I’m a sucker for a Hallmark movie. Love is in the air when the owner of a small-town bakery falls for the big-city developer who intends to shut her down, but then has a change of heart and sweeps in to save the building from demolition. Somebody hand me a bucket of popcorn and a hot cocoa.
In real life, love is a bit more complicated, but as Laurel Baxter shares, it’s still magical and memorable when it’s filled with kindness.
“I enjoy reading your column about kindness and was motivated to submit this story about two-part kindness. I am still amazed when I think of Morrie and also of the strangers who helped him.
"My mother and Morrie exchanged vows in a private ceremony when they were 75 years old. He was so kind, loving and treated her like a queen. They were like two school kids with joy in their hearts.
"Within a few years, my mother started to show signs of dementia. As the disease progressed, he still treated her like a queen. He took care of her, drove her where she needed to go and packed up every fall and drove them both to Arizona, where they had a home in a trailer park by friends and relatives. Even when Morrie had surgeries, he would still pack up and drive them both to Arizona each fall.
"At age 89, Morrie drove them back to Minnesota in the spring, even though he had cancer that was starting to spread. On the trip home, they got stuck in a blizzard on Interstate 35 in the Plains. All the hotel rooms in the area were full, so Morrie stopped at a cafe for safety and a bite to eat.
"The owners of the cafe started talking to Morrie and my mom and offered them a spare bed they had in the basement of their home. Morrie accepted. The next day, when it was safe to continue driving, the couple would not accept any money for their hospitality and sent them on their way. To this day, I think of how hard it would be to drive so far at age 89, how hard it would be to make the trip with a companion with dementia and the incredible kindness of the couple who took them in.
"By July, Morrie and Mom moved into an assisted living facility as Morrie’s cancer had spread to his brain. He died on Veterans Day after his 90th birthday. Since Morrie was a World War II veteran, it seemed so fitting that God would call his angel home on this day.”
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips, a former Fargo television anchor, is a speaker, author and host of The Kindness Podcast. She lives in Athens, Ohio, with her three children and her husband, Ohio University Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.