I got invited to a new friend’s house for dinner the other day. She has boys the same age as my 5-year-old son, Ben. Twin boys. Yikes.
This fall, Ben and the twins will part ways as they head to different schools for kindergarten, so we got our two families together as a sort of end-of-the-year celebration.
During this cookout, I got to peek into the life of a woman who is a full-time nursing student, a mother of three children (she also has a first-grade daughter) and the wife of a lieutenant colonel in the Army.
We were standing in the kitchen visiting when she reached into the freezer. All of sudden, frozen, heavy things started cascading loudly onto the floor. We were all forearms and elbows and giggles trying to force the freezer goods back into their rightful places.
“What was that?” I exclaimed, in a not-so-tactful manner.
She told me her husband would be leaving soon for a month and she would be handling things on her own, so they were making meals now and stockpiling them in the freezer for later.
We decided the kitchen wasn’t safe, so she gave me a tour of the rest of the house. In the hallway hangs a really cool piece of artwork that says, “Home is where the Army sends us.”
It turns out my new friend moves about every two years. She’s lived in Kentucky, Virginia, Hawaii and now Ohio. From a practical mom point of view, that sounds like an impossible feat. Packing up three kids and an entire household of clothes, toys, furniture, pots, pans, plates and knickknacks and moving them into a new home every two years? And then you have to unpack everything? No, thank you.
Yet, to this woman, it’s all part of the fun adventure that is known as Army life.
Hats off to the men and women who enlist in our Armed Forces and to the support staff they call family.
Sacrifices are being made for us every day that we don’t even know about. That’s why it’s so special when we find out there are people out there doing what they can to say thank you on behalf of all of us, like the staff at a repair shop in Minnesota who were so kind to a World War II veteran who walked through the door, as Cleo Ritter shared with me in this letter:
“Random Acts of Kindness are such a fun thing to do. This time the act was directed toward my husband,” Cleo wrote.
“My husband had a chip in the windshield of his new truck and took it to Tim Parker Family Glass in Park Rapids, Minn., to be repaired. While he was waiting for the work to be completed, he was visiting with the office personnel. He is a veteran of World War II and he must have been telling them about that. He was wearing a cap that he had received when he was on the Honor Flight from Duluth to Washington, D.C., which was several years ago.
“After the windshield repair was finished, the receptionist said she would get him a receipt and took the bill in the back room. When she came back out the statement was marked ‘no charge.’ My husband asked what was going on and why there wasn’t a charge. She said they like to honor WWII veterans, so this time the service was on the house. My husband was so impressed and felt so honored. He said, ‘I have been honored twice for being a veteran — the Honor Flight and now this gift.’ ”
There are so many things we can’t do for others, but there are also so many things we can do. Like letting a man relive his Honor Flight by sharing his stories. Or perhaps paying for his windshield.
To all of our veterans on this Memorial Day weekend, thank you for your kindness to our country and to those who love it.
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.