My dad is a deep thinker. He spent most of his life as a therapist, so he’s a pretty good listener, too. He can be engaged in a conversation and then spend several days, if not weeks, thinking about the deeper meaning behind someone’s words or actions. Had he not gone into the profession of family counseling, he would have made a great researcher in the field of sociology. Human interaction fascinates him.
My dad retired a few years ago and decided he’d had enough of Wisconsin winters. He and his wife now spend several months as snowbirds, swimming and playing shuffleboard at a condo in sunny Arizona.
He calls me on a regular basis to give me a weather report, find out if I need to take a last-minute trip out West, and to fill me in on the latest shuffleboard gossip. I wasn’t at all surprised when he sent me this email. My dad had clearly been busy thinking again.
“Sometimes I think your column could be called ‘Kindness is Courageous.’ For men, it takes courage to do nice things for people. Probably for women, too, but especially for men. We wonder how our actions will be interpreted. Will people think I am showing off? Or if I do something nice for a woman, will she think I am trying to make a pass at her?
“In the last shuffleboard league game, I played a man who has suffered two strokes and now has limited use of his left arm. We were tied in the last frame when his phone rang. He was unable to get it out of his pocket before it quit ringing.
“He told me it was his daughter calling to see if it was time for her to come and get him. I called her back for him and therefore missed my last shot. He won the game. I took his phone and laughingly told her he won and she could come and pick him up. Andy was as happy as a pup with a new toy.
“My teammates, who were not on the same end of the court, didn’t see what had happened and made several comments about me not focusing on the game. Kindness almost always carries a risk.”
I agree, Dad, kindness almost always carries a risk. But so do so many of the amazing things we do in life – like spending every penny you have to go to college, like being the only single guy to sign up for country line-dance lessons, like teaching your teenage daughter how to drive, like asking a lovely woman on a first date. You’ve done risky things all your life, Dad. Why stop now?
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.