking through the grocery store looking hassled and harried as a wiggly 2-year-old tries to squirm out of the cart. I have totally been there.
What do you want to be when you grow up? I sure hope you're not one of those people who thinks they are already too old to decide. Isn't that what the new year is for? New beginnings? I see the commercials on TV telling me I should be skinny or try a new exercise machine or buy a book to become a financially fit super parent. All of that would be nice, but honestly, when my kids grow up, all I want them to be is kind. That's all I want to be too. Kind.
My friend was telling me a story about her son who is a freshman in college. He noticed a peer consistently walking to class without a coat. So he gave him his own. No fanfare. No conversation or touching exchange of words as the coat was quietly laid on his desk. Just an offering that says, " I see you and I care." I have to believe the young man receiving the coat will remember that act of kindness for the rest of his life. Maybe it will be just the nod of confidence he needs to keep on going to create a life different than he had known.
I'm rocking back and forth, tossing actually, like a woman on a boat bracing herself before the next wave sends the entire contents shifting across the deck. There is a storm happening in my head. I know I'm blowing it out of proportion. It's really not that big of a deal. It's just that I've written a book and I'm wondering if I should tell you about it. I can't seem to make up my mind. As much as I want to use this space to share this part of my life, I don't. I'm worried about sounding self-serving or commercialized or egotistical.
You know what I love about this time of year? The Hallmark Channel. I can sit for hours watching cheesy holiday movies. They usually involve some small town charm and an act of kindness that probably wouldn't ever happen in real life. Or maybe it would. This story from Teresa Braaten of Wyndmere, ND reminds me that every so often, Christmas miracles really do happen.
More often than not, when we do random acts of kindness, we never hear about it again. We don't ever truly know the impact it made on the other person. We just have to trust that kindness worked whatever magic in that person's life that was needed at that exact moment. But every once in a while, an act of kindness will lead to a new friendship, and we get to enter the experience from another perspective. Lori Walker, of Worthington, MN sent me two letters. One is from her daughter's point of view and the other is from one of her daughter's new friends.
When I was a freshman in college, I had a stalker. Several of my friends were at a fast food restaurant near the University of Wisconsin campus when they saw a man sitting at a table with huge photos of me spread out in front of him. They were confused, but knew something was very wrong with that scenario.
For most of my adulthood, I have mistakenly believed that kindness flows from the excess in my life. I have extra money, I can throw a little in the jar. I have extra time, I can offer to take a neighbor to the store.