I lost my dear friend, Tom, just before Christmas.

He was in his late 80s and his quality of life was diminishing, but even so, it’s hard to say goodbye.

One of the great gifts of these past six months was the amount of times I was able to visit Tom and his wife, Ann. My family’s move from Ohio to South Dakota meant I was only three hours away. Being far away from a loved one is hard, especially when it’s time to say that final goodbye.

Nancy Landegent, of Orange City, Iowa, sent in this precious story of an act of kindness that brought great joy amid one family’s time of grief.

“In December of 2018, a great gift of kindness was given to my sister-in-law, Susan. She had been in her childhood hometown in Iowa since the beginning of November to be with her ailing father in a nearby nursing home and had to go through the family home to get it ready for sale. Every day she went through boxes and rooms full of her family’s things and memories.

“Susan stayed ‘home’ through Thanksgiving and was hoping to be back with her family in Texas by mid-December. However, her dad’s health began deteriorating more and more, and by the middle of December, Susan knew he wouldn’t be living much longer. She wanted her family to come to see her father once more before he died, so plans were set in motion.

“Unbeknownst to her, back in Texas, her daughter Julie was working one day and visiting with a regular patron at her hotel. She was telling him the story of her mom and grandfather up in Iowa. She told him of the family’s plan to travel by car to see their loved one before he died.

“The gentleman left a while later. He was so touched by Julie’s story. He called his wife and talked over a plan he had brewing. He came back to Julie a little while later to tell her that he had purchased plane tickets for all five of her family members to fly to Iowa, arranged for a rental car for them at the airport, and would also arrange for hotel rooms if needed.

“Julie couldn’t believe what she was hearing or receiving. She immediately called her dad to tell him about this generous gift and then called her mom to inform her that they would be there soon. The family did not get to Iowa before their father and grandfather passed away, but they were all together after such a long time as they laid their loved one to rest and celebrated Christmas.

“Because of the generous and kind gift of a virtual stranger, this family was together as they mourned their loss and celebrated the home-going of their beloved father and grandpa. They celebrated together the greatest Gift of our Savior at Christmas, and also the great gift of kindness given to their family.”

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at info@nicolejphillips.com. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.