I am the youngest of 50 cousins on my dad’s side of the family. I have several hundred second-cousins, but please don’t ask me to name more than 10 of them.
The last family reunion was held at a park in Wisconsin and was a bit of a community event. It’s always hard to tell who is really part of the family and who just showed up because they smelled the grill. Throw on a name tag. We’ll feed you.
I’m a little embarrassed to say that I recently realized my dad has a brother I never even knew existed.
My dad, being the second-youngest of 11 children, has seen too many of his siblings pass away. He is in his 70s, and I think he really longs for both connection and reconciliation at this point in his life.
I’ve written before about the role kindness plays in serendipitous events. Well, three times over the course of just a few weeks in three very unusual places, my dad happened to be talking to people who took notice of his last name.
One was at a bait-and-tackle shop. One was at an eye doctor, and one was while he was just out taking a walk.
All three times, the people said, “Locy?” (It’s the opposite of high tide, pronounce it like low-sea) “Locy? Do you know Wayne Locy?”
“That’s my brother!” my dad replied. Through those three conversations, my dad learned about his brother’s health, children and general well-being.
During the third conversation, my dad found out his brother has a daughter who is an electrician. It just so happened my dad needed an electrician, so he called her up.
The day Wayne’s daughter was supposed to show up at my dad’s house to do some electrical work, she brought along a surprise.
My dad was shocked but so incredibly grateful to get a chance to sit and visit again with his long-lost brother. He said it was an amazing reunion.
I asked my dad whatever happened between him and Wayne, why they had a falling out in the first place. His answer was heart-breaking. He said, “I don’t know. They stopped showing up to things we invited them to, so we stopped inviting them.”
That was it.
No major argument or disturbance. Just two people on two different sides of the fence who both probably got a little offended once by something someone did and didn’t even mean to do and then they just slowly stopped talking. Forever.
Uff da. It knocks the wind right out of me.
Let me ask you this: How easily are you offended? How difficult would it be to pick up the olive branch and extend it, even if it meant you had to apologize for something you didn’t even do? What sort of love and light would it let into your life if you took the risk?
Sometimes being kind means turning the other cheek, picking up the phone, and simply calling the right electrician.
You can wait for a string of serendipitous events, or you can create them on your own with kindness.
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 is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday. You can also get a Daily Dose of Inspiration from Nicole at www.nicolejphillips.com.