What if kindness were cumulative and contagious? What if everything you did your entire life to or for another person all added up to how people treat you at the end of your life?

That may not be so far from the truth. Lisa (Brustad) Rygg recently went through an experience with her mother, where a lifetime of kindness was paid back just when her family needed it the most.

“Dear Nicole,

My mother recently passed away from cancer. She was 78 years old and, in my opinion, too young to leave this earth. But, her life was one of faith, love and kindness.

“She was always concerned about children, pets, those less fortunate, the elderly that were alone, or those that were physically or mentally handicapped. She never cared if she had a lot of ‘things,’ because what she had was always enough. But the acts of kindness that I want to share with you now, are what God gave back to my mom in her final weeks.

“My mom lived only about six weeks from the time we were told she had Stage IV cancer. From that moment on, friends and family were there to hold our hands, give us hugs and offer assistance in anything my mom needed.

“She lived in Mayville, N.D. – a wonderful, caring community. Her neighbors were amazing! Not only have they helped both my parents on numerous occasions, but they have treated my parents like family, and in her final weeks they were there for her, my Dad and our entire family.

“When my mom ended up in Sanford Hospital in Mayville, there too, we were greeted with the warmth and kindness of an amazing staff!

“When we found out that my mom would not be leaving the hospital, they set her up in a palliative care room, made sure my Dad was comfortable at all times, let my entire family use the activity room that was adjacent to my mom’s room, and made sure we had pillows and blankets for those of us that stayed overnight to be near my mom.

“But, above all of that – they took care of our mother like she was their mother! What a wonderful blessing they were to my mom and to all of us!

“For the nine days that my mom was in palliative care, friends and family provided my large family with meals, snacks and drinks. They prayed with us and for us, they cried with us, some just sat and listened, others made us laugh with stories they shared and others knew we just needed a hug.

“So you see, Nicole, my Mom was one of the kindest ladies I have ever known, and when her final days came, she was shown what a lifetime of kindness looks like in a gift, wrapped by a community that had been a recipient of her acts of kindness throughout her life.”

Lisa is training for her second half-marathon. She is raising money for the American Cancer Society and dedicating the run to her mom, who taught her the power of kindness through example.

Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at nphillips15@hotmail.com or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND, 58107.


Nicole Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo and currently the Executive Director of Diva Connection Foundation. She is the mother of three kids and the wife of Bison Men’s Head Basketball Coach Saul Phillips. Her columns run every Saturday.