I often say I have the happiest email inbox in the world. Every once in a while, I’ll also get a handwritten letter in my real mailbox explaining how someone is adding light to the world through kindness.
I’ve received the sweetest stories of kindness. Despite what you might see on the television, there is good in this world, no doubt about it. But there is also sadness.
Many of the stories people share involve sickness, heartache and a variety of tough times with relationships and money. Those might be the letters that resonate with me the most — not because I enjoy reading about people’s suffering, but rather because I am also inspired by the way they teach us to search out the silver lining.
I recently got a letter from Deb Jordat in Enderlin, N.D. I could imagine the heartache that has laced her life, but she also taught me that kindness is worth remembering. It keeps us grateful and it keeps us close to those we love. She asked me to print her letter in hopes that some of the people who showed up in her darkest hours would know she still appreciates their kindness.
“Thank you to the Fargo Forum for the article about Wendy Trottier’s hours of volunteering at the Red River Zoo. Articles like these remind all of us of good people and kind deeds.
"When I read the article, it reminded me of the generosity of Wendy and the kind ladies of Horace, N.D., 41 years ago and also of the love showed to me by so many groups in our hometown of Enderlin.
"While my daughter, Becky, was struggling with leukemia at a hospital in Minneapolis, the ladies from Horace got together and wrapped presents for my daughter to open. From Barbie dolls to puzzles to coloring books, every day my daughter had a present to open."
"When she would ask where the presents came from, my response was, ‘These are from caring ladies who want nothing more than for you to become well again.’ The Enderlin VFW, Lions Club, churches and many caring individuals sent money so I could stay with Becky and also paid for our plane ticket so she could celebrate her fifth birthday at home.
"Unfortunately, that was her last birthday. My daughter lost her life to her disease, but I for one have never forgotten the kindness and caring from each and every one of these people. Thank you once again to everyone involved for your thoughtfulness and for making my child smile. Even 41 years later, your kindness lives on.”
You might think wrapping up a coloring book from the dollar store or dropping off a can of Play-Doh at a children’s hospital isn’t that big of a deal. Is it worth being remembered four decades later?
I don’t know if there is anything I’ve ever done that will be remembered in the year 2059, but I hope so. My hunch tells me yes, even the smallest acts of kindness will ripple on, because when we touch someone with kindness in their time of need, we may not recognize the impact, but they do.
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.