Before I begin my story, I actually need to back up to earlier this week and give a quick update…
A few days ago, I posted 2 ads on Craig’s List with the hopes of helping a couple of fellow moms. It worked. I had 2 women contact me immediately about the DVDs that I was giving away. Luckily for me, one was interested in the Baby Einstein movies, the other woman wanted the DVDs for older toddlers. Perfect…I was able to make 2 women happy. But then I learned something about one of the women…I found out that my act of kindness was actually helping her complete an act of kindness that she was doing. She explained that she was involved in a group that was adopting a family for Christmas. This family is living in Utah with 6 children and have very little. She was organizing a care package to send to them and was excited to have these DVDs to include. I offered to leave the movies in my mailbox for her to pick up, but she said she’d like to meet me in person–she was touched by my generosity.
So this morning she came to my office to pick up the collection of DVDs and handed me a something. “I know you said that you wouldn’t take any money for these, but I really wanted to give you SOMETHING, even if it’s little.” She handed me a bag of Hershey kisses. “From my family to yours, merry Christmas.” Then she gave me a hug. Here we were…two women who had never met before coming together all because of kindness. She told me that in her care package, she’s going to sign my name on the card–she said these DVDs are my gift, not hers. I thought it was a nice gesture…and I smiled thinking that somewhere in Utah there’s a family that I will never meet, who will never know me…but that I was able to help, even just a little.
Now, on to my act of kindness for today…and it’s a good one!
Down the road from my house there’s an assisted living center. I’ve probably driven past it a million times over the years…not really thinking about the people who lived there. But not today. Today I had the pleasure of making a new friend. Today I met Ruth.
During my 30 Day Christmas Challenge, there were a few acts of kindness that I knew I wanted to complete…and this was one of them.
Last week I called the center and talked with one of their nurses, Tracy. I asked her if there was someone living in the center who was lonely, who didn’t have many visitors…someone I could help. Turns out there was.
She didn’t tell me much about Ruth over the phone–just that she is 81 years old, loved gospel music and could use a friend. And this is what I love about kindness…if you ask to help, if you look for opportunities to give, you’ll find them. And thanks to Tracy, I found Ruth.
I came to the center with my hands full. I wanted to bring Ruth some Christmas presents so I carried in a giant poinsettia, a candle and an Aretha Franklin Christmas CD. Basically I came with my arms full of Christmas cheer.
Tracy led me down the hall to Ruth’s room. Sitting in the corner with a blanket over her legs was a woman. Her hair was a soft white, her body looked frail…but her face was glowing with a smile that lit up the entire room. I knew instantly that I liked her.
Words of wisdom…
I sat with her for an hour. For 81 years old, she was feisty and full of stories. I could probably write for hours relaying our conversation and the things she told me, but here are just a few of my favorites…
-She was born in Germany and it was an interesting story how she ended up here in Dayton. When she just 7 months old her father met a man who owned a dry-cleaners back in the U.S. The man respected her father, saw he had a strong work ethic and asked if he would be willing to move to America and take a job at his dry-cleaning company. He did…and he worked there until he retired.
-Ruth and her husband have been married for 61 years. (Her husband is now quite sick and unable to visit her often.) I loved listening to her talk about him…she shared with me how they met, how they fell in love and what it was like raising their son, Carl. I asked her to tell me the secret to a happy marriage and her answer cracked me up: knowing when to keep your mouth shut. Yep…good advice, Ruth.
I didn’t tell her about my 30 Day Christmas Challenge, so I was surprised when she started telling me a story about the man who changed their lives…out of all things, kindness and generosity.
Her husband apparently always had “the calling” and knew he wanted to be a priest. The only problem is that they didn’t have any money and apparently seminary school is quite expensive. So from time to time he would help the priest at their church and fill in with certain activities if the priest was unavailable. One day the priest was away and the unthinkable happened…there was a death…a little boy. One of the members of the church had a little boy who was outside playing. He jumped in a swimming pool and somehow hit his head. The family was devastated. With the priest away, Ruth’s husband stepped in. He rushed to the family and was there to offer compassion, sympathy and condolences.
The father of the boy was so touched that a month later he came over to their house. He sat down on their sofa and explained that he was going to pay the full tuition to send him to seminary school. Then I loved what Ruth said next….“He didn’t have to do that, but he did. He changed our lives…he was our miracle. Out of a horrible tragedy, he saw something good in us. And because of him, my husband and I were able to help so many other people. Love is a chain…it only takes one person.”
The father in this story obviously did something incredible, but I think there is a profound truth to Ruth’s words that applies to even the smallest acts of kindness as well.
I loved my time with Ruth. As I listened to her, I couldn’t help but imagine her decades ago as a young mother and wife…reading stories to her son, cooking dinner for her family. I’m guessing she was a lot like me. Now here she was…alone and needing a friend. It was such an honor to get to be that person for her.
Love is a chain. I am so grateful that I got to be a link in Ruth’s.